Opinion: 4 Reasons to Vote Yes on Pension Referendum

August 25, 2016 59 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Jacksonville’s ongoing pension crisis has been the most pressing issue in local politics for the last several years. The problem is dire enough that it continues generating debate and barroom arguments even in the time of the Olympics, the presidential election, and cautious but rising faith in the Jaguars’ starting lineup.

Everyone knows that it’s a mad elephant trampling the city, but no one seems to agree on how best to cage it.

On August 30, we’ll be voting on perhaps the highest profile elephant-caging solution yet, Mayor Lenny Curry’s sales tax proposal. It’s been debated by many people in many forums for months. For my part, I’ll be voting yes.

I’m not voting because the plan is perfect. We’ve waited years for that, and the result has been little action and ballooning costs. We’ve waited so long that there’s no time left for waiting. I’m voting yes because it’s time to pull the trigger, and it’s the best of the options on the table now.

Here are four reasons why:

The fix needs new revenue - and that means a tax

To put it bluntly, getting a handle on this fiasco will require a new source of income. Our pension costs are strangling the budget, and they continue to rise. There’s no getting out of this situation without more money going in.

That means a tax. The budget is already so Spartan that it’s unlikely we could make enough additional cuts to bridge the gap (and that would have disastrous effects on our quality of life). And the city has spent years looking for funding sources that don’t require taxes, but none have panned out. It’s time we face facts: paying our obligation requires tax revenue.

Either sales taxes or property taxes could provide the revenue we need, and both have strengths and weaknesses. Property taxes could start right away, whereas the Mayor’s sales tax solution requires waiting until the Better Jacksonville Plan tax expires in 2030. However, it has advantages of its own.

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