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Fla. Cities 'Mostly Unscathed' This Session, Still Hope To Revisit Local Pension Reform

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Florida League of Cities Spokesman Ryan Matthews says overall, it was a successful Legislative Session for local governments.

“I think it was a successful legislative Session for local governments in general. We managed to defeat a number of preemptions and unfunded mandates and really came out relatively unscathed. I think the election year really loomed large over the session as a whole. Only 264 bills passed this year, and that’s really the lowest since 2011,” said Matthews.

One major priority for the cities that passed is a bill that allows local governments to resume control over the regulation of vacation rentals—something that Matthews says was preempted by the Legislature in 2011. He adds city officials were also happy with tax incentives and economic development issues.

“The Governor had a priority of cutting $500 million from the state budget and mainly did so through licensing vehicle fees. So, the pot of local government money really fared well, and that was something we worked very diligently on throughout the session,” added Matthews.

Still, Matthews says it wasn’t all good news.

“Our major issue that unfortunately that did not pass was reform of local police and firefighter pension plans. We have a number of cities throughout the state, whose budget are dominated by incentives and extra benefits for local police and firefighters. So, that’s something that’s certainly needs reform in the near future,” Matthews continued.

The bipartisan local pension reform effort died during the 2014 Session, after it was tied to a controversial state pension reform effort in the House that never got taken up in the Senate. Matthews says the cities hope to revisit the issue next year.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.