HOUSTON – Up to 400 Houston firefighters could be laid off in order to implement the pay raises for Proposition B, according to the mayor’s office and several City Council members.
In November, voters approved Proposition B, which allows for firefighters to be paid the same as Houston police officers.
On Jan. 16, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he would be implementing the new law, but it would take some time.
"I'm willing to entertain any proposal that would reduce the costs of Prop B, minimize layoffs and minimize the reduction of city services. And I'm open to any and all proposals that would achieve that," Turner said. “We will move forward with Proposition B. We will define what parity is, but the city has never had a $100 million on an annualized basis set aside just to pay Proposition B."
According to the mayor's press secretary Mary Benton, Turner presented his idea for the implementation of Prop B to the City Council Thursday.
Firefighters are not happy with the progress.
"The fact that these elected officials are willing to standby and put citizens' lives at risk shows the third-rate politicians we have here in Houston," Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton said.
City Councilman Jack Christie told KPRC2 the plan includes decreasing firefighter shifts from four to three, which could result in about 220 firefighter layoffs.
It’s unclear from where the remainder of the cuts will come to reach the proposed total of up to 400.
"The gap for next year's budget, when you factor in Prop B, is $197 million that we must balance between now and the end of June," Turner said.
Benton said no firefighters will be laid off Friday, and the council still has to approve Turner’s plan and vote on what it is willing to pass in order to balance the budget and pay firefighters.