HOUSTON - The city of Houston is now in a hiring freeze and Mayor Sylvester Turner says the reason for the action is the proposed Houston firefighter pay parity measure on the November ballot.
In a letter dated Sept. 21 and sent to department heads and City Council members, the mayor writes, "Effective immediately, Monday, September 24, 2018, the City of Houston (all departments) will suspend hiring."
Turner's letter goes on to say that the hiring freeze affects applicants and promotional candidates who had not yet received an official from the city's human resources department as of Monday.
Mary Benton, the mayor's press secretary, said he was not available for comment Tuesday, but in a statement to Channel 2 News she wrote:
"If Proposition B passes, firefighter pay would be increased a minimum of 25% across the board at an annual cost of $98 million.
"The impact would financially cripple the city and force layoffs and cutbacks to services. The mayor believes it is not prudent at this time to hire additional city of Houston employees, who could lose their jobs as a result of the election."
Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, responded to the hiring freeze in a statement that says:
"If Sylvester Turner is truly willing to destabilize public safety in Houston and hurt all city employees so he can further punish firefighters, that raises some troubling questions.
"In the letter, the mayor did not say how long the hiring freeze would last but that it would be reassessed at a date later this year."
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