Turner releases financial data to Houston firefighter union

Union president calls data insufficient

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor, Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter
KPRC2

HOUSTON - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released financial data Wednesday to the union representing the city’s firefighters, saying the data had been requested by union leaders as discussions about how to implement Proposition B continue.

In a letter to Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton, Turner said the data includes not only a comparison of pay between firefighters and their police officer counterparts but also the cost of a 3.5-year phase-in of the voter-approved measure that requires firefighters and police officers to be paid the same.

The data shows that city accountants calculate the total cost of rolling out Prop B would be about $89 million, with a bulk of the payouts coming during the fiscal years of 2020 and 2021. The rollout would be complete by 2022.

According to the data, the biweekly base pay rate for an entry-level firefighter is currently $1,545.01, while the equivalent position at the Police Department will be paid $1,615.38 by July. The much higher-level position of a sixth-year executive assistant chief is paid a biweekly rate of $5,147.07 while the equivalent Police Department position is paid a rate of $7,642 by July.

DOCUMENT: View the letter and data released by Turner

According to the data, incentive pay for firefighters would increase by 61% by the time Prop B is implemented. Fire union leaders argue that not all incentive pay is not being included in the implementation of parity.

DOCUMENTS: Controller questions about Prop B | Response to controller's questions

In his letter, Turner said a rollout of 3.5 years would still result in the layoff of 47 firefighters. 

“Anything less than five years would require some layoffs without an identified funding source,” Turner said in his letter.

Lancton said the data does not satisfy the union’s request for information.

“At this point, we are absolutely dumbfounded,” Lancton said. “This regurgitated data does nothing to answer our request.”

The total cumulative cost of Prop B would be $307.2 million, according to the city’s data.

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