HOUSTON - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner unveiled his $5.1 billion proposed budget Tuesday, calling it “lean” while being “fiscally responsible.”
Turner said his proposal for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1, closes a $179 million gap that was driven by contracted raises, health benefits costs and Proposition B.
The mayor said the voter-mandated proposition, which requires the city’s firefighters to be paid the same as their Police Department counterparts, added $79 million to Houston’s bottom line. He said layoffs, demotions and the shedding of vacant positions were necessary to cover the cost of the increased pay that starts showing up on firefighters’ paychecks Friday.
“Let me put it in stark terms,” Turner said. “In the absence of Proposition B, the way we have been budgeting, this budget would have balanced without any layoffs at all.”
Nearly 700 firefighters received either pink slips or demotion notices last month.
Turner said that despite the Prop B bill, his proposed budget emphasizes public safety, drainage and streets without discarding the financially responsible values of the city.
The proposed budget moves to the City Council for review.
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