68ºF

'There will be layoffs': Houston firefighters' election victory will likely mean fewer firefighters

Mayor Sylvester Turner makes dire prediction during Wednesday council meeting

HOUSTON – The passage Tuesday of Houston’s Proposition B — “a measure aimed at pairing the pay of city firefighters with that of their police counterparts,” KPRC reports — will likely result in layoffs within the Houston Fire Department, Mayor Sylvester Turner warned Wednesday.

Turner began Wednesday’s city council meeting acknowledging that voters approved of the proposition by a 19-point margin and that the city must now figure out how to pay for the annual $100 million being added to the budget, KPRC reports.

“That is a huge mountain to climb,” Turner said. “I will be very, very honest and very candid with you, I don’t know how we’re going to pay for it.”

But he said the fire department will be the first place he will look for the savings. He said he has already instructed Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena to move the department to a three-shift rotation instead of four and look at other ways to reduce costs. He also said there will not be any new personnel hired at the department any time soon.

“We did not ask for this, but we are obligated to balance our books,” Turner said, looking around the room at the council members. “It will be a disruption of services. It will be. There will be layoffs.”

Read more from KSAT’s sister station in Houston, KPRC 2, on how else Houston officials are looking to allay the $100 million price tag.