Houston's top police officer sounds off on a proposition that would give a firefighters a big pay raise-- saying it would have a dramatic impact on personnel.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke at his 5th town hall meeting last night in northwest Houston. He’s been speaking out about why the city can’t afford Proposition B and the consequences if it is passed. If approved, Proposition B would mean a 25 percent salary increase for Houston firefighters.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke with FOX 26 Natasha Geigel about the proposition.
“I’m going to stand up for not just my cops but for this community. We cannot afford to lay off 1000 men and women in the fire department and we certainly cannot afford to lay off police officers. When I’m asked to put together a potential budget cut of 5.1-6% that would be upwards of 700 bodies in the Police Department you better believe I’m gonna make sure this community makes a well-informed decision,” said Acevedo.
Chief Acevedo earlier had responded in a series of tweets to a Houston area firefighter captain who claimed there was no way the city would lay off hundreds of firefighters if Proposition B is passed.
“You do understand that 90 percent of our budgets fund people, not things, and when there is an instant increase in the cost of those people by 25 to 32+%, you are forced to cut the number of people, I’m not sure there is a way to convince you.”
Acevedo was referring to the salary increase requested by the Houston Firefighters union after Mayor Turner said they turned down a 9.5% increase by the city. If Proposition B is passed officials say it will cost the city about $98 million dollars to bring firefighters salary up to par with what Houston police officers make.
The Houston Firefighters Union tweeted out that Chief Acevedo “worries voters “lack the sophistication” to see things his way. He seems to hope you will ignore the fact that his employees got a 37% in raises since 2011-with no phony budget crisis and layoff threats. Firefighters got 3% during that time.”
Acevedo responded, “Our budget issues are real. There’s no way that these layoffs are going to happen and quite frankly if this passes which I’m not telling people how to vote, it’s up to them but if it passes there will be layoffs."
The firefighters union refused to comment on the chief’s tweets, but announced that firefighters from New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas are supporting them.
There will be five more public meetings before November 6th.
The Houston firefighters union will continue their push for proposition B with a block walk this Saturday.