City leaders prepare for layoffs to offset deficit caused by Prop B

“These are cuts that are going to cut deep, and it’s going to hurt,” said Jack Christie, Council Member At-Large 5.

It’s no secret making Proposition B a reality carries a $200 million price tag.

“When you have a deficit of millions of dollars, it’s going to affect the citizens and the city,” said District D Council Member Ellen Cohen.

In his meetings with city council members, Mayor Sylvester Turner points out three options.

One, a court decision which could take months maybe years.

Two, an agreement between the city and firefighters to give the voter approved raises over an extended period of time.

“Essentially, we’re expanding the runaway as far as how much the city has to meet the full obligation. One hundred million dollars in one year is a lot different than if we spread that out over several years,” said Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena.

The third option to make Prop B happen, layoffs.

Would firefighters be the first to be laid off?

“That’s the scenario,” Christie said. “But, I think you’re going to see layoffs in other departments, so it’s not just firefighters, but to balance the budget, we’ve got to find the money somewhere.”

“I think every department in the city is going to experience a problem with lay-offs,” said Mike Knox, Council Member At-Large 1.

“We’re looking at almost $200 million in deficit in one year alone,” said Council Member District F Steve Le. “That’s a lot of money, and that’s a lot of layoffs."

In a statement, Mayor Turner said, "these are employment decisions based on the financial constraints of the city. My efforts to save the city from financial ruin posed by Prop B are solely responsive to the needs and desires of the residents of Houston.”