Failure of city garbage fee sparks new calls for compromise with Houston firefighters

The fact that Houston City Council member Dwight Boykins' well-intentioned garbage fee was dead-on-arrival at city hall was hardly breaking news.

He toughed out the 16-1 vote anyway, along with the mockery that came with it.

"In this case a turd is a turd, even if it's on the sidewalk for all to see," said Council Member Greg Travis.

"I was the only one to present a sustainable idea to keep people from losing their jobs, so it’s easy to criticize and hard to bring solutions to the table," said Boykins, an outspoken advocate for first responders.

While doomed, Boykins' ill-fated fee to head-off firefighter layoffs clearly triggered action - calls from his fellow council members for Mayor Sylvester Turner to sit down with the union and find a way to split the difference between the rival proposals.

"To the firefighters, you know there's a negotiating point the Mayor has offered, a five-year pay-out plan. You wanted three. What happened to four, four and a half?" asked Council Member Mike Laster.

"I do believe there is a sweet spot between the three years and the five years," said Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum.

Poised to issue 500 plus pink slips, the Mayor said he's willing to consider a compromise, but cautioned that without a funding source, less than a five-year phase in of firefighter pay parity could still require some lay-offs, albeit, significantly fewer.

"I am always willing to sit down and reach a resolution that's in the best interest of the City of Houston. I don't want to lay off anybody," said Turner.

Minutes later, Firefighter Union Chief Marty Lancton told Fox 26 his members would consider a four-year phase in.

"I invite the Mayor. I will clear my schedule for the entire week. I invite you to come meet face to face," said Lancton.

Late Wednesday afternoon Turner sent Lancton a letter outlining the City's standing offer to phase in pay parity over five years.

Council member Travis, only half in jest, proposed televising the negotiations so that Houston taxpayers can decide for themselves who is being reasonable and who is not.

Below is a letter sent from Mayor Turner to the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association: