More than 200 Houston firefighters will be laid off after the City Council approved the measure Wednesday during a heated debate. The decision comes as the city tries to implement voter-mandated pay parity between the local police and fire departments. Mayor Sylvester Turner has said that the measure will cost the city $307 million from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2023.
In order to pay for that, Turner says layoffs are needed. In the measure passed Wednesday, the city of Houston will layoff 220 firefighters. The vote was 10-6.
Council volleyed back and forth over whether to delay the vote on layoffs. Councilman Mike Knox said it interfered with ongoing court-ordered mediation between the city and the firefighters union over how to implement voter-mandated raises.
“I’m just asking the administration to hold off bringing this before council until it is a requirement that we have to make this decision,” Knox said.
However, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the decision couldn’t wait.
“And in all due respect, it is a requirement,” Turner said. “The budget requires that you make a decision today.”