Houston's proposed deal with city firefighters will cost nearly $1.1B to 1.3B for taxpayers

Pooja Lodhia Image
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
HFD's deal with the city will cost taxpayers $40M a year. Here's how
As the city reached a deal with the City of Houston firefighters, it was revealed that it would cost taxpayers $1.3 billion for the next two decades.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the first time, ABC13 is learning how much Houston's proposed deal with the city's firefighters will cost taxpayers.

"Before the settlement, the city already had an existing structural deficit of $160 to $200 million," City Controller Chris Hollins said. "This means that on an annual basis, our expenses are hundreds of millions of dollars more than the revenue that we are bringing in."

According to Hollins, back pay for firefighters will cost taxpayers $1.1 billion to 1.3 billion over the next 25 to 30 years. That works out to about $40 million a year.

RELATED: City of Houston moves forward with $650 million deal with fire union

Hollins said five years of promised raises will cost more than $140 million in the next five years.

"Every day that the city did not settle this, the tab was continuing to go up," said Patrick "Marty" Lancton, the president of the Houston Profession FireFighters Association, said. "The court hearing was yesterday, March 25th. The liability to the city would have been over $1.2 billion plus interest."

Hollins said the city still has enough federal COVID funding to pay for the first year of the firefighter settlement.

City officials have floated adding a trash fee or removing the city's property tax revenue cap as possible ways to pay the rest of the money.

"We have an existing structural deficit of $160 to $200 million. Tack on roughly $70-80 million in additional costs next year to pay for the first year of the new contract and the first year of the judgment bond," Hollins said.

"So, now we're $230 to $280 million in the red on an annual basis."

"We are 500 firefighters short from where we were at (in) 2010 levels. Response times are through the roof," Lancton said. "That is bad for Houstonians, that is bad for life safety, so we have to start rebuilding a world-class fire department, and you can't ignore a problem."

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RELATED: City of Houston reaches $650 million deal with fire union to help resolve outstanding pay issues