Campaign against fire 'parity pay' funded by mayor, police union, reports show

ByTed Oberg and Keaton Fox via KTRK logo
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
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Mayor Sylvester Turner and the fire union went head-to-head on Saturday to debate a contentious issue on the November ballot.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Political campaign opposition to firefighter pay parity, known as Proposition B, is fueled by Mayor Sylvester Turner himself and the Houston Police Officer's Union, campaign finance filings show.

The Protect Houston Political Action Committee has been running television ads and an running an online campaign called "Against Prop B."

The most recent filing, submitted Tuesday, shows two contributions since the last required filing: $35,000 from HPOU and $25,537 from Sylvester Turner in the form of an in-kind contribution of radio advertisement and production, the documents show.

Campaign organizers paid a campaign organizer, a polling firm and for advertising, according to the filing.

Similarly, the firefighter's campaign for the measure filed finance reports today. The Support our Firefighter's PAC took in $76,167 in contributions from a variety of sources, including other departments around the state. Most of the contributions were small, individual donations. The largest donation was a $50,000 donation from the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The campaign spent money on campaign events, advertising, and consulting expense.

The two sides sparred over the issue Saturday in a debate, but have fought for months over the issue. The issue has put firefighters in the ring with police and the mayor, all fighting each other over the issue.

At the same time, the city of Houston finance department released its projections for how much a recently approved police raise would cost the city. The two-year cost is $53 million, but a third year projection puts the cost at $98 million.

READ: City of Houston finance report, including a three-year projection for police pay. On mobile? Click here to read.

That projection includes all the additional costs for the raise and is standard operating procedure as a finance "analytical process," Turner communication director Alan Bernstein said. It did not represent an actual cost because the police union's contract is for only two years and anything beyond that is theoretical until a contract is reached, Bernstein said.

Voters head to the polls on Nov. 6.

Turner has warned Prop B will cost $98 million a year and will cost thousands of workers their jobs. Houston can't afford that much of an increase in one year, he's repeatedly said. Turner offered firefighters a 9.5 percent raise over three years that remains on the table, but Turner wouldn't commit to that offer being on the table after election day.

Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighter's Association, said Saturday he would work with the city to find a workable solution if Prop B passed.

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