Up to 500 layoffs now eyed as HFD pay raises confirmed

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The city of Houston says pay raises to firefighters from voter-approved Prop B will be paid in the second week of May.

The city announced Monday that the lump sum in the amount of $31 million will now result in the layoffs of 400 to 500 firefighters and municipal employees.

The first layoff notices will be given in the first part of April while "the city continues to find ways to balance the budget and minimize layoffs," according to a city news release.

Earlier this month, the city estimated job cuts of up to 375 city employees.

"I said to voters, 'It will cost more than what we have, and it will lead to layoffs.' I said that. There is no funding source attached to Proposition B. Those have not changed," Mayor Sylvester Turner said shortly after the original estimate was publicized.

"Nobody wants to see public employee layoffs, but just like hard-working Houston families, the city must live within its means and reduce expenses to pay its bills when income is limited," Turner said when the Prop B implementation plans were confirmed. "There's no magic wand we can use to make financial challenges disappear."

The city added that a consulting firm last year recommended reducing the firefighter force by up to 845 positions. The firm also estimated that fighting fires made up less than 30 percent of the fire department's workload.

Tuesday, firefighters and their supporters march to City Hall over the planned layoffs.

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