Voters to decide if Houston firefighters will get pay raises for first time in years

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HFD's parity petition will be on the November ballot.

A year-old initiative from Houston firefighters for higher pay will go in front of voters in November, city leaders voted Wednesday.

Houston city council members voted to place it on the Nov. 6 ballot, creating the least messy path to a vote.

To call the path to this point messy would be an understatement. It's included several trips in front of a judge with wins on both sides and angry words in public and online.

RELATED: 'How about you resign?' Houston council members get heated after failed meeting

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Firefighters battle a fire in an undated file photo.

The issue centers on what's called 'pay parity.' It would pay firefighters the same amount as police officers in similar ranks and positions.

Firefighters haven't gotten a raise in years.

Who's to blame for that depends on who you ask.

The Houston Professional Firefighters Association points to years of what they call bad-faith negotiations that went nowhere.
The city blames the union for not agreeing to reasonable raises, even if they aren't exactly what the firefighters would like.

The disagreement led to firefighters gathering more than 60,000 signatures for the parity issue last year.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner admits firefighters deserve a raise but says the issue is expensive and would lead to layoffs.

RELATED: Mayor Turner scolds council over firefighter's pay petition

"It will put us in deep financial trouble," Turner said Wednesday. "Where shall the cuts come from? Shall they come from your districts?"

"It may not be about liberty and democracy, but it is about financial stability," Turner said.

Today's decision avoids a messy charter issue with the city that could've led to the issue being pushed to 2021.

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