Houston city council set to discuss $1B firefighter pay deal on Tuesday after moving item last week

Courtney Carpenter Image
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Houston city council set to discuss $1B firefighter pay deal Tuesday
The item was tagged last week after the city controller said he couldn't approve it to go before city council because he needed to dig into the weeds of what the deal means financially for the city.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- City council is set to discuss the logistics of a backpay and raise deal for Houston firefighters worth more than $1 billion on Tuesday.

There has been years of back and forth about firefighter pay to get to this point.

A deal was made back in March -- and now, city council members must discuss how much it is going to cost and how the city will pay for it.

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

What was supposed to be a status conference turned into a back and forth when an attorney claimed 100 firefighters were being cut out of the deal.

The deal includes about $650 million in backpay for Houston firefighters who worked for years with no contract with the city, plus 34% raises over the next five years.

City Controller Chris Hollins said the city doesn't have a lot of cash sitting around, so they'll have to issue a bond to pay for it.

The discussion was supposed to be on the city council agenda last week. Council members were set to stage the items, meaning they were going to delay voting on them for at least a week.

But before they could do that, Hollins, who is tasked with certifying any financial items that go before the council, said he could not do so.

He said he had just received the collective bargaining agreement and the backpay agreement less than two days before, and he hadn't had time to dig into the weeds of what it will mean for the city financially.

"It's going to cost us somewhere between $1.1 and $1.3 billion just to finance that bond over the next 25 or 30 years, and it's something we take seriously, because, you know, my kids are still going to be paying for this when they are taxpaying adults," Hollins said.

"He's got responsibilities, and if he wants to continue studying it, reviewing it, talking to stakeholders, talking to my staff, I certainly welcome that," Mayor John Whitmire said.

The city council will pick up the discussion again on Tuesday. The new fiscal year begins on July 1, so they are working on a deadline to get the budget sorted out.

For more news updates, follow Courtney Carpenter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

RELATED: City's deal with HFD on raises sparks passionate debate about the billion-dollar price tag

Mayor John Whitmire was in a heated debate with council members after promising the Houston Fire Department back pay and raises, which comes with a billion-dollar price tag.