Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner blames voter-approved firefighter pay raises for having to close a $179 million budget gap.
"It represents the largest deficit in recent history, primarily driven by the cost of Proposition B, contractually mandated increases including police and municipal pay raises for the current meet and confer agreements, as well as health benefits," said Turner.
The mayor unveiled his $5.1 billion spending plan Tuesday morning. It projects a $7.4 million increase in property taxes while also drawing down $116 million from sales taxes, land sales other controlled hiring.
"This budget would have balanced without any layoffs at all, we would have been able to put more dollars into restructuring the Other Post-Employment Benefits and reducing that cost, but Proposition B is adding $79 million to the city's bottom line."
Mayor Turner claims he could have reduced spending further, even without layoffs, if it wasn't for firefighter pay raises.
"Hurricane season is approaching, that's why preferably it would have been better if we had phased-in Proposition B, that certainly would have helped," he said. "In the absence of that as we implement it, we left a bit of a cushion in there in case it is needed.