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Houston City Council unanimously approves more than $1 billion firefighter settlement

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Houston City Council unanimously approved a backpay settlement and labor agreement with the Houston Fire Department Tuesday.

The video above is from a previous report.

The deal’s approval comes after approximately eight years of bitter negotiations. During that time, Houston firefighters worked without a contract.

City Controller Chris Hollins said the $650 million deal will cost Houston approximately $1.2 to $1.5 billion over the next three decades, with interest taken into consideration because bonds are being issued to fund it.

Hollins sent a memorandum to Whitmire and other officials Sunday evening. He wrote in part, “As you know, by no fault of the firefighters, it remains unclear how the City will pay for this proposed deal (in addition to police raises and other budget increases of significance). The near-record fund balance on hand will only get us through the coming fiscal year. After spending down roughly $200 million of the total fund balance in Fiscal Year 2025, the City will no longer have it as an option going forward. It is vital for adequate revenue sources to be identified in coming months to keep the City financially afloat without sacrificing the quality of City service delivery or Houstonians quality of life.”

The city will not seek new revenue sources to fund the settlement in the 2025 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2024. Instead, Hollis said the city will burn through approximately 40% of its current fund balance, something he equated to a savings account. Next fiscal year, Whitmire said the city will seek new revenue sources.

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This story comes from our news partner ABC13 Houston.