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Houston City Council delays vote on $1.5 billion firefighters’ deal

By Indira Zaldivar & Edward Saenz

The Houston City Council delayed the vote on the city’s proposed budget for next year and the  approval of Houston’s proposed $1.5-billion deal for a new contract and backpay for Houston Firefighters during Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The firefighter’s deal is pending review from the City Controller Chris Hollins, the city’s chief financial officer.

Houston City Council also said during a budget meeting that they need more time to review the contract.

Hollins said his office just received the collective bargaining agreement on Monday afternoon. The two-day turnaround time for review and recommendation is not enough, he said, to certify the agreement. 

“We had less than two days to consider what’s roughly 150 pages,” Hollins said before city council on Wednesday.

“This is upwards of a billion dollars of a financial impact for the city, and it’s my responsibility to,  at a baseline, understand what’s going on in it before putting it forward to you,”

Hollins said the financial reporting team has started to directly review financial terms of the documents to perform analysis.

Hollins explained that the certification is a stamp of approval based on “ultimately the availability of funds.

“To understand the availability of funds, we need to understand the financial impact, to understand the financial impact we need to read the document,” Hollins said.

“The Firefighters agreement is incredibly important and is incredibly weighty in terms of its magnitude and the impact on the city and our future financially.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the contract and budget next Wednesday.