For the citizens who have supported us… there is no way I could ever repay you or thank you for your support.
Due to the COVID pandemic, a lot of people are hurting. Many have lost jobs and benefits, many have lost lives. There is recovery, and as a medical professional, and my wife being a medical provider, we follow the science and know now we are lightyears ahead of where we were in the beginning.
But directly to the city’s behavior, and the blind eye turned towards it…
I warned and told you.
I warned you years ago that this “pension reform” was unconstitutional (as it has been ruled in district court).
I warned you that a reckoning was coming over an elected official’s unwillingness to follow the law and negotiate contracts in good faith because the root of the cause is that “he doesn’t like us”.
Now, millions of dollars later, the city has and will lose numerous lawsuits. The court costs and back costs will be astronomical and will definitely be front page news. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will continue to fight, as that’s all he knows how to do, while a city economy bringing in $5.2 billion in tax revenue a year with an average of $200-250 more million collected every year claims to “have no money”.
The Houston Fire Department has not had any significant amounts of new stations or fire apparatus and ambulances, well, since ever. The highest tax generating communities are left stripped of ambulances daily (Kingwood, Clear Lake, Westside, The Heights, Rice Military) and I’ll tell you first hand it is frustrating. In fact I live in one of the aforementioned places.
Hurricanes will continue, news stories have shown bandaids on arterial bleeds, but we are STILL woefully understaffed and under-equipped to do the job the public expects us to. Except for one simple fact: our members literally go above and beyond and almost all the time do a remarkable job, under equipped and understaffed, and for lack of a better catch phrase “save the day”.
I expect better from conservatives in a state that is one of the few “last outposts” for conservative state legislatures.
The Harris County GOP needs to get their act together and begin to outwardly push public safety funding and put pressure on the City of Houston for their complete waste of taxpayer money over pay raises and expansion of police and fire services that only constitute a minuscule percentage of monetary increase in terms of total budget.
Where did our values go? I want trash pickup, public safety, and good roads. I care not about pet projects for liberal interest groups.
We will see how this all pans out, but I won’t lie to you, the city is about to be on the hook for a very large bill.
Anonymous Houston Fire Captain
Thanks for affirming why I got the heck out of my hometown. Sly, Mario Gallegos and John Whitmire baked in the legislative link that keeps any reforms from happening regarding the underfunded and hopelessly bankrupt pensions and post employment healthcare for city employees.
When that $1 billion bond passed that covered about 6% of the pension debt I knew my town was in as good shape as it would ever be. Watch the water/sewer bills explode next.
So much wrong here. First off, the City does not bring in $5.2 billion in tax revenue. Tax revenue, which funds the general fund that pays for public safety, consists of:
Property taxes $1.231 billion
Sales taxes $700 million
Other taxes, franchise fees, permits, etc, $199 million
Intragovernmental $230 million
Other fees, and revenue $221 million
Total revenue $2.581 billion
Reserve fund $214 million
Total resources $2.795 billion
Fire $515 million
Police $956 million
Courts/Emergency Center $39 million
Total $1.509 billion, or 59% of general fund revenue
Human and cultural services(Parks, libraries, etc) $184 million
Development and Maintenance $157 million
Administrative services $101 million
General government $214 million
Debt service and PAYGO capital expenditures $416 million
Reserve funds $214 million
Total expenditure/use $2.795 billion
General government is expenditures not related to a specific department, and includes retiree medical for non- public safety employees, lawsuit judgments, 380 agreement costs, etc.
There is no money in that budget for paying the outrageous amounts demanded by the HFD unions. Property taxes are capped, so no relief there. Sales tax rates are at the maximum allowed under state law, so no relief there either. So, no money to pay inflated salaries and pensions to HFD.
Now, there’s other pieces of the budget that may confuse some folks. That’s the enterprise funds for the airport, convention and visitors, utility systems, drainage and storm funds, and some other smaller items. The revenues for those funds(which are not taxes) cannot be used for general fund purposes. If the airport makes a profit, the extra must go to the airport, not the general fund. That means none of that money is available for funding HFD pay raises.
I am ignoring the pension issue for now, other than to say that anyone who isn’t a firefighter gets nowhere near the same kind of lucrative retirement benefit, complete with COLA.
So, firefighters, cry me a river. You aren’t suffering at all, and your rent seeking union leaders are trying to screw taxpayers. I’ll tell you what my employer says – if you don’t like the pay, leave. I am tired of your outrageous demands for bigger slurps out of the public trough.
Hey there fellow HPD officer.
You be safe
Not Ross says
Ross, sure sounds like a Turner mouthpiece. Maybe this will better help you understand.
“There is no money in that budget for paying the outrageous amounts demanded by the HFD unions. Property taxes are capped, so no relief there. Sales tax rates are at the maximum allowed under state law, so no relief there either. So, no money to pay inflated salaries and pensions to HFD.”
Ummm, maybe do your research? Clearly, math isn’t your strong suit. So let me help break down a few points for you. Let me know if it helps.
In 2018, such “outrageous” demands from Houston Police Union resulted in a…….. wait for it…… $98 million contract one month before 300,000 Voters VOTED for Prop B!!! No outrage there huh Ross?
Those greedy firefighters though……$98 million to pay firefighters and paramedics (FUN FACT $98 million is PRECISELY the cost Turner said Prop B would be and would cripple the city into bankruptcy). A bridge too far ehh? Guess not?
“So, firefighters, cry me a river. You aren’t suffering at all, and your rent seeking union leaders are trying to screw taxpayers. I’ll tell you what my employer says – if you don’t like the pay, leave. I am tired of your outrageous demands for bigger slurps out of the public trough.”
Not to worry Ross, hundreds of firefighters and paramedics have already left. May be the reason why HFD is critically understaffed don’t you think? Units are taken out of service DAILY because of this very reason. Soooo, maybe realign your thoughts with facts instead of regurgitating Turner and HPOU talking points.
Have a Good Day!
Bob In Champions says
I was listening him out until he turned the tone to two things that immediately lose credibility for me:
– name calling (whether the adjectives are true or not, you’re not showing good faith… it’s just complaining)
– asserting that the rich deserve special treatment
Then, as I scrolled down to see what others said, as I respect this page as place where actual discussion happens (and not just mudslinging), I see that the author submitted it anonymously.
Now, I understand a fear of retaliation, but doing so anonymously means that they want the last word and not to engage in a resolution that is something shy of “I get everything I want”
Nothing is going to change until the Harris County GOP fields a serious GOP candidate for Mayor and uses funds to support said candidate. I don’t mean a former democratic party leader and deep pocket lawyer known to throw money at fellow democrats, nor do I mean a RINO who speaks from both sides of his mouth depending on the audience but a real Republican. There are enough Republicans and conservatives living inside the city limits to win if such a candidate is presented but the jokers leading the county GOP prefer to have a villain in office for mayor just as they appear to have given up on most county positions.
As far as city police and fire employees are concerned, both groups supported Turner when he ran for office over the years, the fire union supporting him in his first successful run for mayor. When he turned on them as we said he would, they blamed everyone else and they have been trying to re-write history ever since. There have been court rulings for and against their efforts and nothing is final yet, but keep in mind that pension reform was championed by Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, our Republican Speaker of the House, and most Republicans in the state legislature. Both unions deserve the misery they have sown supporting democrats so if the city ends up cutting services to pay some court judgement, they can live with the resulting cuts just like those in the city will have to. I doubt many want to cut those pet projects like all the libraries, city water & sewer, and street repair crews to maintain staffing at potentially higher rates.