I suppose this was inevitable.
Mayor Annise Parker announced a voluntary furlough program for civilian employees in December, the first in what may be a series of difficult steps the city must take to close a $30 million budget deficit in the next six months.
Parker said she would take a furlough — a day off without pay — and five City Council members standing with her also agreed to do likewise, including Sue Lovell, Al Hoang, Jolanda Jones, Wanda Adams and Brenda Stardig. At best, the city could reap $1 million in savings from the program, although Parker said it was too soon to know how many employees would participate.
“The budget is tightening up,” Parker said. “Some of the savings we are working on … probably will not materialize this fiscal year.”
In addition to the $30 million gap the city must close in the next six months, there remains a $118 million gap in 2012 and about a $420 million projected deficit in the next three years. To deal with those gaps, the administration has begun to contemplate raising taxes, instituting additional furloughs and renegotiating pension payments.
City Controller Ronald Green, who said he planned to take a furlough, predicted that involuntary furloughs would be inevitable.
As I’ve been saying, it’s a function of what amount of government services we’re willing to tolerate, and what amount we actually want. And anyone who talks about “sacrifice” without including a higher property tax rate as an option is someone who’s hoping that sacrifice will be borne by others. Stace has more.
City of Houston Civilian Workers: Stepping Up to Close the Budget Gap
City workers support Mayor Parker’s Voluntary Furlough plan, are ready to share the load during worst economic crisis in decades
HOUSTON—Today, the Houston Organization of Public Employees (HOPE)—the city of Houston municipal employees’ union—endorsed Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s decision to offer workers voluntary furloughs in the month of December. HOPE members originated the idea as a way to avoid more painful cuts to public services in 2011.
HOPE President and Public Works employee Melvin Hughes said, “Though the recession was caused by greed on Wall Street, we are stepping up to the plate because Houston has a revenue problem that is hurting workers and taxpayers alike. HOPE members want to be part of the solution.”
Hughes plans to be one of the first to take a voluntary furlough day, one way city workers are preparing to share the burden in order to make it through this recession.
HOPE Executive Director Annika Dowling attended Mayor Parker’s news conference on Friday afternoon. She praised city workers who are focused on protecting public services from the effects of the recession. “City employees are the heartbeat of Houston,” said Dowling. “Every day, HOPE members make our city better by finding better, smarter and less costly ways to serve the public. Now, with this furlough program, they are volunteering to lead Houston out of the budget gap and towards an economy that works for everyone.”