On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Houstonians will have the opportunity to vote on two city charter referendums, Propositions A and B. Here is a glimpse at both.
The City of Houston’s Proposition A will continue Rebuild Houston, the pay-as-you-go program for improving and rebuilding drainage and streets.
FOR – Supporters of Prop A argue that storm drains in some parts of Houston are more than 80 years old. They believe having a dedicated fund to pay for drainage and street upgrades will help Houstonians protect homes and families from future floods.
AGAINST – Critics of Prop A say the city has only spent 43 percent of drainage fees on completely refurbishing certain subdivisions’ streets, sidewalks, curbs and storm water drains. They argue that we have no idea if the “drainage” work done by the Rebuild Houston program has done anything to actually reduce flooding.
Proposition B would require the city to start paying its firefighters the same as its police officers, creating “parity pay” with a 29 percent raise (that increases to 32 percent the following year).
FOR – Houston is currently the largest city in the United States in which firefighters and police do not have pay parity. Supporters point to the Fiscal Year 2016 budget on the city’s website. It’s the last budget that includes a breakdown for the fire department’s payroll. The firefighters haven’t had a raise since.
AGAINST – Critics argue that pay hike would cost the City $98 million in the first year and require a decrease in some services to pay for it. They also say firefighters work nine 24-hour shifts each month, can sleep during their shifts and have the rest of the month off. They have a pension plan that is more generous than the police officers’ plan and some have lucrative second jobs.