Budget Cuts To Houston Fire Department Loom As Overtime Pay Adds Up To More Than $8 Million Shortfall

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Tomorrow Houston council members will consider what to do about a bleeding budget in the Houston Fire Department. HFD is projected to be more than $8 million over budget by the end of the fiscal year.

The budget shortfall comes from a unexpected amount of overtime in the Houston Fire Department.

Houston Councilmembers will be presented with several proposals to address the issue during a Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee meeting.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says she places responsibility for the overages on HFD.

"My preference is that the fire department manage their own budget. And this is a conversation I've had consistently with my department directors, in that they have an opportunity to present their budget and once the budget is passed, they need to live within their means."

Parker's administration will present proposals to the budget committee on how to address the unexpected overages, but she declined to elaborate on the specifics of those recommendations. She did say she will not ask for budget cuts from other departments.

"In order to maintain a balanced budget, I would have to take money from some other department to plug the hole in fire. I'm not inclined to do that. And so I have instructed the fire department to figure out an operations plan that takes care of that within their own budget."

Fire Chief Terry Garrison has previously stated he's postponed all training classes, canceled a paramedics class and eliminated two management positions in response to the budget problems.

HFD operates on an annual budget of $447 million.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...