Thursday morning, Mayor Annise Parker confirmed she would be forced to layoff city employees when she sent a letter out to council members and department heads.
KPRC Local 2 is working on this story and will have updates later today:
I’ve posted the Mayor’s letter below:
Information Regarding Implementation of Departmental Layoff Plans
- This is a sad day, as it marks the start of the various departmental layoffs needed to reduce operating expenses in order to balance the City budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011. We have known this day was coming for weeks, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
- These are very tough decisions for everyone involved because we know that lives are being impacted – that people are losing their livelihoods due to no fault of their own. Unfortunately, we have to make these tough decisions so that we can move this great city through the tough times.
- There will be some service reductions as a result of these layoffs. However, every possible avenue is being explored to minimize the impact of those reductions on citizens.
- The budget for the coming fiscal year remains a work in progress, with public safety being our number one priority. The goal is to avoid layoffs in that area.
- We are forced to begin providing layoff notices to the employees in non-public safety areas now in order to meet all legal requirements. Each employee must be given notice at least 45 days in advance of his/her termination date.
- The current plan calls for departments to issue layoff notices between now and May 17, 2011.
- All affected employees will remain on the payroll through July 1, 2011. Some will continue reporting to their job sites until that date. Exceptions will be made on a limited basis consistent with the best interests of the City.
- Department directors have been instructed to be lenient with employees who may need time off for job hunting responsibilities between now and their termination date. Various job placement services and counseling are being offered.
- We have kept the HOPE Union informed throughout this entire process. In addition, HOPE is working with our legal and human resources departments to provide additional transitional assistance for its members.
- Economic improvements seen in the last month or so have allowed us to reduce the number of planned layoffs by more than half. If there is further improvement, it is possible that some of the remaining planned layoffs could be reversed.
- Houston is still better off than most other cities in the nation. The signs of economic improvement we are seeing today provide assurance that the brighter tomorrow we wait for is just around the corner.