Precinct 4 announces major budget cuts, layoffs

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by Kevin Reece/11 News

khou.com

Posted on March 11, 2011 at 8:13 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 11 at 8:46 PM

HOUSTON -- Harris County budget cuts hit hard Friday at the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office; and the cuts will also impact two school districts and the Harris County Department of Education.
 
To compensate for a $7.1 million reduction in the budget, Constable Ron Hickman announced Friday that his entire staff, currently 415 employees, will take a 3 percent pay cut. Hickman says that 3 percent reduction in pay includes his salary as well.
 
In the next two weeks, Hickman expects to announce somewhere between 70 to 80 layoffs throughout Precinct 4.
 
And they have decided to cancel the service contracts with Cy Fair ISD, Tomball ISD, and the Harris County Department of Education.  HCDE, Cy Fair ISD and Tomball ISD do not have their own police departments. By contract there are being given a 30-day notice that Precinct 4 will no longer provide on campus patrols. The schools will have to establish their own police departments or contract with other agencies.

The school contracts amount to 41 Precinct 4 employees: 38 of them working with Cy Fair ISD. Hickman did not yet know how many of those employees might be included in the larger layoff number of 70 to 80.
 
“[It is] certainly one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done,” said Hickman. “To look people in the eye that I’ve known for years, for new people that I was actually excited to pick up. We’ve had to call people who were going to be hired, who absolutely cried when we told them we were going to hire them, and were absolutely distraught when we told them we couldn’t. So those are very tough things.”
 
Hickman says the 3 percent across the board pay cut is effective immediately with the next pay period. The decision on who will get pink slips, potentially including both deputies and support staff, will come in the next two weeks.
 
“These are some of the most difficult decisions I have encountered in almost 40 years of this business,” said Hickman.

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