Sunday, January 2, 2011

Illegal County Raises...The Rest of the Story

Happy New Year to one and all. Hope it was safe and fun for everyone. 2011 will bring many new challenges to state and local government. Each and every citizen can help meet these challenges by simply making a New Year's resolution to become better informed and educated about the issues in local and state government.

One thing that more information and becoming better educated will do is allow you to understand the issues better and see through the spin that politicians will throw at you. Take the spin used by John Carter in the last campaign referring to the election of a certain party's ticket would create jobs and rebuild infrastructure in Milam County. Really?

Another recent issue brought forth by the public watchdogs in Milam County is illegal raises given by the Commissioners Court. Sometimes the media gets only one side of the story. Well, read on for the rest of the story.

The Court in fact did not give any pay raises to any county employees as stated. What the court did was to approve the budget amendment that resulted when the department head gave their employee a pay raise.

County positions are funded with a certain amount of money. If someone is hired for less than that amount the department head can later give that employee a raise since the money is already in the budget. There is no increase in the budget due to the raise. As a matter of fact it is standard procedure for new county employees to be eligible for a 1,000 dollar pay increase after a six month probation period.

Furthermore, there are many statutes and Attorney General Opinions that deal with the Commissioners Court interfering with an elected official's management of their department. Bottom-line is the court has absolutely no authority to tell them who they can or can't hire and what they can or cannot pay. If the position is budgeted and they stay within the limits of their budget it is basically up to them, not the court to give a raise.

It was also brought to my attention that the county was trying to hide from the public that only employees from two (2) precincts were getting raises. Not sure where they got their information, but in budget amendments approved on December 13th 3 employees from the County Attorney's Office and one Dispatcher in the Sheriff's Office received raises, while the salaries for one position in the Sheriff's Office and one position in Precinct 1 actually received decreases.

On November 22nd 27 positions across many departments including County and District Clerk, County Attorney, Tax Office received raises, and 13 positions received decreased amounts for 2011. One position that is grant funded and not directly related to the court's authority received an increase as well. I wonder why the whole story was not told and why those making allegations failed to mention the decreases approved by the court?

I am not sure whether those complaining were misled, misinformed, or just putting their own spin on the story but again the rest of the story was not told. Just one example again where the radical fanatics attempt to pull the wool over your eyes. Just like our Washington politicians. I am not sure which are really more dangerous.

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