Friday, September 2, 2011
BUDGET HEARINGS ARE IMPORTANT
The last 2012 Budget Hearing will be on September 7th at 6:00 pm in the Commissioners Courtroom. This will be the third and final of the statutorily required public hearings that every county must hold. It is the public's opportunity, maybe even duty, to comment on issues they have with the proposed budget.
I attended the first and plan on attending the last. During the first hearing concerns about selected employees and elected officials receiving salary increase was brought up by several individual's in the audience. It was and remains one of my current issues with the 2012 budget.
My concerns are based on the fact that in initial planning of this year's budget (2011) there was a proposed across the board increase for all employees of two percent. No raise for elected officials just employees. Even though the money was there and the economy was much better the members of the court felt at that time no increase was needed.
It just does not make sense that with the current economic situation and the pending Luminant law suit that 51 "select" employees and elected officials receive a raise of any kind.
In the hearing I attended one elected official spoke and said that the raises for the elected officials were needed. I cannot remember the exact words, but basically the statement that was made indicated that if pay was not raised it could lead to dishonesty. Now folks, this is an elected official that made this statement.
It really did not hit home with me at first, but upon reflection was it a threat to steal? Was it indicating that county employees will become dishonest if they do not receive pay increases? What about the other employees and officials that will not get raises this year? Will they, as a result of no raise, steal from the county?
Another issue that I have is that all Milam County Justice of the Peace officials are receiving a $400 increase in travel. It was stated that Precinct 3 and 4 have to travel to the Cameron one week of each month to magistrate. Okay I understand that gasoline is expensive nowadays. However, Precinct 1 and 2 are housed in the Law Enforcement Center and they too are getting an increase in travel.
Mind you Precinct 1 and 2 have offices that are maybe a hundred or so footsteps from the magistration area, The reality is that the Law Enforcement Center was built to include two JP offices so that magistration of inmates could be done by those in the building. This was done to expedite the judicial process as well as save money for the county taxpayers.
Now I am not sure why the two newly elected Conservative Republican JP's that are housed in the Law Enforcement Center refuse to follow the lead of their predecessors, but it is costing the county money. Not much I grant you, but you gotta start saving somewhere.