I attended the Commissioners Court meeting Monday morning and wish more folks would attend and see county government in action. Two primary items on the agenda of public interest were the 2% raise for all county officials and employees and a salary adjustment for employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
Since last year the Judge has been predicting dire financial circumstances for the county. However, his explanation Monday morning showed a much brighter outlook for 2017. Bottom line is that the county has over 970,000 dollars in reserve. As the Judge stated the “County is solvent.” If you got 970,000 dollars in reserve you are not broke.
The 2% raise was a little sticker situation. A letter was presented in court from attorneys that represent Milam County that went into great detail about the issues involved with the raise. The conclusion is stated below.
“Based on the information provided, the Milam County elected officials should be paid the salary contained in the notices that include the 2% raise, to be paid from the beginning of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The county may be liable for not paying the county auditor for her increased salary as set by the district judges, as she is not required to avail herself of the grievance procedure before filing suit in a court of law based on a contest of her salary. The commissioners court has the discretion to determine whether to give raises to the remaining county employees as well as, continuing the one-time salary increase for the County jailers and dispatchers.”
In plain terms the elected officials were stuck with their 2%, but had discretion as whether to give all employees a raise or not. You need to also be aware of the fact that the money for the raises is already in the budget. The total budget did not increase due to the 2%. That being said I applaud the commissioners (those that voted for it) for giving the employees a raise. Would have been bad had the officials gotten a raise and their employees got nothing. Especially since the money is already in the budget.
Let’s put 2% into perspective here. Say average county salary is 50,000 dollars, and it is not, but for demonstration purposes I will use that figure. Based on a figure of 2% that comes out to 1,000 dollars per year. That is a raise of $83.33 per month, or $41.67 per paycheck. For some employees that could be just enough to put them into another tax bracket and they actually take home less pay per pay period.
On the raise for the Sheriff’s employees it should be understood that all money for that raise is coming out of the Sheriff’s budget. The vote on that was unanimous. The fact is to keep good people you have to pay them a living wage. If you think the jailers make too much get the Sheriff to let you shadow one of his jailers for one shift. Guarantee you will change your mind.
Last but not least I was somewhat disgusted by one of the public participants that openly threatened the court if they voted to give the raises. If you do not like what elected officials do you vote them out. That goes without saying. To get up there and publicly threaten them shows a real lack of character in my opinion. Then again maybe the threats were what made two members of the court vote against their employees