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Commissioners to consider raises for county employees, including themselves

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 by Charlotte Moore

Travis County Commissioners are set today to continue consideration of proposed salaries for classified county employees and set a date for a public hearing. The commissioners themselves are also up for a salary bump.

If the increases are approved, retiring County Judge Sam Biscoe would receive $118,373 annually. That figure represents a nearly $3,500 yearly raise.

Two of Biscoe’s Commissioners’ Court colleagues – Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis and Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez – would each receive just over $98,463. That amounts to a $2,868 annual raise.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Bruce Todd agreed to collect only $1 as he fills in for Sarah Eckhardt, who resigned earlier this year to run for County Judge. Pct. 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty has requested that his compensation for Fiscal Year 2014 remain the same as his Fiscal Year 2010 salary of $90,109.

“In the six years that I was commissioner from 2002 to 2008, I always took a 10 percent pay decrease each year because I was always asking our departments to give me not just budget requests, but I was looking for them to show me ways they could cut their budget,” said Daugherty. “If I were going to ask people to do that, then I needed to lead by example. The average Travis County pay is probably a little less than $40,000. (Commissioners) already make twice as much as the rank and file. I think $90,000 is way good for a County Commissioner. Therefore, I won’t vote for the raises.”

The county’s Planning and Budget Office typically initiates the salary setting process on an annual basis at the same time it develops the next fiscal year’s budget.

For fiscal year 2014, raises are proposed for all elected officials. This includes judges, attorneys, constables, the Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton, Treasurer Dolores Ortega Carter, and Tax Assessor/Collector Bruce Elfant.

“Our goal is to be able to pull together the funding,” said County PBO Executive Leslie Browder. “We’re shooting for 3 percent for an increase for salaries for the classified workforce.”

County Commissioners got their first look at the increases last Tuesday. Other potential increases include $3,488 for County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir (a figure that would bring her salary to $119,741 annually). District Judges would also see a $3,000 increase from Travis County. Coupled with a $15,000 annual raise from the state, a positive court vote would bring their salaries to $158,000 a year.

County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, fresh off a drunken driving scandal, has requested no increase in the county’s portion of her salary for FY2014. However, thanks to legislative action, she would receive a $15,000 pay increase.

The court is expected to vote Tuesday to advertise the proposed FY 2014 salaries. That action would trigger a court salary vote on August 6. Elected officials will be notified of their FY 2014 salaries that day, and a salary grievance period would run from August 6 until August 27.

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