Commissioner Ford Sets Stage for Battle Over Commissioners' Salaries
SAN ANGELO, TX -- Tom Green County Commissioner Bill Ford voted against a three percent salary increase for county elected officials on Tuesday, setting the stage for a salary grievance hearing.
Back on July 17, Ford said he wanted a ten percent raise because Tom Green County Commissioners are paid $10,000 to $15,000 less than their counterparts in similar counties. According to the Texas Association of Counties, Tom Green County Commissioners are paid $49,476 annually plus a $11,259 car allowance for a total compensation of $60,735.
Commissioner Ford told us his intent is to increase the salary and compensation for all commissioners to attract future talent to run for the office. He notes that Tom Green County, at $60,735 annual commissioner's salary, ranks this county’s commissioners compensation on the bottom rung of the ladder when compared several counties with similar sized budgets.
Taylor County, where the county seat is Abilene, pays its commissioners $79,254 annually, provides a vehicle, and pays an annually stipend of $780. Taylor County’s annual budget is $65 million compared to Tom Green County’s annual budget of $45 million.
Ford represents Precinct 4 that generally consists of the southwest quadrant of the county and includes the town of Christoval to the south. He is running unopposed for his third four-year term in November. Ford will not be up for re-election again until 2022.
The Commissioner’s Court will select three members of the public to serve on the salary grievance committee. County Judge Steve Floyd said Tuesday they would create the salary grievance committee in anticipation of a grievance being filed. Ford is the only elected official who has publicly commented on the proposed salary for FY 2019.
The court voted four to one in favor of a three percent raise for elected officials for FY 2019. Ford was the lone no vote.
As we reported on July 17, according to the Texas Association of Counties, Chapter 152 of the Local Government Code creates a salary grievance process for elected county officials to challenge their salaries, expenses, and allowances as set out in the proposed budget.
Under the Code, notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county at least 10 days prior to any meeting at which proposed increases in salaries, expenses or allowances will be discussed.
Written notice must also be provided to each elected county and precinct officer detailing the salary and personal expenses to be included in the budget. An elected county or precinct officer who disagrees with the salary or personal expenses provided in the proposed budget may request a hearing before the salary grievance committee before the budget’s final approval.
The nine-member salary grievance committee generally consists of the county judge, sheriff, tax assessor-collector, treasurer, county clerk, district clerk, county attorney or criminal district attorney, and the number of members of the public necessary to provide nine voting members. The county judge is chair of the committee but is not entitled to vote. As an alternative, the commissioners court may vote to have the committee consist of nine public members, which is also chaired by the county judge.
The decision by the salary grievance committee is final and cannot be appealed.
Also Tuesday, the court voted to set the maximum tax rate for FY 2019 at 54.5 cents per $100 in property value, the same as the current tax rate. The difference is the Interest in sinking rate will be 7.159 cents and the maintenance and operating rate will be 47.341 cents for a total tax rate of 54.5 cents. That will create an projected operating deficit of approximately $500,000 for FY 2019.
The court also set two public hearings on the budget and tax rate. The first public hearing will be Tuesday, August 14 at 9:30 a.m. following the regular commissioners court meeting. The final public hearing is set for Thursday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. so members of the public will have a opportunity after work to comment on the budget and tax rate.
The commissioners court will adopt a budget and set the tax rate following the final public hearing.
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