Letters – County Judge Salary and MLC Principal
Reader blasts Judge on stipend
To the Editor:
Unfortunately it appears that Caldwell County Judge Schawe does not stand by his promises to the citizens. Is he not a man of his word? (Post-Register – Schawe eyes taking judicial duties)
I am the citizen that asked the specific question during the Candidate Forum held at the McMahan
Community Center during the last election cycle as to whether the County Judge candidates would devote 100 percent of their time to the business of the County or if they would seek to also become certified as a Probate Judge. Judge Schawe, as did the other candidates, stood before the citizens and stated he would not seek to be certified as a Probate Judge and that he would devote 100 percent of his time and duties to running the business of Caldwell County. If he now wants to “change his mind,” take back his promise, and have the judicial responsibilities in order to receive an additional $25,200 per year then he should wait until his term is up for re-election and announce at that time his intentions.
Elected officials need to remember that by our vote they are hired to do a job; we as voters cannot “change our mind” to take back our votes. He knew what the salary for this position was at that time, if there is not enough “County business” to take care of and there is that much extra time then do not ask the taxpayers for a raise.
He should be open and honest and state at re-election time he will seek to spend 40 percent of his time in exchange for $25,200 from the State of Texas (also taxpayer money) and only give the citizens of Caldwell County 60 percent of his time for $51,603 (taxpayer money). Of course, simple math tells me if someone is willing to work 40 percent of the time for $25,200 then 60 percent of their time is only worth $37,800, not $51,603.
Unfortunately the County budget is prepared by the County Judge and the County Auditor, and it appears both are receiving pay raises in the budget and we the taxpayers are receiving a large tax increase.
If the Commissioners do not accept the budget then the County shuts down, the citizens would be left without services and our dedicated county employees would not be receiving their paychecks. I do not have anything personally against the County Auditor but I do find it interesting that she applied for and was appointed to the position of Tax Assessor Collector in 2012, and at that time she was willing to do that job for less than $40,000 per year.
During the 2012 election cycle she was not successful in seeking to be elected to the position of Tax Assessor Collector but by running for that office it showed that she was content with the salary posted. Fast forward and she is appointed this time by the District Judges to be the County Auditor and accepts that position around April April 2015.
Unfortunately the “County Auditor” is appointed by the District Judges and I’m not exactly sure how that process works as to whether the position is advertised to the general public and applications along with resumes are accepted, applicants are then interviewed or not. The District Judges also set the salary for the County Auditor and the County Commissioners do not have a say in the matter.
The County budget adopted for 2015-2016 as shown on the County’s website shows the budgeted salary for the Auditor to be $57,000 which would be the same salary as the highest paid elected county officer for that year. A budget amendment was requested on Oct. 12, 2015 to increase the auditor’s salary to $64,146. Whether this was legal or not, according to the Texas Local Government Code, Title 5., Subtitle B., Section 152..032 (http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/LG/htm/LG.152.htm), would depend on what number is used for the population of Caldwell County.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the county population to be 40,522 in 2015 which is the same number reported by Caldwell County to the Texas Association of Counties for 2015. If the 40,522 population number as reported is used then the Caldwell Auditor would not be exempt from Section 152.032.
This makes one wonder if this is all part of a plan. Did Caldwell County exceed the population restriction in the law in 2015 and this is why the County Judge is ready to break his campaign promise to the citizens?
Why should the County Auditor continue to receive large pay raises in the 15 percent range per year while the other County employees will only receive around 5 percent this year? If the County Judge accepts the additional taxpayer monies from the State in the amount of $25,200 plus the $51,603 it would open the door to pay the County Auditor the $75,000 that was approved by the District Judges and therefore come into compliance with the above Texas law but the taxpayers of Caldwell County would be the ones loosing and footing the bill.
Republican or Democrat is irrelevant, this about people being honest, trustworthy and fiscally responsible to all the citizens of Caldwell County.
LISD speaks to leadership changes at Cisneros
Thank you for helping your children prepare for the new school year. As many of you may know, beginning next school year the 2017-2018 school year, Phase II of construction at Lockhart High School will be complete. At that time, all students in 9th-12th grade will attend Lockhart High School. The planning for this transition is already in motion and will continue throughout the year. Much of our start-of-year training and planning has occurred with the high school campus staff and freshman campus staff side-by-side.
Mrs. Presley’s departure as Principal of the M.L. Cisneros Freshman Campus has created an opportunity to move forward with restructuring of the high school administrative staff in preparation for the combination of the high school campus and freshman campus the 2017-2018 school year. Lockhart ISD will post an Associate Principal for Instruction position for Lockhart High School. For the remainder of this school year, this position will act as principal of M.L. Cisneros Freshman campus as well as begin to establish systems to support instructional programming at the high school level that will prepare our students for the future. In the 2017-2018, the position will be a part of the high school administrative team.
Until a suitable candidate for Associate Principal is found, I am pleased to announce that Mr. Mark Estrada, Principal of Lockhart Junior High, will serve as interim principal at M.L. Cisneros Freshman campus. As principal of both campuses, Mr. Estrada will work with all staff members and campus administration to ensure that quality teaching and learning remains the focus. I know that Mr. Estrada is looking forward to continuing working with the ninth grade students he has built strong relationships with over the past two years.
At the district level, my staff and I are committed to doing all that is necessary to support Mr. Estrada and the staff of both M.L. Cisneros Freshman campus and Lockhart Junior High School to insure that high student achievement remains the priority. Thank you for your support during this time of transition.
Susan K. Bohn