To the Editor:
Remember when “fair” was “right” and “discriminatory” was “wrong?” In Commissioners’ Court, these terms are fuzzy at best.
Last year, “merit pay” was used by our county administrator(s) to reward those who went above and beyond their job description. Many residents viewed this “merit pay” as discriminatory as many – if not most – of merit pay recipients were personal friends, affiliated to like political party, and/or had been given their county position under Judge Bonn’s influence with the judicial system.
Although “merit pay” as such has been discontinued, it appears it is back in an even grander scale. Here’s how it works: the Human Resource Department, (appointed by the “R-Trio”), is under the auspices of our appointed County Administrator, who was also voted in by the “R-Trio.” These two entities have hand selected 26 municipalities, which they have decided are “comparable” to Caldwell County. (Never mind that some of these municipalities are far below our county’s population, our average household income and receive much lower revenue amounts; while others, such as El Paso and Travis County, are far, far above in population, average household income and revenue).
The specific county officials and their employees were then hand selected and plugged into a specific municipality’s salary; some paired with large municipalities with large salaries and others paired with small municipalities with lower salaries. When I asked Ms. Kortan of HR how this determination was made (which official was paired with which municipality), she said it was determined by the specific officials’ job description.
In my mind, if you are performing as an official in El Paso, then you are over qualified and are simply wasting the taxpayers’ money. You should be employed in a larger municipality where these advanced skills are necessary. On the other hand, if you are performing the required tasks as an official in a much smaller municipality, then you are obviously underperforming and require more on-the-job training.
Then, our County Administrators decided that in order to bring Caldwell’s salaries into line with those of other “like” municipalities, 20 percent should be added each year for five years until salaries are compatible and “fair.”
Commissioner Madrigal (again) reminded the court that some Caldwell employees’ salaries are currently far below and these employees are being forced to seek higher paying employment elsewhere. He recommended that these employees be given a higher percentage to help erase this large discrepancy. Commissioner Madrigal was told that a higher percentage could be considered “discriminatory.”
So let me see if I understand this correctly… it’s discriminatory to bring salaries that are presently far below standard up to where the others already are, but not discriminatory to bestow “mega-salaries” comparable to municipalities that have much higher revenues and over a million in population to some hand selected departments, while other departments are being compared to much smaller and lower revenue municipalities who pay less?
Remember when “fair” was “right” and “discriminatory” was “wrong?”