By Kathi Bliss
The Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court held a brief meeting on Monday morning, discussing only the most cursory of routine business before adjourning until August.
The meeting began with a moment of silence in honor of County Judge Tom Bonn’s mother, who passed away in North Texas over the weekend.
The three present Commissioners, Neto Madrigal, Joe Roland and Fred Buchholtz, touched briefly on a variety of issues; leading the day once again was discussion of the “county salary survey” being prepared by Human Resources Director Deborah Kortan.
Caldwell County District Clerk Tina Morgan came forward during the meeting to express concerns about the survey, noting what she believes to be errors on the survey and flaws in the process.
Morgan told the Court members that several entries on the salary survey have been changed since earlier drafts were presented, and said those numbers appeared to unfairly weigh the survey in favor of some departments, and against others.
“Counties are being used for comparison for some departments that aren’t being used for others,” she said. “It doesn’t appear to be consistent.”
Morgan said the survey for her department included several low-paying counties, which brings down the average salary being used to determine the appropriate salary levels for certain jobs. Those counties, she said, are not being used to calculate the average pay for positions in other departments.
Acknowledging the need to address salaries countywide,, Morgan said she feels that the comparisons should be done consistently and fairly, with all departments being given the same consideration. Some departments, such as the sheriff’s department, are being weighted not only with the surrounding counties but against area municipal law enforcement agencies, as well.
Kortan defended the procedure of the survey, noting that the municipal law enforcement agencies were included because those are the departments to which the county loses trained employees when they leave for better pay. She also said several counties did not respond to the survey as a whole, disclosing only their pay rate for certain positions, while not reporting on others.
She said she would change the methodology of the survey if the Court instructed her to. The Commissioners did not, however, make any move to instruct Kortan to alter the setup of the salary survey.
County salaries will continue to be discussed throughout the budget process, and updated numbers will likely be presented during the Court’s next meeting, on Aug. 14.
In other business, the Commissioners agreed to offer a settlement of $15,475.50 to the City of Lockhart to complete claims for EMS service provided to the Caldwell County Jail prior to June 8, 2012. According to the agreement and the included contract addendum, the City of Lockhart EMS will provide services to the Caldwell County Jail at existing Medicare rates.
In brief news, the Commissioners approved changes to the Caldwell County Development Ordinance to increase fees for property owners who develop properties without obtaining the correct permits and approvals prior to construction.
River-area residents came forward to ask the Commissioners to consider enhancing law enforcement on the San Marcos River, as a result of increased tubing traffic because of legal changes on the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers.
The County paid bills in the amount of $494,462.20.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court routinely meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the training and conference room at the LW Scott Annex, 1430 Blackjack St., in Lockhart. The meetings are open to the public and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend and participate.