County proposes tax increase, pay raises
By LPR Staff
A jump in tax rates will help Caldwell County to fund a 5-percent raise for county employees in the next budget year, County Judge H.T. Wright announced during the regular meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners Court on Monday.
The pay raise, the largest Caldwell County has been able to finance in recent years, has
been noted to be a priority for all Commissioners throughout the last year, but was still the topic of some heavy debate on Monday.
Early in the budget process, Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law requested that a 5-percent increase be added to his payroll budget that he could allocate as would best benefit his department, rather than the across-the-board increase that would be granted to other County employees. Although Wright and County Auditor Sonny Rougeou prepared a draft budget to comply with Law’s request, the proposal drew fire from some other commissioners.
“He says he has to adjust pay at the low end so he stops training and losing employees,” said Commissioner Tom Bonn. “But in granting this raise, I would hate to see him allocate where the low guys are only getting two or three percent on their salary, while the higher-paid people are getting six or seven percent. I’d rather see something done across the board.”
Commissioner Neto Madrigal disagreed, stating his position that each department head is aware of how best to run their department, and suggesting the Court has to trust the judgment of the County’s department heads.
Other department heads expressed resistance to the idea as well, suggesting that allowing one department to have that level of control over their own payroll budget would create animosity and disparity between other employees.
Ultimately, the Commissioners agreed to bring the idea back for a vote another day, after more research can be done, and each Commissioner given more time to think.
In other budget business, the Commissioners announced that all elected county officials, with the exception of the sheriff, had been worked into the budget receiving the five-percent pay increase. Law’s salary might be calculated differently, Wright said, because of a request made regarding his travel allowance and the use of his personal vehicle.
In addition, they announced a total tax rate of .6837 per $100 of valuation for the coming budget year. Last year’s total tax rate was .6437 per $100. The increase marks approximately a 6.2-percent increase, according to Rougeau, and is very near the County’s rollback rate of .6838.
The Commissioners Court will hold public hearings regarding the budget and tax rate on Sept. 10 and Sept. 17.
In brief news:
The Commissioners opted not to reinstate an outdoor burning ban.
They decided not to increase fees charged by the Caldwell County Sheriff’s office and Constables for the service of civil process.
The Court continues to discuss and research the possibility of enacting a gun-control ordinance in the county.
The County paid bills in the amount of $132,793.51.
The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse. Meetings begin promptly at 9 a.m.