Raise talks continue: Commissioners Wright, Moses want to see 6 percent increase for county employees
By Miles Smith
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 to discuss the 2018-19 budget before it’s passed later this month.
Specifically in question are employees’ salaries for the coming year. A pay raise of 3.8 percent for all employees was originally proposed during the drafting of the preliminary budget to help offset smaller paychecks that would result when the county switches to 26 pay periods from 24 pay periods in October.
But after Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Lane and District Clerk Tina Morgan Freeman stressed that employees would be an average of $100 short per month until May, when they’ll receive three paychecks, commissioners ordered county staffers to provide them with the cost of scenarios such as giving employees a 6 percent raise or giving them a one-time bonus in October or November.
Employees will see a three paycheck month in November, but will receive only one paycheck in November.
Staffers’ findings will be presented to commissioners in open court on Sept. 20. Commissioners in open court on Sept. 10 originally scheduled the meeting for Monday, Sept. 17, but chose Thursday due to scheduling conflicts.
At Monday’s regular meeting, Commissioners Terry Wright and Eddie Moses each said they were in support of giving employees a much larger raise than originally proposed in the preliminary budget.
This came after Lane took the podium to tell commissioners he wanted to see a higher pay rate to help the county retain its best employees. Lane cited the City of Lockhart’s recent decision to give police officers a 10 percent raise in its upcoming budget, and said he’d like to see county employees get an 8 percent raise across the board.
That number, he said, was what it would take to make their paychecks the same size as the ones they are currently receiving twice a month.
“In the exit interviews I do, it’s about pay,” Lane said of the reasons his staff has cited for why it’s gone to work for other communities. “A lot of folks feel the commissioners do not care about the employees. I do my best to tell them that’s not the case.”
Lane suggested a 6 percent raise for county employees “to get their paychecks to within $20-40 of what they’re currently seeing.”
Wright and Moses agreed with the deputy chief. At a previous meeting, commissioners voted on a 3.8 percent raise for elected officials and would be excluded from any additional raises granted for the coming fiscal year.
“I’d like to see a bigger raise myself,” Moses said. “Right now everybody is going to see less money on payday. Everybody.”
“We need to have a one-time bonus and we need to get raises as close to 6 percent as possible,” he said.
Commissioner Ed Theriot said he believed 3.8 percent was a generous raise, but said he wouldn’t be opposed to giving employees a bonus split up into one or two checks to help them catch up.
The current proposed budget will raise more total property taxes from last year’s budget by almost $1.25 million, or 9.31 percent, and of that amount $373,591 is tax revenue from new properties being added to the roll.
Earlier in Monday’s regular meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a tax rate of .7753 cents per $100 valuation. The effective 2017-18 tax rate is .7211 cents per $100 valuation.