Travis County commissioners to begin process of implementing market-rate raises for elected officials

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Updated Thursday, July 11, at 5:10 p.m. to clarify that commissioners voted to begin the process of formally recommending market-rate raises for elected officials

Travis County commissioners voted 4-1 to begin the process of implementing market-rate raises for elected officials in fiscal year 2019-20 at a meeting July 9.

The raises—which range from up to $6,544 for some constables to $36,400 for court-at-law judges who have been in their position for more than 12 years and include $32,209 for county commissioners—were recommended by the county’s human resources department and based on a market salary study.

In addition to the study, state lawmakers passed legislation during the 86th legislative session that dictates pay for certain elected officials, including district judges, county court-at-law judges and probate judges.

Last year, commissioners voted to bring certain salaries up to market rate in adherence to this study over three years. The county’s FY 2018-19 budget included one-third of the market-rate raises for those affected positions, with a plan to incorporate the second and third portions of the raises in FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21, respectively.

In light of the recently passed property tax revenue cap and in anticipation for the upcoming FY 2019-20 budget cycle, commissioners have discussed bringing those salaries up to market rate in the coming budget cycle, rather than waiting a third year.

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who represents Precinct 3, opposed the motion to begin the process for completing these market-rate raises for elected officials.

“The formula [should be]whatever the Commissioners Court gives the rank-and-file, that’s what elected officials get,” Daugherty said July 2. “And if they don’t like that, then they needn’t run for office.”

Following a statutorily mandated process that includes running an advertisement in a local paper and holding a public hearing, commissioners are scheduled to set the salaries July 30 and adopt the budget for FY 2019-20 on  Sept. 24.

Other compensation news

The Travis County Compensation Committee submitted its recommendations for FY 2019-20 in a July 24 memo to members of the Commissioners Court.

The committee is composed of county employees appointed by commissioners.

Its members voted 9-1, with one abstention, to recommend commissioners “give highest priority to fully funding” the results of the market salary study.

For any remaining funds, members recommended providing across-the-board raises for county employees, prioritizing those positions not affected by the market salary study.

If both of these priorities are achieved, the committee voted 11-0, with two abstentions, to raise the Travis County minimum wage from $13 per hour to $15 per hour.

“We recognize that approving a budget is a complex endeavor, and that there are a number of competing priorities which must be balanced,” committee members wrote in the aforementioned memo. “Your co-workers in Travis County are grateful to the Court for prioritizing compensation in this budget process, and this Committee looks forward to continuing to partner with you and with Travis County HR in future initiatives.”

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    • Thanks for reading! Commissioners cannot officially set the salary raises and account for them in the coming budget until a mandated public hearing has been held. Any resident is able to speak on the topic, should he or she have concerns.

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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