Travis County commissioners greenlight market-rate raises for elected officials

Travis County commissioners finalized an implementation plan to bring elected officials' salaries up to market rate at a meeting July 30.

Travis County commissioners finalized an implementation plan to bring elected officials' salaries up to market rate at a meeting July 30.

Travis County commissioners voted 4-1 to implement market-rate raises for elected officials over the next two years, completing a process that began in fiscal year 2018-19.

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

“With this particular increase, it is based on [the] market,” Human Resources Director Tracy Calloway said at a July 30 meeting of the Commissioners Court.

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who represents Precinct 3, opposed the motion, calling the raises “very, very arbitrary” and not aligned with the court’s efforts to “[get] our house in order” before the state-mandated property tax revenue cap takes effect in October 2020.

“I just think it is embarrassing for us to do this,” Daugherty said.

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 in fiscal years 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively.

Following the passing of a property tax revenue cap during the most recent legislative session, commissioners considered bringing those salaries up to market rate in the FY 2019-20 budget cycle, rather than in portions through FY 2020-21.

However, during the vote, commissioners reversed course and chose to implement the raises over three total years, rather than according to the abbreviated two-year schedule.

“I think we all agree that [these raises are] an important thing to do for our employees,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Brigid Shea, who made the motion to update the disbursement schedule.

If the county does not pay market-level salaries for its positions, it is at risk of losing employees who seek higher salaries elsewhere, Shea said.

Earlier this month, commissioners voted to begin the statutorily mandated process of implementing these raises in full, which included running an advertisement in a local paper and holding a public hearing.

No one spoke at the public hearing July 30.

Elected officials who are dissatisfied with their salaries have until Aug. 6 to file a grievance with the county judge’s office.

Any elected official may request that his or her salary be set at a level below this maximum authorization.
By 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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