Travis County commissioners consider revisions to peace office pay

Travis County commissioners will receive preliminary estimates for a new peace officer step pay scale at their Jan. 28 meeting. (Courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Office)
Travis County commissioners will receive preliminary estimates for a new peace officer step pay scale at their Jan. 28 meeting. (Courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Office)

Travis County commissioners will receive preliminary estimates for a new peace officer step pay scale at their Jan. 28 meeting. (Courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Office)

Travis County commissioners are considering revisions to the step pay scale for peace officers, which include law enforcement, corrections, constables, investigators, detectives and park rangers.

“I can’t say how important—this is structural change at its core,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion said at a Jan. 14 meeting. “And really building a system rather than a series of transactions.”

The county’s human resources department presented three options for a new step pay scale based on issues identified by stakeholders and market information.

Issues include standardizing the increases between steps, evaluating additional pay for bilingual and field training officers, and managing large salary increases that occur between certain steps.

Commissioners will receive preliminary estimates for the fiscal year 2020-21 budget for pay scale changes at a Jan. 28 meeting, according to a brief prepared by county staff. A finalized pay scale isn't expected to be finalized until the spring.

“There’s probably no perfect way to do this,” Travis County Compensation Manager Todd Osburn told commissioners. “It’s just a matter of picking out which option makes the most sense based upon what we’re trying to achieve.”

In addition to revising the officer pay scale, county staff is working to ensure salaries are commensurate with market rates.

“When we talk about working with our law enforcement associations as well as the final applications of this particular scale, we are starting to do some extensive work with our market salary with these particular positions,” said Tracey Calloway, the director of the county’s human resources management department. “We’ve invited our [peace officer] associations to sit down with us so that we can have those conversations upfront so that we can help navigate a little bit better through these terms.”

Pay increases would be covered, in part, by cost savings in other areas, such as reducing the number of corrections officers.

But County Judge Sarah Eckhardt pointed out funding could be more complicated.

“I want to prepare folks ... for a possibility in the future where we may need to go to the voters on some of these issues with regard to expanding our law enforcement and corrections force or adjustments to our market of our peace officer pay scale,” she said.

Emma Freer


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