The Comal County Commissioners Court approved an 8% pay increase for all Comal County employees effective Sept. 3. An in-house analysis shows Comal County was paying much lower than market demand, leading it with trouble filling open positions.

Several elected officials and department heads expressed concern over unfilled positions within departments during the county's recent budget workshops. The in-house analysis also shows the majority of surrounding cities and counties are offering more competitive wages.

"We can't hire people at the wages we're offering," Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Webb said. "For 2022, we'll end up with about $5 million in salary savings from positions we couldn't fill. The proposal is to put those savings into current employee salaries."

The Commissioners Court voted to increase salary wages for all positions, filled and unfilled, by 8% in an attempt to attract and retain employees. According to Comal County, the wage increase does not apply to elected officials.

Comal County Sheriff Mark Reynolds said he has more than 70 unfilled positions at the sheriff’s office and county jail.

"We're already seeing the merit of the wage increase," Reynolds said. "Several employees were applying for work elsewhere for higher pay but have now withdrawn those applications. I'm thankful to the judge and commissioners for adopting a wage increase that makes us competitive."

The county's road department has also had trouble filling 24 open positions. The Criminal District Attorney's Office has another 10 open positions that have not been filled for months.

Webb said he plans to propose the same 8% pay increase in the 2023 budget.

"The increase, combined with what County Judge Sherman Krause has proposed in the 2023 budget, should put Comal County in place to hire and retain the people needed to get the county's business done in a way we can be proud of."