For the second week in a row, residents voiced their displeasure with the proposed raises for elected officials at the final hearing on the proposed budget before it is to be adopted at a special session of the Rockwall County Commissioners Court Tuesday morning.
Two residents came up to the podium to speak to the Commissioners during the public comment period, and expressed their opposition to the raises being given to the Commissioners, County Judge, Sheriff and others.
This continued the sentiment from last week, when several others did the same at the regularly-scheduled meeting on Sept. 10.
In the proposed budget, County Judge David Sweet would see his salary increase 24.47-percent. The Commissioners would see an increase by 23.44-percent. The County Clerk has a 15.73-percent raise in the projected budget, and the Sheriff would see a 22.94-percent increase in pay, among other elected positions.
At the Sept. 10 meeting, Commissioner Cliff Sevier motioned to alter the budget to drop the raises down to eight-percent for elected officials over the next three years. The motion was seconded by Judge Sweet, but failed to pass the vote at 2-3, with Commissioners Lee Gilbert, Dennis Bailey and David Magness voting against.
A resident that came up to speak against the proposed raises brought data from a salary survey performed in 2018 by the Texas Association of Counties. The survey is completed yearly and compares salaries of different counties in the state and divides it up into population to see which counties are competitive.
According to the publicly available data, out of 26 counties in the population range of 50,000 to 99,999, Rockwall county ranks:
— Third in County Judge salary.
— Second in County Treasurer salary.
— First in County Clerk salary.
— Second in Sheriff salary.
— Third in County Commissioner salary.
The data is available online at https://bit.ly/2mgaxMd.
A second resident came forward and blasted the commissioners for voting down the lowered pay increases last week.
“No place do I know where they would give someone a 10 to 25 percent raise in a year,” the resident said. “For the commissioners who voted against the lowered increases, you should be ashamed of yourselves. We are going to be the laughing stock of Texas.”
The Commissioners further discussed the budget, and some potential new revenues for the next fiscal year. A handful of tweaks and changes to the budget forecast would add as much as $105,000 in revenues for the next fiscal year.
The budget as well as the proposed tax rate, set at $0.32 per $100 of property value, is expected to be approved at the Commissioner’s next meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 24, at the Historic Courthouse located at 101 East Rusk Street in Rockwall.