When applying for work, jobseekers generally aren’t aren’t asked about their political, religious, or moral beliefs.
In most cases employers know they can’t ask those sorts of questions under the U.S. Constitution and equal employment opportunity rules. But Williamson County commissioners don’t believe those rules applied when they appointed a new constable.
After Williamson County Precinct 3 Constable Bobby Gutierrez retired, commissioners had to appoint a new constable. They interviewed five candidates. And the questions they asked those candidates during the interviews raised eyebrows.
“Was I for gay marriage or against gay marriage?” former candidate Robert Lloyd said he was asked. “The next question was, what was my thoughts on abortion? Was I pro-life or pro-choice?”
“I knew the question was coming about church because in the realm of the questions that were being asked,” Lloyd continued.
Lloyd has more than 27 years of law enforcement experience. He was one of five candidates interviewed for the constable post which pays a taxpayer funded salary of $71,785 a year.
Other candidates have also confirmed to KXAN they were asked about their religion, their stance on abortion and their views on gay marriage. But the Williamson County Commissioners don’t see anything wrong with it.
“In general, this is a process that is different than a normal employment interview, because it is an elected position,” said County Commissioner Valerie Covey.
The decision on who got the job was made solely by the four commissioners and County Judge Dan Gattis.
Critics say the law is clear: Questions about religion, abortion, and gay marriage during job interviews are off limits.
“There’s no semantical dance out of this one,” said Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project. “You can’t ask religious questions. You can’t ask associational questions. The only questions you can ask are job-related, specific questions.”
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is clear and so is the Texas Constitution.
And the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the EEOC rulesstate “An employer may not base hiring decisions on stereotypes and assumptions about a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or genetic information.”
“We’ve crossed this bridge decades and decades ago, you know, that we don’t do this type of discrimination,” said Harrington. “This is really gross malfeasance with respect to the taxpayers money.”
“They don’t understand why they were asked, how it pertained to the job at all. They’re not happy about it,” said former constable candidate Barry Simmons.
Simmons has nearly three decades of law enforcement experience, including many years in the Precinct 3 Constables Office. In the last election he received more than 48 percent of the primary vote. But he didn’t get an interview when the commissioners were seeking a replacement for Gutierrez. Simmons says he plans to run again in the next election.
After asking about gay marriage, abortion and religion, commissioners unanimously appointed Kevin Stofle, a former assistant chief with the Georgetown Police Department.
Stofle does have decades of law enforcement experience, but he also has family ties to the commissioners court. His brother-in-law, Hal Hawes is the commissioners’ attorney. Hawes’ wife is still registered as the creator of the website www.kevinstofle.com.
But Commissioner Covey says that had nothing to do with the decision to appoint Stofle.
“Mr. Hawes was not involved in the process at all,” said Covey.
“We made several attempts to contact all Williamson County Commissioners to find out how questions on gay marriage, abortion, and religion could possibly have anything to do law enforcement experience and qualifications for being a constable. All but Valerie Covery said they were too busy to go on camera. But a couple of them did weigh in via emails.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long said the constable was appointed through a statutory process
that is political by nature. And she said that because the constable is normally an elected position, to not include those types of questions would have been naive.
Judge Dan Gattis said in an email that a variety of questions were asked that were relevant to someone being appointed as an elected official.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman said she was in meetings and a workshop for the week and too busy to respond.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison and Constable Stofle did not return calls or emails.
Don’t we take issue with foreign governments do stuff like this? It’s as if the commissioners think that since a member of the GOP resigned they must find one for the job. And therefore party platform type questions are warranted. But they’re not. If candidates were excluded because of their answers to those questions, and not their qualifications for the job – and there may be no way to get the truth about that, since the decision was made in “executive session” – then that’s against the law.
A couple of points are easy to see. This is not being denied, so it happened, and they don’t seem to mind that they violated the constitution or employment law. It’s looks bad that almost all of them don’t want to talk about it. And they don’t think they did anything wrong. Also, obviously constables do not legislate and will never have to vote on matters of marriage, abortion, or religion. A constable is a “public servant”. A servant of all the people and not a servant of the “right” kind of people.
But this is the same old story that’s been going on in Williamson County for some time. When everyone in the county government is of the same religion party, it makes it very insular and secretive. It certainly looks like they wanted to hire someone who was very much like them – not an outsider. And the only way to do that was to ask those kinds of questions. Not to mention the questions of conflict of interest.
This is the kind of government the voters of Williamson County continue to support on election day. It’s frustrating as hell, but it will continue until more people who believe a government like this is wrong start showing up to vote and elect some different people.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court (WCCC) is beginning their discussion of next year’s budget. The big issues are, as always, stting the county property tax rate, county employee salaries and benefits, and more spending for a rapidly growing county. Via the RRL, County starting budget process.
Williamson County’s plans for a potential November bond election won’t affect this year’s budgeting process – which is now starting – Budget Officer Ashlie Blaylock said this week.
However, an ongoing salary and compensation study could figure into the equation, with county officials potentially granting raises based on the outcome.
For the current year, salaries and benefits account for about 63 percent of the general fund. Also included in that is raises the Commissioners Court approved last summer: $2.1 million for non-law enforcement personnel and $56,759 (3-percent raises) for the county’s 19 elected officials.
Additionally, $18.6 million went to the road-and-bridge maintenance fund.
The final budget component is the $68.2 million currently dedicated for debt service. That consists of payments made on large construction projects – such as roads and buildings – that have usually been approved by voters during bond elections.
The current budget is funded by a tax rate of 48.9 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The “average” homeowner – one who has a home with a taxable value of $180,870 – paid $891 in county taxes for the current year.
As always, population growth will remain a driving factor in the budget process, county officials say.
EMS Director Kenny Schnell told commissioners last August: “We’ve seen a 50-perent increase in call volume during the last 10 to 12 years.”
The county’s population almost doubled during that same time frame.
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, Williamson County’s population increased from about 250,000 to approximately 422,000, between 2000 and 2010.
According to the most-recent Census figures available, the county’s 2012 population was estimated at more than 456,000.
Because of that growth, last year commissioners approved hiring three new 911 dispatchers and three new EMS paramedics.
“We’ll probably have to add more EMS [personnel] next year, too,” County Judge Dan Gattis predicted last summer.
Also tomorrow, April 10th, is the first meeting of the county Bond Committee. They are tasked with coming up with a proposal for the WCCC, that can be on the ballot in November.
The first public meeting of the committee will be held on Wednesday, April 10, 6 p.m., at the historic Williamson County Courthouse, 710 S. Main Street, Georgetown, in the Commissioners Courtroom. To view the agenda, click here.
This is your money, so pay attention. Their certainly are some needs around the county, especially one that’s growing as fast as Williamson. Interest rates are still very low, and it’s a good time to borrow, but we still must make sure that it’s for needed items and not frivolous give-aways to politically connected contractors.
The commissioners court appointed nine committee members to propose and November bond election, County appoints bond-study committee.
Casting an eye toward growth, and the infrastructure challenges it brings, the Williamson County Commissioners Court on Tuesday appointed a nine-member bond study committee.
The committee, to be led by Round Rock bank executive Landy Warren, is charged with making big-ticket spending recommendations, especially those relating to roads and parks countywide.
The committee is to host a series of meetings, in all four county precincts, gleaning information from private citizens as well as elected officials and city managers. Commissioners anticipate receiving recommendations in late summer and then calling a November bond election.
Each of the four commissioners made two appointments to the committee and Gattis appointed Warren – an R Bank executive – as its chairman.
“It’s well known people are moving here from throughout Texas, people are moving here from throughout the United States, people are moving here from throughout the world,” Warren told commissioners. “We couldn’t stop it if we wanted to. A responsible bond package is needed from time to time.”
Other bond committee members are as follows:
• Will Peckham of Round Rock, chief executive officer for Round Rock Travel and Tours
• Donna Parker of Round Rock, certified financial planner
• Cobby Caputo of Cedar Park, attorney
• Steve Berry of Leander, owner of two Christian Brothers Automotive locations
• Dr. Robert Glandt of Georgetown, retired dentist
• Hugh Brown of Georgetown, chief executive officer for St. David’s Georgetown Hospital
• Mario Perez of Hutto, owner of Mario’s Mexican Restaurant
• Keith Hagler of Taylor, owner of several businesses in Taylor
Most are extremely reliable GOP voters and members of the “bidness” community in Williamson County. It would surely be nice to have a few regular ‘ol folk on the committee. A few common sense people would certainly be nice. You can read more about them here, bios submitted to the commissioners.
Also the commissioners appointed a new Constable for Precinct 3 to replace the recently retired Bobby Gutierrez.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners welcomed Kevin Stofle as the new Pct. 3 constable. Stofle was formerly Georgetown’s assistant police chief. He replaces Bobby Gutierrez, who had served since 1998.
Gutierrez’ retirement became official Monday and Stofle was sworn in at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in public service and to serve the citizens of Williamson County,” Stofle told commissioners.
Businesses are often allied with Perry, a failed contender for last year’s Republican presidential nomination. The chambers, however, argue Texas shouldn’t pass up $100 billion over the next decade to cover 1.5 million adults. Obama’s plan would pay all costs until 2016, then the state’s share would gradually increase to 10 percent in 2020. Perry says that’s too expensive.
“This may be the only time that we have taken an actual formal position that is opposite that of the governor,” said Richard Dayoub, chief executive officer of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t know of any issue that has created so much concern across the state and has amassed so much support across party lines and throughout the business sector.”
Chambers supporting expansion in Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Arlington include members ranging from publicly traded companies to small shoe stores and family restaurants, many of them strained by health costs.
With so many uninsured in Texas this seems to many business and corporate Republicans as a no brainer.
About 29 percent of Texas citizens lack insurance, according to a March 8 poll by Gallup Inc. The state ranked 40th in health last year because 30 percent of residents are obese and one of every four children lives in poverty, according to United Health Foundation, affiliated with UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH).
Hospitals have urged expansion because it will reduce expensive and ineffective emergency-room visits, said Stephen Mansfield, chief executive of Methodist Health System in Dallas and next year’s chairman of the 2,100-member Dallas Regional Chamber.
“The eight other Republican governors were just as opposed to this initially as Rick Perry,” said Mansfield, who met with him in February. “They came to understand the economics.”
Chamber lobbyists from Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio have discussed Medicaid with legislators during the current session in Austin, officials said. Dayoub of the El Paso chamber spoke with Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, both Republicans, and about 35 legislators of both parties.
Business groups “are looking short term,” said Republican Senator David Duell, a Greenville physician who met with chamber representatives. He said he doubted the Obama administration’s commitment “with the long-term viability of the federal government in question.”
Such opposition is “idiocy,” said Margaret Jordan, a former Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas director who is president of Dallas Medical Resources, a consortium of hospital executives and businesspeople headed by billionaire oilman Ray Hunt. “Medicaid expansion is a win-win for everybody.”
Refusing to expand Medicaid could cost Texas employers as much as $448 million in fines because the 2010 law penalizes some companies when workers can’t obtain affordable coverage, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. said in a March 13 report.
Perry and other opponents will compromise because of pressure from hospitals and businesses, Trevor Fetter, chief executive officer of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Inc. (THC), said in an interview Feb. 27. Tenet is the third-largest U.S. hospital firm.
“There isn’t a scenario I can envision that is worse than the status quo in Texas,” Fetter said.
The problem for the “bidness” community in Texas is that Perry is no longer accountable to them. He’s now controlled by his ego and adherence to extreme ideology. But they only have themselves to blame. They created this monster and have allowed it to grow beyond their control. And now that something they want and need is not ideological pure to the politicians they’ve been bankrolling, they’re unable to turn the screws.
The influence of business on Texas Republicans is modest compared with that of evangelicals and Tea Party-affiliated groups, said Mark Jones, who teaches politics at Houston’s Rice University.
“The Republican base views Obamacare as a matter of principle, while the monied interests view it as a dollars and cents issue,” Jones said.
And it doesn’t look like anything anyone says, not matter how logical and sound it may be, can change their mind. That kind of argument doesn’t work on ideology.
Duncan, however, says Texas can’t afford the deal because Medicaid crowds out spending for education, parks and other priorities.
“It’s not a free lunch,” Duncan said. He said he was unconvinced by studies by former deputy State Comptroller Billy Hamilton and Waco economist Ray Perryman suggesting expansion would boost the state’s economy by increasing business activity and productivity.
It was inevitable. The GOP in Texas has gotten so extreme over the last several years that they can no longer be worked with. They have their agenda and that’s it. It’s sad and funny all at the same time. The business community is now reaping what it sowed.
What this article shows is that there are many who support the Texas GOP financially that are for expanding Medicaid. The only one in a position of power that’s likely for Medicaid expansion is Speaker Joe Straus, but he won’t really say it out loud. As stated before, if the far right in Texas won’t go for the greed argument it’s hard to see anything that can trump their ideology.
County commissioners approved the countywide polling place program at their Feb. 19 meeting, and an application was sent to the state Feb. 27. As of press time March 8, the county was awaiting final approval from the Texas secretary of state’s office.
County Elections Administrator Rick Barron said vote centers could help with voter convenience and reduce the number of election workers, provisional ballots and expenses. The program would not remove voting centers from rural areas.
“It’s an efficient way to conduct voting now,” Barron said. “People can vote where it’s convenient for them.”
The transition to vote centers also means a change to only electronic voting, Barron said.
In past elections, Williamson County had almost entirely switched to only electronic voting with a few precincts offering paper ballots, he said.
Barron said he anticipates more people voting early at the new centers, which could help reduce wait times for election day voting.
“Some people would hold out until election day because they wanted to vote on a paper ballot,” he said, “So we may have an increase in early voting.”
Paper mail-in ballots would still be available for voters 65 and older, disabled individuals and those traveling outside the U.S. during early voting and on election day.
In the November 2012 election, approximately 75 percent of voters used electronic voting machines—65 percent during early voting and 10 percent on election day, Barron said.
Concerns over the accuracy of electronic voting were raised during two public hearings hosted by the Commissioners Court; however, Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said the county has not had accuracy issues with electronic voting in the past.
“If we have an issue with the accuracy of the vote, we have a problem already,” Covey said.
Barron said the county’s electronic voting machines are equipped with three independent memory sources that allow election officials to tally the votes two other ways if one part of the machine fails.
“Electronic voting is the safest and most accurate way to vote,” he said, adding that the machines help streamline tallying votes. “There is a misconception that we don’t have a paper trail.”
Despite all that there are still concerns.
Leander resident Karen Carter, who also serves as the Williamson County Democratic Party chairwoman, said she is not convinced vote centers will be convenient because of the reduced number of voting locations.
Carter, who said she was speaking as a voter and not a representative of the Democratic Party, also served on the county’s vote center committee and said she hopes to ensure people in lower-income areas and with transportation issues would not be disenfranchised as the number of polling places are reduced.
Bill Fairbrother, Williamson County Republican Party chairman who also served on the committee, said he thought the program showed promise.
I think the vote centers are a good addition. I would like to hear an exact explanation of the paper trail that Barron refers to above. And certainly this only needs to make it easier for everyone to vote, and not make if harder for anyone to vote. I assume this still, at least for now, has to be precleared by the Department of Justice, since it is a voting change.
Texas has an extraordinary opportunity to expand health care coverage that would benefit up to 2 million of its citizens. The federal government would pay about $100 billion toward this expansion over 10 years, with the state responsible for only about $15 billion under a moderate enrollment scenario.
Extending Medicaid to low-income adults certainly would benefit the newly eligible. It also would benefit the wider economy and reduce demands on local indigent health programs and hospital charity care.
The amount of state match necessary to extend Medicaid to low-income adults would equal a small fraction of current local government and hospital spending on low-income health care. What’s more, covering low-income adults will result in new local revenue because it will generate good-paying jobs and commerce. So local governments will SAVE on health costs at the same time they are GAINING new sales and property taxes without raising tax rates.
At the same time, more people in every area of Texas would have health insurance, doctors and other health workers would be more fairly compensated for treating low-income folks, and the state could stop spending so much on piecemeal programs that only treat some health problems. People with health insurance will live longer and be healthier–and the many low-income adults in Texas who are parents will be able to take better care of their kids, too.
It’s not hard to see from that how insuring so many who are currently uninsured will have an extremely positive impact at the local level. A healthier population, less emergency room visits, and less expenditure on the uninsured. Just another reason why this makes sense and will lower costs that are paid by local property tax payers.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court discussed the possibility of calling for a voter-approved bond election during a Feb. 12 meeting.
The commissioners were going to meet with city leaders in their precincts to discuss what major projects and priorities should be considered for the potential bond election.
“It is my personal feeling that we need to explore … the possibilities of moving forward with a bond issue for the county, which would be for roads, bridges, parks and the possibility of even facilities,” County Judge Dan Gattis said.
The last time the county called for a bond election was in 2006 in the amount of $250 million.
Gattis said he was going to put an action item on the agenda for the next meeting—Feb. 19—for commissioners to vote on whether to form a bond committee, which would make contact with the county’s cities about prioritizing the projects a bond issue would cover.
Projects the county is looking at include parks and roads, Gattis said.
“We’ve got master plans on parkland that we bought with the last bond issue … and we’ll need bond money now to build those parks out and make them accessible to the public,” he said. “All of that needs to be followed through with.”
He said he could not name specific road projects yet but that the court is interested in seeking funding for improvements to north-south and east-west traffic flow and to get the cities to work together and with the county on those projects.
“There’s a lot to do in this county,” Gattis said. “The way we’re growing, there’s plenty to do. The question is, ‘What can we afford? What does the public want us to get done?’”
If commissioners moved forward with seeking the bond election, they said they hoped to have the members of the bond committee appointed by the court’s March 5 meeting to give that committee as much time as possible to get any propositions ready in time for the November general election.
Gattis’ right wing won’t be happy with this. But now is a great time to borrow, with interest rates so low. And with Williamson County’s rapid growth there are likely plenty of needed projects to spend the money on. More than likely, this has more to do with keeping the local contractors/donors working, then anything else.
Williamson County may switch to voting centers that would allow voters to cast ballots at any polling place in the county, rather than at precinct-specific locations.
About 60 percent of voters in the county already cast their ballots electronically at such centers during early voting. The centers are not precinct specific, County Elections Administrator Rick Barron said.
The possible switch for election day voting would essentially do away with paper ballots, causing some concerned residents to speak up Tuesday at a commissioners meeting. Some also questioned how the new system would affect rural voters’ access to the polls.
Barron told commissioners voting centers are easier for the public and that electronic voting is actually more accurate and secure. He that said in the November election, 107 voters showed up at the wrong polling place and had to cast provisional ballots.
The benefits of voting centers include needing fewer election workers, making it easier to fill bilingual worker slots and cutting down on election-related expenses. Barron said purchasing printers for the voting centers would cost about $800 to $1,000 each.
As for cutting the number of polling locations in rural areas, officials said that won’t happen. Any reductions would be in urban areas, they said.
Several people at the meeting voiced concerns about the possibility of voter fraud if the county moved to all-electronic voting.
“We have a paper trail,” Barron said. “We can print out every ballot face if needed for a recount. It’s a misconception that we don’t have one.”
Karen Carter, Williamson County Democratic Party chairwoman, said her party had not discussed the issue, but she said she has concerns.
“I still have not become convinced that any election is totally safe without a reliable paper trail,” Carter said. “In the event that a recount is done, you should be able to get the information verified by a system that is independent of the voting machine itself, and right now we do not have that ability.”
Bill Fairbrother, Williamson County Republican Party chairman, said he thought the program showed a lot of promise.
“The key question is, ‘Are our voters ready to accept all-electronic [ballots]?’” he said.
He pointed out that more than half of the county’s voters already cast their ballots electronically during early voting but that now is the time to get feedback from the rest of the voters and to continue to explore possible problems and pitfalls.
Paper ballots are used less and less each election cycle, and the all-electric voting hurdle will be easier to overcome as time goes by. And early voting has been all electronic in Williamson County for several cycles now. As far as security and a paper trail, the concerns are valid. I’ve always thought that if the ATM can give you a receipt, so can a voting machine.
Vote centers make sense for Williamson County especially along the more urban southern county line. As people that work in Austin head back north from work, they could easily stop at vote centers on their way home and vote in a more convenient location. Any discussion of modernizing how we vote is worthy discussion to have.
Although it was by the slimmest of margins the county did raise the tax rate in next year’s budget. Since the state keeps shifting more and more of the burden to local taxpayers this is not surprising.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court on Tuesday adopted a $216 million budget, funded by a tax rate of 48.9 cents per $100 valuation. For the year ahead the average homeowner’s county tax bill increased by $2.87, officials said.
Following a lengthy and sometimes contentious summertime process, commissioners on Tuesday unanimously adopted a $210,929,795 budget, to be funded by a 2011-12 tax rate of 48.8 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
If Perry and the GOP regressives continue with their plan to not implement the ACA, local taxes will get much higher in the near future. It’s also doubtful Williamson County, with it’s current court make up, would join with counties around the state that are going to go around Perry and the regressives.
The budget, it can be argued, is still too bare bones. In a fast growing county like Williamson it’s probably best to prepare for the future, instead of constantly playing catch up.
The budget – which takes effect Oct. 1, at the start of the county’s new fiscal year – includes the hiring of three new 911 dispatchers, three new EMS paramedics and employee merit raises of up to 5 percent.
“We’ve seen a 50-percent increase in call volume in the last 10 to 12 years,” EMS Director Kenny Schnell stated, noting the county’s population has just about doubled during that same time period.
“We’ll probably have to add more EMS [personnel] next year, too,” Gattis said.
In addition to the three 911 dispatchers and three paramedics, commissioners also approved three other new hires for fiscal 2012-13, at a total cost of $650,000, Budget Officer Ashlie Blaylock said.
The budget commissioners approved Tuesday is about $5 million more than the budget for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
$2 million set aside for raises
The new budget consists of approximately $129.3 million in general fund (day-to-day operating cost) expenses, plus $18.6 million for the road and bridge fund as well as $68.2 million for debt service. The latter consists of payments on large construction projects – such as roads and buildings – that have usually been approved by voters during bond elections.
Salaries and benefits account for about 63 percent of the county’s general-fund budget.
Included in the general fund is $56,759 for 3-percent raises to be paid to 19 elected county officials, as well as $2.1 million in merit raises for non-law enforcement personnel.
Raises for law enforcement, fire, first responders, and county employees is needed and will certainly help the county’s economy.
By a 4-0 vote Tuesday the Williamson County Commissioners Court approved 3-percent raises for 19 elected county officials, adding $56,759 to a general fund budget that currently stands at about $126 million.
The vote (with Pct. 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman absent) followed two weeks of discussion and debate concerning what counties Williamson ought to compare itself to when setting salaries for elected officials and employees. Employee salaries for fiscal 2012-13 will be discussed later this month, with budget adoption set for Aug. 28.
Regardless of the comparison group, several elected officials said if they and their peers didn’t get raises for the year ahead, it would mark five consecutive years without salary increases.
“I’m just saying that four years in a row without a raise puts us behind,” County Clerk Nancy Rister told Judge Dan Gattis and the county commissioners Tuesday. “If you keep doing this you’ll get so far behind you’ll never catch up.
“This is not [just] for the elected officials in office now. When that elected official retires and you have other candidates running, you’re not going to get quality candidates. The kind of candidates you’ll get are people you do not want in office. You need experience. You need people with a college degree. You need education and experience.”
District Clerk Lisa David voiced similar concerns, stating she didn’t run for office because of the salary, but “I didn’t realize that would remain my salary for the rest of my time as district clerk.”
Well good for them. But the vote isn’t looking so good for county employees.
When it comes to county salaries, two issues remain – one short-term and the other long.
For the immediate future – and with the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1 ¬- commissioners must soon decide if they are going to grant employee raises this year. The county has about 1,600 full-time employees.
The current 2011-12 county budget contains about $900,000 in raises. That total consists of 1.5 percent across-the-board salary increases for civilian employees, plus 2.5-percent raises for the county’s approximately 500 jail and sheriff’s office employees.
For fiscal 2011-12 county department heads received 1-percent raises and appointed (as opposed to hired or elected) leaders got raises of 1.5 percent.
Zirkle said she recommended 3 percent raises for elected officials last year, but commissioners nixed the idea.
Blaylock said no employees raises will be included in her proposed budget for 2012-13, which she’s scheduled to present to commissioners Aug. 7.
In March, commissioners instructed Blaylock to bring them a balanced budget without raising taxes.
“There’s no way I could do that and give any cost-of-living or merit raises,” Blaylock said Tuesday.
But that doesn’t mean the issue is settled.
Budgets are moral documents, and the commissioners have certainly seen fit to take care of themselves first.