Pay Raises And The Budget Officer Issue Still Lingers

Posted in Commissioners Court, County Attorney, The Budget, Williamson County at 12:34 pm by wcnews

The TDP and RRL both have articles on the pay raise discussion at Tuesday’s Williamson County Commissioners Court (WCCC) meeting. It appears a raise will be given, they’re just trying to hash-out the details. From the TDP:

The raises will likely cost between $3.87 million on the high end and $3.45 million on the low end.

The increased salaries also apply to the county’s highest ranking officials, including elected officials, department heads and a few senior managers, though the majority of the budget increase, 72 percent, is allocated to lower-income employees, [Human Resources Director John] Willingham said.


The proposed raises presented came in three tiers. The lower two scaled back pay raises by .5 percent each step, with differences in budget impact of about $200,000. The top raise would give a 5 percent increase to salary employees, elected officials and department heads, 3.5 percent to tenured employees, generally law enforcement officials, and 3 percent to non-tenured employees, who make up the largest portion of the workforce and earn the lowest amounts of pay.

The next step down lowers the raise of non-tenured to 2.5 percent and annual employees to 4.5 percent. The lowest cost scenario would lower tenured employees’ raises to 3 percent, annual employees to 4 percent and keep non-tenured worker’s raise level at 2.5 percent.

Each of those possible raises marks the highest possible raise for that pay grade.

All in the name of staying competitive and, of course, making up for soaring energy and food costs for county workers over the last year. While most of the rank and file workers need a raise, it’s not clear that’s the case for the elected officials. More from the RRL:

For the current fiscal year, county government operates with a $176 million budget, funded by a tax rate of 48.8 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

Ashlie Koenig - the county’s assistant budget manager - said about 75 percent of that $176 million budget goes for salaries and benefits.

With that in mind, County Judge Dan Gattis [who’s also the budget manager] said it’s hard to do much budget cutting without cutting staff.

“We’re a personnel operation - that’s what we are,” Gattis said. “You can tweak this budget here and tweak it there, but it’s hard to make up any ground.”

Gattis is essentially saying that the only way to save money is to cut employees. But, obviously, they could save money money (up to $3.87 million) by not giving out raises. I’m not saying they should mind you. What was not mentioned in either article, but left for the reader to assume, is that there is money in the budget to cover the raises. With the county’s fuel expenses soaring, which the WCCC recently had to deal with, keeping pay raises targeted to those that need it the most would wise.

One last thing. Some in Williamson County may be wondering exactly what kind of change Democrats will bring to the county if elected. One very big change will be to follow the law. Texas Attorney General (AG) Greg Abbott issued an opinion in November 2007 regarding who can, and cannot, be the budget officer in Williamson County. When asked for an opinion by the County Attorney Jana Duty, Regarding the budget officer opinion, Gattis said he has asked Duty’s office to better explain the opinion to commissioners. From there, he said the court could possibly appoint the county’s current budget analyst, Ashlie Koenig, as budget officer.AG Greg Abbott’s opinion stated, unequivocally, that the County Judge - currently Dan Gattis, Sr. - could no longer act as the County Budget Officer (CBO). Back in February Gattis said this, regarding their inactivity to name a CBO:

Regarding the budget officer opinion, Gattis said he has asked Duty’s office to better explain the opinion to commissioners. From there, he said the court could possibly appoint the county’s current budget analyst, Ashlie Koenig, as budget officer.

“We’re certainly not trying to ignore the opinion” he said.

There has never been further clarification, that EOW’s found, from the CA and, obviously, a CBO has not been named. Also Gattis, Sr. still continues in that capacity - despite the RRL referring to him as the “budget manager”.

To answer the question further of just how Democrats would change here’s what Democratic candidate for County Attorney Jaime Lynn has to say about it:

The County Attorney purportedly “provid[es] the Williamson County Commissioners Court with access to the best possible legal counsel” and “strives to be the best County Attorney’s office in the State of Texas.” Despite this, the County Attorney continues to fail to ensure that state law is followed regarding who can be the Budget Officer for Williamson County.

Despite the clarity of statutory law and a Texas Attorney General’s opinion, our County Attorney has chosen not to adequately advise our County Commissioners so that they can comply with the law.

One of the changes Democrats will bring back to Williamson County is accountability, to the people and to the law. Something that’s been sorely lacking during one-party rule in the Williamson County.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » Complaint filed against Williamson County Commissioners Court said,

    June 9, 2009 at 8:46 am

    […] an issue that EOW has posted on serveral times, (Who should be the county budget officer, and Pay Raises And The Budget Officer Issue Still Lingers), that County Judge Dan Gattis, Sr, continues to operate as the County Budget Officer in violation […]

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.