Austin Local News
(UPDATED) Travis County Leaders Vote for Sizable Pay Raises
Updated: 3:34 PM
Travis County commissioner Gerald Daugherty is standing firm in opposition to giving sizable pay raises to every member of the commissioners court. Daugherty says it's an insult to other county employees who won't see raises anywhere close to the proposed $32,000 increase.
Daugherty said a recent market salary survey is being used as a justification for the increase. Recommendations are based on the average annual salary of county commissioners across the State of Texas.
If the increases are approved, commissioner salaries would jump to nearly $150,000.
The passage of Senate Bill 2 was preceded by many months of dire warnings from cities and counties all over Texas. SB2, which places a 3.5-percent limit on property tax growth without a public vote, was signed into law earlier this year by Governor Greg Abbott. At the time, both the City of Austin and Travis County spoke out strongly against the new law with predictions of a major financial crisis.
"Not even being able to afford to contnue to provide the basic services that we have now," said Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea in late-May.
But fast-forward less than two months, and the Travis County Commissioners Court has decided that amid all of the concern over property tax revenue, there's still room to give each member of the court a raise of more than $32,000, or at least commissioners are holding out hope. In order to do that, however, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt is calling on other county departments to chip in and help.
"Look for ways that we might be able to do a nip and a tuck here and there, because we do know that we are under some unusual constraints," Eckhardt says.
Through a 4-1 vote, the court has now made an official recommendation for the salary increases to be approved in the 2019-2020 fiscal budget. The court's lone republican, Gerald Daugherty, cast the only vote in opposition.
"We do this often, where we spend a lot of money and have no idea where we're going to get it, other than the taxpayers," Daugherty said.
Raises have also been recommended for other elected officials, including constables and judges, ranging between $6500 and $34,000.
If approved, the salary increase will be rolled out incrementally over the next three years.