Next year's budget for Lubbock County was set in early September at more than $60 million. That came after Lubbock County Commissioners raised taxes as much as they legally could without holding an election. They say it's for the new jail, but now county employees are getting raises, so where is that money coming from?
Lubbock County Officials say it's about retention and keeping good workers working.
We know elected county officials are not getting raises, but here's what you probably don't know - it's those elected officials who fought for their employees to get what they're worth. "What we have found out over time is that it is cheaper for us to retain employees than to retrain," Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones said.
Jones says current employees have an average of about 10 years with the county. She says that's a good statement for the county and shows they're doing something right. "We are retaining individuals, but in order to retain them, you've got to reward them," Jones said.
"We want to try to reward our employees with raises if the money is available in the budget, but if it's not there, we can't," Lubbock County Commissioner Mark Heinrich said.
Heinrich says with 80 to 90 percent of next year's budget allocated to opening and staffing the new jail, those raises were tough to come by. "During the budget process the department heads came to us and most all of them asked to ‘please give my employees a raise'. I just asked in return to cut your budgets so we could give the non-elected employees a raise. So they did due diligence and came back and more than doubled cutting their budgets," he said.
During Friday's meeting, county commissioners will also look to approve two new county positions. Taxpayers will not foot that bill either as one is funded by a grant and the other comes from the jail's commissary fund.
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