County commissioners disagree on proposed budget before vote

County commissioners disagree on proposed budget before vote

LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - On Monday, Lubbock County commissioners will vote on the budget.

There is a proposal to give an across-the-board increase of three percent in salaries to all departments. However, there is a chance that not all county employees will receive a raise.

In the past, Lubbock County has given raises based on cost of living or merit, sometimes a combination of the two.

This year, they are proposing a salary supplement, which works like merit.

Department heads and elected officials will determine how much money is distributed to employees. By law, county commissioners must approve their own raises.

This year, they plan to give themselves a three percent increase.

We asked Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones if she thinks voters would approve of their proposed three percent raise.

"I think it will depend on who you talk to. You'll have some who say, 'Absolutely, they are not paid enough.' And then you will have others who will say, 'Well, they knew what the job paid when they came in,'" Jones said.

Jones said giving themselves raises in small increments seems to be going over much more smoothly than what they were doing before.

"Two years ago, we had gotten in that situation where we had not done anything for elected officials in about 12 years," Jones said.

You may remember when KCBD reported on county commissioners then giving themselves a 38 percent raise.

"What we heard on e-mail, on Facebook, face to face, telephone calls, from everybody is that, you know, 'Why don't you do this in small increments rather than having this one big jump?'" Jones said.

Jones said that is what she has wanted to do for years.

"Whatever is done for everyone else, you do the same thing for that elected position," Jones said.

However, not all county employees may see a raise like commissioners.

"They may have some that either have just started and not proven themselves or it's an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job and that's about it; there is no extra effort, that sort of thing. That person may get only get one or two percent," Jones said.

Lubbock County Commissioner Bubba Sedeno said he has never been in favor of a raise based on merit, and said favoritism can be a problem.

"It has happened in the past," Sedeno said.

Sedeno would like to give a $1,000 raise to every county employee. However, Jones said she is in favor of the salary supplement and is not concerned about raises being unfair.

"The elected officials and the department heads are very fair in how they distribute the money when it is left up to them," Jones said.

Jones said commissioners keep a close eye on the payroll change notifications. However, Sedeno remains against the proposal.

"To me, if the department director or elected official wants to weed out or punish the employee by not giving him a raise, to me, he is not doing his job because that is why we have a human resources department," Sedeno said.

Lubbock County resident Ann Nixon was not certain about these pay raises, but after speaking with commissioners Jones and Mark Heinrich, she said a raise based on merit may not be a bad idea.

"I want the very best personnel here available, not because we didn't give them a pay increase and they went and took a job in Dallas," Nixon said.

After all, it is residents like Nixon who these county commissioners are answering to.

"You know, they talk about term limits. We have term limits, and it's decided by the voters," Jones said.

Lubbock County commissioners will vote on the budget in commissioners court Monday morning.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. with a public hearing about the proposed budget at 10:30 a.m.

Commissioners will vote on the budget right after the hearing.

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