County Treasurer Vi Malone sought clarification regarding the assistant county auditor’s salary.
Malone said that any pay increase over five percent has to be approved by Commissioners Court.
Commissioner James Rosales said that he was aware of the amounts requested by the county auditor’s department and he approved of them, although in the end he oped to vote against the budget for other reasons. Rosales listed three amounts: $52,000, $35,000 and $24,000 for the three employees.
According to County Treasurer Vi Malone, the salaries for the auditor and two assistant auditors jumped from 15 to 17 percent above last year’s salary rates, depending on position.
Commissioner Pete Jauer said the exact figures of the three salaries were not known at the time he voted to approve the budget.
“I presented the salary requests for the auditor’s department to Judge Saxon and Judge Rayes and after their careful consideration and evaluation, they determined that the requests were appropriate with the education and experience level of the employees of the department and the salaries were comparable to other employees within their districts,” County Auditor Lajuana Kasprzyk said.
Kasprzyk said that Commissioners Court was aware of the salary amounts on Sept. 28 before passing the budget.
Rosales apologized for any confusion related to what happened when the budget was passed, but his understanding is that the court always honors the salaries set by the district judges.
Malone said she just wanted the court to clarify their intent in regard to the salary increases that were increasing beyond five percent, requiring approval of Commissioners Court.
Ross Fisher, an attorney representing the court, talked about the issues, among them whether or not the increases were fair considering the five percent pay increases awarded to other county departments.
District Judge Stella Saxon told the court that the employees of the county auditor’s office work hard and long hours and deserve the salary increases requested this year.
“The job that the auditor does is so important to the fiscal health of the county,” Saxon said, noting that with the increases, the salary levels remain lower than comparable positions in other south Texas counties.
“If you decide that this paper that you looked at, that sets out the salaries of these three women, was not in fact what you did on that day, I will walk out of this room and I think most of the people of Karnes County will leave thinking that you are simply being petty, small and incompetent,” Saxon said. “You did what you did – whether you didn’t bother to look at what you did – you did it and you need to now own it and know that, this isn’t any affront to any of you, it is simply my belief that we should value and honor and reward the good service of our employees. I know you will do the right thing.”
County Judge Barbara Shaw said she did not look at the amounts listed before voting.
“In my mind, I would have never approved 20 percent for one department and five percent for another, because that is what the argument was that day about ‘Were we being fair?’” Shaw said.
Commissioner Carl Hummel said giving raises and taking them back reflects poorly on the county.
“This is just insanity,” Hummel said.
Commissioner Tracey Schendel said the pay raises should stay as approved, regardless of the intent of county officials at the time of voting.
“It is in there,” Schendel said. “We voted that way. That’s the way I see it. We just have to leave it that way.”
Commissioner Rosales made a motion to approve the amounts above five percent for the assistant auditors as approved by the district judges.
Commissioner Hummel seconded the motion.
The motion carried on a 3-1-1 vote with Rosales, Hummel and Schendel voting in favor while Judge Shaw voted against and Commissioner Jauer abstained from voting.