Now, they want to create a written guide so that those doing similar work are paid similar salaries.
“In order for this to work we need to have someone who knows what they are doing,” said County Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez during their June 9 meeting.
This isn’t the first time the court has tried to balance pay among all of the employees.
“Back in 2007, we hired someone—I think we paid him $5,000—and he came down and spoke to all the departments, looked at the numbers and came up with a pretty good plan that we still have, but it is now outdated,” Rodriguez said.
Pay has always been an issue for these county leaders as they never followed the schedule that was initially created.
About nine months ago, county leaders issued raises to some employees who they said were disproportionately underpaid.
Ultimately though, the court agreed to increase the pay of all full-time employees in the county to a minimum $10 per hour.
This sparked continued debate among those on the court as additional staff requested pay raises.
While all agreed they would not alter the budget, they have altered pay for some employees.
Now, the court is again tying to create a more uniform salary schedule.
“I think we need to have someone do an initial report to let us know what we need,” Rodriguez said.
County Judge David Silva reminded the court that if and when they adopt a salary schedule, it would mean they no longer offer the pay adjustments as they have in the past.
“We all understand that if we get on a schedule—you know what happens as soon we as deviate; the whole thing goes out the window,” he said.
Commissioner Ken Haggard said, “We all understand that, and there is no need to once you establish this.”
The biggest issue will be ensuring that they maintain the pay increases outlined in the schedule and work in advance of the budget.
“You have to take the percentages that move you from one year to another—those have to be considered a year in advance,” Haggard said.
Rodriguez sounded confident too that this would work.
“It is used by the state and federal government,” he said. “This will stop some of the things that have been going on.
“When someone leaves, (the department head) they want to give that salary to someone else.”
He added that this is truly the only fair method of controlling salaries
Haggard added, “It just becomes an equitable way to take care of every employee.”
“And it is fair to every employee,” Rodriguez said.
Silva interjected, “There are folks in this room right now who will tell you that we do anything but be fair in salaries.”
“With what we are doing, we have not been fair,” he said. “With this instrument everybody can see where they are.”
Employees, he said, will know from one year to the next where their pay will be.
“It is not a guessing game, hoping someone leaves or dies,” Rodriguez said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.