by ANDY SEVILLA
Hays County proposes almost $1 million in increased merit pay for county employees and law enforcement officers.
The Hays County proposed budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 (FY13) bestows elected officials and county staff a three percent merit pay increase, and a two percent pay increase for most law enforcement officers.
Hays County Auditor Bill Herzog said the commissioners court set up the merit pay by providing each county department with a three percent increase in their total salary budget. Each department will then determine how to distribute the increased money amongst employees.
“It could be possible that some employees get more or less than three percent (pay increase),” Herzog said.
For law enforcement officers, a collective bargaining agreement is presently in place with the county, Herzog said.
“We have a contract with their organization,” Herzog said. “They have two percent (pay increase) last year, two percent this year and two percent next year.”
The county’s proposed FY13 budget totals about $167 million, with $30.2 million going to county salaries alone, which include the new positions added, positions that were removed and positions that were re-graded.
The proposed FY13 budget puts forth $937,219 in total increased salary pay, with $788,507 totaling the salary base increase and $148,712 in fringe pay.
Of the total base salary increases, $527,360 are earmarked for county staff merit pay, $37,681 for elected officials and $223,466 for law enforcement.
Herzog said the county is able to increase salary pay and fulfill the law enforcement officers’ collective bargaining agreement with a lesser-proposed tax rate, because of expected increased revenues.
“We determine the revenues we have available for next year and we produce a budget of expenditures that are equal to those revenues that are available,” Herzog said. “Some of the additional revenue that we anticipate in FY13 that could support additional expense are revenues such as increased sales taxes and new improvements included in our property valuations for next year.”
The county’s proposed tax rate for FY13 is one-hundredth of a cent less than the current tax rate of 46.91 cents. The proposed tax rate of 46.90 cents per $100 in assessed property value would on average lower a homeowner’s taxes by $1.
The Central Appraisal District has valued the average home for FY13 at $157,899 (including a $5,000 exemption) for Hays County, compared to the current year’s value of $158,038. The average home devaluation coupled with the lower tax rate would lessen the tax payment of an average home from $741.36 to $740.55.
The budget for FY13 will raise $1,030,427 or 1.95 percent more, in total property taxes than the present fiscal year. That increase is due to new property added to the tax rolls this year that will put forth $1,665,140.
Under the proposed budget, County Judge Bert Cobb’s pay would increase $2,325, from the present $77,490 to $79,815. All four commissioners’ pay would increase $1,951, from $65,049 to $67,000. Commissioners Debbie Gonzales-Ingalsbe and Will Conley also would receive an increase of $60 in their longevity pay, from $1,115 to $1,175, and from $360 to $420, respectively.
Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler would see his pay increase $2,631, from $87,690 to $90,321. All Hays County Justices of the Peace would see an increase in pay of $1,614, from $53,810 to $55,424; and all five precinct constables’ pay would increase $1,515, from $50,502 to $52,017.
Hays County District Clerk Beverly Crumley and Hays County Clerk Liz Gonzalez would see their pay rise from $62,309 to $64,178; County Tax Assessor Luanne Caraway would see her pay increase from $66,680 to $68,680; and County Treasurer Michele Tuttle would see her pay increase from $64,001 to $65,921.
The commissioners court proposed a budget of about $167 million for FY13, down about $54.4 million from the current $221.5 million budget. The decrease is largely due to less road and building construction planned for FY13, which begins Oct. 1.