Hays County officials get 16 percent salary increase

By Moses Leos III

Elected officials for Hays County will see a salary increase as was allocated by the Commissioners Court during the budget process in September.

Hays County’s choice to increase elected officials’ pay, along with pay for all Hays County employees, was part of their $178.4 million budget, which passed by a 4-0 vote on Sept. 22. 

The increase will see Hays County spend roughly $1.6 million on salaries for elected officials, marking the fourth straight year county elected officials have received a pay raise since 2012. 

In addition, Hays County employees saw pay raises as well. Hays County Auditor Bill Herzog said the amount of raises varied for different positions throughout the county. 

While each elected position saw a different percentage increase, Herzog said all positions were subject to a 2008 study, which held criteria for raising salaries. 

According to Herzog, the study’s criteria called for comparing elected officials’ salaries with those of counties similar to Hays. 

But the 2008 downturn in the economy, according to Herzog, led to Hays County freezing elected officials’ salaries between the years of 2009 to 2012. 

“At that time, we couldn’t afford [the pay raises]. The commissioners court couldn’t do anything for elected officials,” Herzog said. “When the economy went south, elected officials didn’t get raises.” 

That changed in 2012, when Hays County officials began to see their paychecks grow. 

Herzog said elected officials received a 3 percent raise in 2013, followed by a two percent raise in 2014. In fiscal year 2015, elected officials saw a 4 percent pay increase across the board except for two positions, the Hays County Tax Assessor and Hays County Precinct No. 4 Constable, who filed a grievance regarding their salaries. 

The steady raise in pay extends to Hays County Commissioners, which have seen their salaries increase by 26 percent from 2012 to 2015. The Hays County judge position has received a 14 percent pay jump during that time frame. 

All four commissioners and the judge also receive a stipend for travel within the county. A $15,000 stipend was allocated for all five positions. Herzog said the commissioners court decides what that stipend should be. 

But two citizens openly spoke out against raising elected officials’ salaries during a public hearing held on the budget on Sept. 22. 

Citizen Dan Lyon said that commissioners serve the public, and not the other way around, “despite what Judge Cobb may believe.” 

Lyon called the commissioners “brigands” and that they are “lining their own pockets.” 

“In my opinion, you’re like jackals and hyenas attacking the cash cow, who are the people paying your taxes,” Lyon said. “You pretend to be helping the people of Hays County. The truth is, your exorbitant taxes are hard on the middle class and the working poor.” 

Hays County citizen Pat Chisholm didn’t object to normal pay raises, but said that the county needs to “look seriously” at the evaluation process. 

While he said salaries go up when the budgets go up, he felt raises should be based on merit. 

“You’re asking for a raise because you have taken money away from us,” he said. “When I pay more taxes on my household … this is money taken from me and money I’ve lost. Why should this be part of the reason you should get a raise?” 

Hays County Judge Bert Cobb said on Sept. 22 that even with pay raises, Hays County employees are “behind the market.” 

“We could have raised [salaries]by ten percent to meet the market,” Cobb said. “I’m proud of the work by this court. You can’t hire someone to run a $284 million corporation for what we get paid.” 

Cobb added that raising salaries is something the county has to do for its employees. 

“If you don’t like the way we do it, you can say whatever you wish,” Cobb said. “The same people who argue against the pay raises were the same people who were in office who fought for the raises.” 

 

New salaries for Hays County officials

Sheriff

$105,394 base + $420 telephone allowance = $105,814 total

County judge

$88,508 base + $15,000 travel allowance = $103,508 total

County commissioner

$82,151 base  + $15,000 travel allowance = $97,151 total

Tax assessor

$91,057 base  + $3,306 travel allowance + $420 telephone allowance = $94,783 total

District clerk 

$83,322 base + $3,064 travel allowance = $86,386 total

County Clerk

$83,322 base + $3,064 travel allowance = $86,386 total

Treasurer

$79,509 base + $3,064 travel allowance = $82,573 total

Justice of the Peace

$66,686 base + $4,564 travel allowance + $9800 magistrate allowance = $81,050 total

Constable

$67,762 base  + $720 uniform allowance = $68,482 total

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