Athens Review, Athens, Texas

September 11, 2013

County pay raise?

Sanders believes the time is here

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — After more than a month of tinkering, the proposed Henderson County budget has one major difference from the one submitted by County Judge Richard Sanders on July 31. That is an employee pay raise.

The Commissioners Court set Sept. 24 as the day of the budget hearing in which individuals from the public can speak or ask questions concerning the document. A vote is planned shortly after the public hearing.

Sanders said the first general-pay increase in five years is included in the package.  The last across-the-board raise was in 2009, when most county employees received a flat increase of $1,320. A dollar amount, rather than a percentage, was given so lower-salaried employees would get a larger-percentage pay bump.

“I think it’s going to be a 4-percent pay raise across the board for employees,” Sanders said. “I think the commissioners are going to support that. I expect it to pass.”

The county will be able to do that without increasing the tax rate.  Sanders said the proposed rate will be .4726580, the same as 2012. The county saw only a small increase in taxable values this year, up by $8,696,808, which is an increase of only 0.16 percent from 2012.

Fortunately, for the county, there was another major revenue increase. Inmates housed in the county jail from other entities increased dramatically in 2013.

“It’s our out-of-county inmates. Last year, we struggled with that. So in putting the budget together, we put in a lower number, because that’s what was dictated. We have a new county judge in Smith County and I’ve thanked him for what he’s doing,”

In August, Smith County reported 110 of its inmates were being housed elsewhere. The bulk of those were in Henderson County.

The total base salary for all county employees is $13,545,060.81. Of that, the largest amount is for sheriff’s office employees, with the total $2,956,887.18 for the detention division and $2,557,426.30 for the patrol division.