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Tarrant County Commissioners Vote Not To Give Raises To Themselves And Other Elected Officials

The exterior of the Tarrant County Courthouse.
David Lee
/
Shutterstock
The Tarrant County Courthouse.

In addition to the commissioners and elected officials, upper-level staff will also not get raises. Lower-level county employees will still get merit-based pay raises.

Tarrant County Commissioners Tuesday unanimously voted not to give raises to themselves, as well as upper-level staff and elected officials in the county.

Commissioner Roy Brooks made it clear at the start of the discussion that he would not vote in favor of raises for elected officials.

"Our economy has suffered. People have lost jobs. In many companies across our county and across America wages have been frozen if not cut," he said.

While county commissioners don't have a say in every decision the county faces, Brooks said this was moment where they could make a difference.

"A decision this court can make, however, is to share the pain with our constituents," he said. "I am in favor of not giving any elected official pay raises this fiscal year."

Those in attendance applauded Brooks' remarks. The other commissioners and County Judge Glen Whitley all voiced their agreement.

Any staff member who works under an elected official will not receive a raise. However, lower-level county employees will still receive 3 to 6% merit-based pay increases. Some residents, including Mariam Lambert, said that’s unfair when so many taxpayers don't even have jobs right now.

"There are plenty of people in our community that have no income that are struggling during this tumultuous year," Lambert said. "Your employees are extremely valuable... But at some point the taxpayers' pockets are empty and the ship's going to sink."

Karen Johnson also opposed raises across the board.

"You are essentially taking money from people who don't have jobs and giving it to people who do have jobs," she said.

But Charleston White disagreed. He said raises are justified, especially for law enforcement.

"3% to 6% raises given to our officers during what we're going through, I think they deserve it," White said. "They're facing something that we've never seen before in all of my years of living."

Jesse Taylor had a different idea -- give out merit-based raises to county employees, but cap them at 3%.

"A lot of people don't have no income at all. So if we are going to take taxpayers' dollars, at least get the minimum at 3%, not 6%," he said.

Judge Whitley tried to reassure residents, saying Tarrant County has always been conscious of how it spends taxpayer money. He said the county has the lowest ratio of county employees to residents in the state, the next lowest being Dallas County.

Whitley said if Tarrant County hired the same number of employees as Dallas County, it would cost taxpayers an additional $66 million.

"We are very, very stingy with the tax dollars you give us and with the tax dollars we ask from you," he said.

Commissioners also voted to approve the Tarrant County budget for the next fiscal year.

Got a tip? Email Rebekah Morr at rmorr@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @bekah_morr.

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