A more than $141,000 timekeeping system, a wage survey, a title change, new personnel and raises for department heads were just a few of the budget requests that came before McLennan County commissioners Wednesday.
Commissioners have not made a final decision on the lists of requests from department heads and elected officials. County leaders must adopt the budget by Aug. 26 for the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. Prior to adoption, the public will have the opportunity to review the proposed budget.
Health Director Eva Cruz Hamby requested a raise for herself and her employees.
Hamby said she took the money from an eliminated part-time position and divided it evenly, while still reducing her budget request from the county. Hamby acknowledged she also received a raise last year but said that was to bring her salary in line with the other department heads.
“I was at that time the lowest-paid department head,” she said.
She is requesting $1,500 to move her salary from $75,750 to $77,250. Commissioners approved a $7,000 raise, from $68,750 to $75,750, for her in the fiscal year 2016 budget.
Also during the meeting, Jail Magistrate Judge Virgil Bain sought raises and a change to his title.
“Jail magistrate is one of the things I do, but I do a lot in addition to that,” Bain said.
Commissioners agreed to switch Bain’s title to associate judge.
Bain requested funding for raises for two employees and one new position in the fiscal year 2017 budget.
“We have plenty of work for an additional person,” Bain said.
He asked for $35,500 for a pretrial services assistant. If the request is approved, he would eliminate a part-time position.
Commissioners also reviewed a few capital improvement requests.
Human Resources Director Amanda Talbert requested about $141,000 for an electronic time-keeping system for the county. Many departments enter information manually into the county’s system after employees fill out paper time sheets.
“We’ve had lots of conversations about purchasing a timekeeping system that would omit the paper methodology,” Talbert said.
Talbert said the requested dollar amount is based on an assumption that some of the county departments would prefer clocking in to work via a website. Other county departments that have employees without offices and who work in the field might be better suited for a badge or code to swipe or enter upon coming and leaving the workplace, she said.
An automated system also would make it easier for supervisors to determine if someone can use vacation days because they would be able to easily access accrued time for each employee, she said.
Commissioner Kelly Snell said the county is overdue for a time clock system.
Commissioner Ben Perry and County Judge Scott Felton said they want to ensure there is support from department heads in moving forward with the new program before a large amount of money is spent to purchase the equipment.
Talbert said she is also interested in paying for a wage analysis compensation survey. However, after talking to companies in hopes of getting a cost estimate, she was not provided one, Talbert said. The survey would ensure the county’s salaries and hiring rates are in line with the market in industries with similar positions, she said.
The county’s last survey was done in 1997, Talbert said. She also sought direction as to whether commissioners also would be interested in a company that could perform an efficiency study along with the wage study. She said companies can analyze the cost and time it takes to produce work and identify areas for improvement.
“What I’m seeing today, it seems like our midpoints seem to be where market is,” Talbert said. “When you hire a consulting firm to do this, you’re getting much more access to data than I can get or acquire on the internet.”
Talbert also requested raises for two of her employees. She said she wants to reclassify the HR coordinator to an HR specialist and move the salary from $37,000 to $46,786. She also is requesting an increase for the current HR specialist, from $41,050 to $46,786.
County leaders will continue discussions of the fiscal year 2017 budget at 9 a.m. Friday in the Commissioners Courtroom on the first floor of the McLennan County Courthouse, 501 Washington Ave.