McLennan County commissioners on Friday ruled on individual raise requests and approved hiring five more employees, all while suggesting the county may need a salary survey.
Commissioners approved 17 individual raises in the county out of 49 requests. In doing so, commissioners approved $70,559 of the $169,748 in requested raises. Several decisions on raise requests were postponed.
Commissioners also agreed to include the salaries for five new hires for fiscal year 2016. The court originally received 17 new-hire requests, for a total of $1.16 million in salaries. Six of those new-hire requests were not approved and commissioners will review the remaining six new-hire requests at an upcoming meeting.
The newly approved positions include: a deputy tax assessor for $34,500; a court reporter for the 19th State District Court at $76,256; two deputies to work at the courthouse for a combined $114,680 in salaries and equipment; and an administrative sergeant for $58,348.
Commissioners have not yet decided on whether to give cost-of-living pay increases to all county employees.
Throughout the county, two department heads and five elected officials requested raises for themselves.
Two of those raises were approved by commissioners. County Treasurer Bill Helton’s salary will increase from $70,823 to $86,103 and Health Director Eva Cruz Hamby’s $68,750 salary will increase to $75,750.
They also decided to not approve raise requests for Precinct 3 Constable David Maler, Precinct 4 Constable Stan Hickey and Precinct 5 Constable Freddie Cantu.
Maler makes $40,173 and was asking for a $2,009 raise; Hickey earns $35,865 and was requesting a $4,135 raise; and Cantu makes $43,476 and was asking for a $3,524 raise.
Commissioners have not decided on whether to grant the raise requests from Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Fernando Villarreal and Veterans Services Officer Steve Hernandez.
Hernandez makes $50,338 and is asking for a $3,867 raise; Villarreal earns $49,931 and is requesting a $5,000 raise.
Commissioner Kelly Snell repeated throughout the meeting that he was against granting individual raise requests because they were arbitrary.
Snell suggested Human Resources Director Amanda Talbert conduct a salary survey of all county employees, so salaries could be adjusted — up or down — when preparing for the fiscal year 2017 budget.
“If you raise them all up, the only person that loses is the taxpayer,” Snell said.
Commissioner Ben Perry said that could be possible as Talbert works to restructure her staff.
Talbert told commissioners she was interested in restructuring her office and requested raises for three of her staff and a new hire.
Talbert, who was hired in March, said she wanted a more senior-level staff member to assist her and help with certain projects.
The new hire, an assistant human resources director, would make $65,000. The raises for other staff members would go from $40,040 to $43,000 for the benefits specialist, $35,828 to $37,000 for the human resources coordinator, and $40,040 to $49,000 for the human resources specialist.
County Judge Scott Felton said a good HR department supports employees and improves attitudes.
He said there’s more this HR department will be able to do under Talbert’s leadership than it has in years past, so he wanted to support her requests to help her reach those goals. Perry agreed, but asked for more time to consider the numbers.
Snell said he couldn’t support a new position for the HR department because Talbert has only been in her position a few months and could not have fully grasped all the duties yet.
Budget discussions continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Commissioners Courtroom on the first floor of the McLennan County Courthouse. Commissioners have until Aug. 31 to adopt the final budget.