McLennan County commissioners got a look Wednesday at how much cost-of-living raises for all county employees would add to the budget and started reviewing raise requests for individual employees.

Department heads and elected officials are seeking individual raises, in addition to cost-of-living raises, for 55 McLennan County employees, totaling $161,468.29, including benefits. Two department heads requested salary hikes for themselves.

Human Resources Director Amanda Talbert said the latest cost-of-living assessment from the Baylor Center for Business and Economic Research, which is specific to Central Texas, identifies a 2.31 percent increase.

County commissioners granted a 4.35 percent across-the-board cost-of-living raise last year.

A 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment across the county would cost more than $672,000, and hitting the economic research center’s 2.3 percent mark would cost more than $1 million, Talbert said. A 3 percent bump would cost the county $1.3 million, she said.

Talbert also recommended the county renew its incentive pay plan, which commissioners first implemented during budget talks a year ago.

The program allows department heads and elected officials to reward staff with one-time bonuses based on performance reviews. Talbert said county officials reported that the program was successful in its first year.

A 1.5 percent incentive budget would cost more than $287,500. A 3 percent incentive plan would cost more than $575,000, and a 4 percent incentive budget would cost more than $766,700, she said.

The incentive plan excludes the sworn peace officers in the sheriff’s office, because the department has its own program.

Individual raises

Talbert is one of two department heads requesting a raise for themselves in the upcoming budget cycle.

She requested a $2,578.36 raise, which would increase her salary to $86,502.

Mental Health Court Services Coordinator Tessa Slovak is requesting a $7,023.55 increase in pay, which would move her salary to $62,217.

Talbert is also seeking almost $73,000 for a new position in her department.

No budget decisions are final until the final budget document is approved. Commissioners plan to adopt a final budget by mid-August.

Budget discussions continue at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Commissioners Courtroom on the first floor of the McLennan County Courthouse.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Recommended for you