TRAVIS COUNTY -- Travis County’s rank and file employees received a 3.5 percent pay raise this year. It didn't take long for Travis County commissioners to decide the county's 23 elected officials, including themselves, should also get a 3.5 percent pay hike.
County Judge Sam Biscoe, Commissioners Ron Davis and Margaret Gomez voted in favor of the move. She says for many of the employees, the raise is a cost of living issue.
“They're entitled to that 3.5 percent raise," said Gomez.
Commissioner Gomez says elected county officials have the option to reject a pay raise.
Commissioner Karen Huber voted against the pay raise, saying she won't accept the additional money.
“I just think it's not the right economic times to do this,” Huber said. “I think we need to send a message that we're tightening our belts on this, and I felt like I was the appropriate one to make that statement because I believe, if I recall, I'm the next-to-lowest paid on the whole list.”
Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt abstained, saying she also would not accept the pay hike. She suggested a finer analysis for future salary formulas.
Travis County Commissioners did a study comparing their salaries to other commissioners' salaries across Texas. That study found the Travis County judge is paid just over $111,000 a year, while the average pay rate in Texas for that position is $135,000. Travis County commissioners receive more than $92,000, while the average pay rate in Texas is just over $119,000.
After hearing the news about the commissioners' pay hike, reaction from Austinites was mixed.
“I can see where we need the money and where we don't, and they definitely don't need the money, said Nick Morris.
“They play a huge role in a lot of issues and regulations that affect all of us and our well-being,“ said Tammy Stroud. “It's an important job, and they should be paid as much as possible for it.”
In the end, the pay raises for all the elected officials will cost taxpayers more than $96,000. The last time county commissioners and the other elected officials, including Sheriff Greg Hamilton, got a raise was in 2010, and it was 2.5 percent.