A week after stating they would like to see county employee salary increases, Ector County Commissioners received recommendations from County Attorney Dusty Gallivan to raise the salaries of county employees and officials that would cost the county around $2.6 million to implement.
The salary committee was formed last August, meeting with department heads and elected officials to discuss changes and problems in the county pay system. Gallivan said the committee had spent around 40 hours talking with county employees about changes they would like to see.
Gallivan’s first recommendation to commissioners was that all county employees employed as of March 31, 2018, would receive a 10 percent pay increase to whatever their current base is. This would include the county commissioners themselves, apart from the county judge, who would receive a different raise.
“That would get us close to market value,” Gallivan said. “It’s still not market value, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Gallivan also suggested that any employee hired after that would be moved to a minimum of the new step 1 in the recommended system, which would be at the step 3 of the old system.
The step system is designed to set the rate of pay for employees based on their time working with the county. Every year for the first five years, every employee moves up another step and receives a 5 percent raise, then for years six through nine, they receive that raise every other year, for years nine through 12, they receive a raise every three years, and then the step system stops. The pay for each step depends on the position, County Auditor David Austin said.
In the new proposed step system, hourly county employees would be given a 4 percent raise every other year.
Several county department heads would also see raises under the system, including Sheriff Mike Griffis, who has an annual salary of $86,303 under the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
“Our current sheriff makes less than some people who work for him,” Gallivan said. “It just doesn’t make sense to us.”
Gallivan recommended raising the salary of sheriff, no matter who was elected to the position, to $120,000. He also recommended that the annual salary for the county auditor and the IT director, who currently makes $102,589.55 and $90,293, respectively. He suggested the county judge receive a raise to $125,000, and include a stipend should they have a law degree that would put their salary around the same as a county court at law judge, who makes $152,200. County Judge Ron Eckert currently makes $113,876.13.
“These four individuals, the decisions they make day in and day out, affect everybody in the county,” Gallivan said, “and that’s why we feel they need a bump higher than 10 percent to their current base salary.”
The estimated cost of these changes would be around $2.6 million, Gallivan said, which he said was a little higher because it included the pay of district judges, the district attorney and county attorney, whose pay would not be affected by the changes, as they’re paid based off state legislation.
Eckert said there would be no salary changes resolved until the final budget is adopted, but agreed that county employees do need a raise.
“There has been a problem with our salary structure,” Eckert said. “It’s not competitive to a certain degree with other counties, and we do end up losing employees to private industry. This is a cyclical problem, because as the oilfield goes up, that pay divergence between county work and private work grows larger.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Armando Rodriguez re-proposed a project to pave the 11.2 miles of unpaved roads in his precinct, which was previously turned down due to costs and saying they would like to see a study done on all unpaved roads throughout the county. The proposal entailed an initial survey of unpaved roads done by Landgraf, Crutcher & Associates for a fee of no more than $77,050, and a total project cost estimated to be $1,185,195.
Rodriguez said he re-proposed the project because the cost of the project for widening 56th Street came out lower than expected at $731,864, and said they now had money to do the survey and break up the repaving in parts to pay over time. Rodriguez made the initial motion for the project.
“I think we need to do it,” Rodriguez said. “I want to see economic development in all areas of Ector County,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez’s motion was met with complete silence from the other commissioners.
“Motion dies for lack of a second,” Eckert said.
“I just want to be sure,” Rodriguez said after the motion died. “I want to see more economic development in all of Ector County, but I can see that you don’t.”
Eckert said after the meeting Rodriguez is entitled to his opinion, but didn’t agree with his statement, looking at it as a money issue.
“That discussion came on the heels of the discussion of employee raises and restructuring of that which would be, if accepted, would have been about $2.6 million,” Eckert said. “I’m as interested in economic development as the next person, but I also think that we have to do something for our employees, because they’ve been without a raise for several years.”
Rodriguez said he plans to re-present the issue as budget talks for the next fiscal year continue, which will begin Oct. 1.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, COMMISSIONERS
- Approved the extension of the March 8 Burn Ban in Ector County.
- Received a report concerning the MHRC Plans that have been submitted since Dec. 1, 2014 for all precincts.
- Withdrew a request to authorize an asbestos study and report for all county-owned buildings located between Third and Fourth Street on the east side of Texas Avenue.
- Rejected the requested purchase and installation of a new Biometric Access entry system for the Sheriff’s Office and the jail at a cost of $6,913.01 to be purchased out of LEC Debt monies, to be looked at after the next budget is passed.
- Approved a proposed purchase of a walk behind airless pavement striper for parking lot and other assigned areas of roadway striping, and to approve a proposed line item transfer to equipment services fund, special department equipment from equipment services fund, motor vehicle equipment for $16,845.
- Approved the bid and contract for the Ramp Grant 2017-2018, signage upgrade and surge suppression projects, and the proposed budget amendment to capital improvement fund — county airport, ramp grant improvements from unreserved fund balance in the amount of $10,578.
- Approved the proposed agreement with Reece Albert, Inc. for the widening of 56th Street (from Billy Hext to Faudree Roads) and the proposed master service agreement with Reece Albert, Inc.
- Approved the proposed AIA Change Order No. 7, for the Jail Additions and Renovations Project.
- Approved a request to hire a previous employee who left at a corporal step 4 position and rehire back as a jailer II/Deputy I, from step 1 to step 4.
- Approved a request to hire a CPS attorney at a step 5 due to experience.
- Approved the proposed Pampas Villas Subdivision being a 29.2 acre tract of land out of section 5, block 41, T-1-S T&P TY Co. survey.
- Will consider the proposed Armendariz MHRC to be located at 10188 Westridge Drive being a 1.75 acre tract out of lot 4, block 6, Westridge Subdivision, a subdivision of 674.44 acres of land in section 16, block 43, T-2-S, T&P Ry. Co. Survey.
- Approved the proposed Vista De Leon Subdivision, being a replat of lot 8, block 31, Clearwater Mesa, section 2, and a replat of tract 6, survey plat of section 35, being a subdivision of 38.51 acres in section 35, block 43, T-3-S, T&P Ry. Co. Survey.
- Approved the proposed sale of the property located in the Midway Country Estates Subdivision, Gardendale for $40,500, which is less than the market value specified in the
judgment of foreclosure against the property and is also less than the total amount of judgments against the property.
- Assigned attorney Denis Dennis as counsel to the following pending lawsuit: Albert Garza v. Mike Griffis, et al, referenced in the summons in a civil action as civil action No. MO: 18-cv-044 DC, referenced in the order for service and advisory as civil action No. MO: 18-CV-00044-DC, filed in the United States District Court Western District of Texas Midland-Odessa Division.
- Approved a proposed line item transfer to general fund, constables, radio maintenance and repairs from non-departmental other, other general expense in the amount of $110.
- Withdrew a proposed line item transfer to elections fund, education travel from elections fund, election resources for $820.
- Approved a proposed budget amendment to elections fund, election income and to elections fund, legal advertising for $4,300.
- Approved a proposed budget amendment to coliseum capital improvement fund, advertising from unreserved fund balance in the amount of $364; to county capital improvement fund, advertising from unreserved fund balance in the amount of $1,092; to capital projects fund, advertising from unreserved fund balance in the amount of $939; and to airport capital improvement fund, advertising from unreserved fund balance in the amount of $894.
- Received the Accounts Payable Fund Requirements Report for May 29, 2018 to review county financial statements and reports.