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McKinney Courier Gazette
Editorial Saturday, August 4, 2007
Most people would love to get a pay raise of $5,000 or more. In today’s economy fraught with layoffs and uncertainty, a few people might take a $5,000 pay cut just to keep their jobs.
And in a time when people are questioning the tax burden, elected officials who decide to give themselves a pay hike are demonstrating a high level of chutzpah.
Collin County commissioners on Tuesday voted to give themselves and most other county officials a 5 percent raise - from $102,260 to $107,373 per year in the commissioners’ case. County Judge Keith Self pledged not to raise his salary during his term, remaining at $135,069 per year. For that, Self is to be congratulated.
Just why the commissioners need the money is uncertain. It seems, somehow, they feel deprived because commissioners in Texas’ five largest counties - Harris, Bexar, Dallas, Tarrant and Travis - make more than they do. Too bad. At least they backed off from the 6.5 percent raise they were originally talking about.
At least the pay-hike issue was discussed in open session, after former commissioner candidate Bill Baumbach threatened to get the attorney general involved in an open records dispute when it looked as if the commissioners were going to mull the issue in closed session.
This action by commissioners is bad timing, though they are under budget deadlines. They are about to ask voters to finance more than $200 million in bonds for much-needed roads and parks facilities. By using taxpayer money to give themselves an extra $5,000 per year, they risk a backlash from residents tired of what they consider wasteful spending. The commissioners would be wise to follow Self’s lead and freeze their salaries for the remainder of the term. Perhaps they could vote a pay hike effective after the next election. Or maybe they could put it on the ballot as a referendum to see if the voters want to raise their salaries. It’s usually the bosses who decide whether to increase an employee’s salary, and the voters are the commissioners’ bosses.
Commissioners should stop trying to satisfy their own ego by comparing their pay to that of larger counties and start concerning themselves more with their constituents’ interests. If not, they risk deepening a feeling that many people have that the commissioners is just a club of good ol’ boys (and girl).
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