Johnson County sheriff’s deputies are pushing for a 25 percent raise, saying their pay is so low some of them are on public assistance.
The starting pay for a deputy is $37,000, far below what most other departments pay, said Johnson County Sheriff’s Association President James Novian.
"When we have as many employees as we do on welfare and government assistance, you know, that's not good,” Novian said.
As a detective, Novian investigates crimes against children.
He has 13 years with the department and makes less than $50,000 a year.
"It is tough,” he said Thursday. “I have two kids. I have an 11 and a 9-year-old and it is tough. I'm one of the guys on housing assistance."
He's not alone.
The association surveyed all deputies and dispatchers and found 15 members accepting school lunch assistance, six taking donated clothing and one getting food from a pantry.
Signs are going up on some businesses supporting the deputies.
“We support Johnson County deputies,” read one sign in Cleburne. “Pray for pay.”
Novian said a 225 percent raise would “just barely getting us to the average."
Commissioner Larry Woolley said he and other county leaders will examine the pay issue after budget numbers come in July 25.
"We are going to have to look at those low-end salaries for sure,” he said. "Every member of this court would love to give every employee a huge increase. Now a 25 percent increase? I don't know that that's achievable. I don't know that that's sustainable."
Johnson County has seen an increase in natural gas revenues but Woolley said those numbers can vary year to year and should not be used for salaries.
The county has no sales tax and depends on property taxes and fees for funding.
It also has $21 million in a reserve fund.
“We’re known for being a financially sound and stable county,” Wooley said.