Dallas County Commissioners Tuesday rejected pay raises for themselves and other elected officials.
During a coronavirus pandemic that made many people unemployed, the vote was unanimous, but there were doubts it would be that way as the discussion began.
There was strong opposition to the raises from public speakers, some of whom talked about the financial pain they have suffered.
The speakers had to wait until around three in the afternoon to be heard at a meeting that was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. There was more than an hour delay due to technical difficulties for the virtual meeting and the many other issues were heard first.
“The optics of the 2% when so many people are hurting, is just a little too much for a lot of folks,” said County Commissioner J.J. Koch.
Dallas County plans to give that 2% raise to the rest of the workforce in a proposed new budget.
Dallas County Commissioners are paid just over $170,000 a year. The 2% raise would have added around $3,400 to their annual salary.
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Dallas County Constables, Justices of the Peace, the Sheriff, County Clerk, Treasurer and Tax Assessor would also have received similar raises.
“I have always supported that if one set of people got the raise, then everybody got the raise,” County Commissioner Theresa Daniel said.
But this year, Daniel said the circumstances are different. She joined the other County Commissioners in rejecting elected officeholder raises.
"I’m sorry for the other elected officials who were on this boat in the past. Because it’s not just the people at this table. But, I guess as they say, you have to make the best decision you can with the facts you have at hand,” she said.
Commissioner J.J. Koch praised her decision.
“It takes courage and leadership to change your mind. And thank you so much,” Koch said.
Dallas County plans to help property taxpayers with a small reduction in the tax rate, to cap property tax revenue at the same amount as in the previous budget, even though tax values are up. The proposed rate is .23974 compared to .2431 in the current budget. It is a 1.38% reduction.