Commissioners seek raise for Taylor County employees in budget


ABILENE, Texas - Taylor County Commissioners wrapped up day two of the 2017 fiscal year budget hearing with a boost for county employees Tuesday.

The county employs more than 500 people, and commissioners are hoping to give each one of them a raise.

The proposed increase would total $1.2 million and include a one percent cost of living increase. It would also make employees eligible for a two percent merit increase and another two percent market adjustment raise.

"It cost the same for our employees to pay their electric bill, buy milk, buy gasoline and so we're going to look at the cost of living allowance," Taylor County Commissioner Chuck Statler said. Statler added that he the commissioners viewed county employees as "our best assets."

Statler told KTXS the increase would make salaries on par with counties of similar size, helping close the salary gap the county has been dealing with for the past two decades.

Staler said the county is funded in three ways: through fines, fees and ad valorem taxes. The increase would have to come from one these pots.

"So we will look at what our potential property taxes – I'd love to be able to lower the tax rate this year but this might not be the year," Staler said.

During the three days of hearings each county department will go through their budget line by line.

The Taylor County Sheriff's Office, the biggest department of the county, will take the floor Wednesday.

"If you look at the overall budget, about 65 to 66 percent of the county budget is for administration of justice law enforcement -- the sheriff's [office] and the constable, the court system, the jail," Statler said. "Just about every time we spend three dollars, two dollars goes to the administration of justice."

The budget has to be approved before the end of September, but Statler says the commissioners will hold public hearings to get input from county residents before that happens.

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