The Hays County Commissioner’s Court (the Court) this morning, after much discussion and citizen comment, unanimously approved a resolution whereby the Court will adopt both the local market as the guide for law enforcement officer’s compensation and a step program for those officers, supports a base salary for deputies starting at $40,794, and will authorize the county to pay for law enforcement officer’s uniforms starting in the 2009 county budget.
Commissioner Will Conley (Precinct 3), who introduced and moved approval of the resolution, (Commissioner Jeff Barton, Precinct 2 seconded the motion), said that the situation had arisen because the county’s law enforcement offices “were having issues in recruiting” because they don’t “have the proper tools.”
Sheriff Allen Bridges spoke in favor of the resolution. He asked the Court to act immediately because of recruitment issues. In response to Judge Elizabeth, “Liz”, Sumter’s question of how the resolution would help recruitment, Bridges answered by the county paying for uniforms and by adopting the step program. Captain Mike Davenport of the Hays County Sheriff’s Office said that the adoption of the step process was “the most important” of the four proposals in the resolution, noting “it’s 95%” of the total that the officers were requesting.
The Court spent most of the time in its extended discussion of the resolution on the issues of the step program and budget process fairness. Commissioners Barton, Conley, and Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe (Precinct 1) supported all four proposals in the resolution.
Commissioner Karen Ford, while supporting three of the issues, expressed concern over committing the court to adopting the step program and suggested modifying the resolution so that it would commit the Court to “consider” the step program. Judge Sumter supported adding “consider” to the issues of base pay, step program and the county purchase of uniforms. No motion was made to change the language of the resolution either way.
Commissioner Barton observed that “We know we’re having terrible trouble recruiting in law enforcement” and that the Court needed to move forward but he also cautioned the Court that “there is no waste in the budget that comes close to paying for” the proposed budget increases represented in this resolution. The current county law enforcement officer base pay is $36,287 and the agreed base pay from today’s resolution for the 2009 budget will be $40,794.
After the unanimous vote of the Court in support of the county law enforcement officers, Sheriff Bridges said, “I am very satisfied that the Commissioner’s Court supported law enforcement today” and was glad that he could inform “future employees that there will be competitive base pay, step raises and uniforms furnished” by the county. Captain Davenport said the Court’s action “is a huge milestone historically” and a huge victory for us, ” and concluded by saying that “we look forward to working with the Commissioner’s Court to work out the details.”
By ED MIHALKANIN, Ph.D
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