After a four year wait, elected officials in Williamson County could receive a 3 percent salary increase next year.
At a July 30 meeting, Williamson County commissioners voted to move forward with a proposed salary increase for elected county officials. The increase would raise the salaries of 19 officials, including the county judge, county treasurer, county attorney, county clerk, district clerk, sheriff, tax assessor collector, county commissioners, justices of the peace and constables.
District Clerk Lisa David, who addressed commissioners at the meeting, pointed to cost of living and insurance cost increases as reasons for the wage increases.
“(Salary) wasn't the big decision maker for me, it was because I wanted to be here for the county,” David said of why she ran for district clerk. "I think we deserve ... to be looked at for some type of raise. I understand it's not a popular subject. It's very difficult to come before you and bring that up.”
Williamson County Clerk Nancy Rister said the raise was about ensuring the quality of future candidates, and not about rewarding current elected officials.
“The kind of candidate you'll have running is people that you do not want in office," Rister said. "You need people with experience and you need people with a college degree."
Rister said waiting four years without raises puts Williamson County behind in comparison to other counties in Texas.
“If you keep doing this, it's going to get so far behind that you'll never be able to catch up,” Rister said.
Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis estimated the total impact of the 3 percent increase on the county budget to be less than $50,000.
“I think we're going to dig ourselves a hole if we don't do something,” Gattis said.
Connie Watson, Williamson County public affairs manager, said the vote is the first step in the process. Elected officials now have the opportunity to file a grievance about the proposed rate, she said.
If a grievance is filed, a committee made of randomly selected individuals who have served on a grand jury, will meet to determine what to present in the final budget, Watson said.
“Whatever the grievance committee decides is what will be included,” Watson said.
Watson said elected officials got a 4 percent raise in the 2008-2009 budget.