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It’s budget time for Milam County

This is the time of the year most elected officials will tell you they dread the most, yet it is their most important function – The Budget. When I took office, I planned to work on the budget more during the year in a long-term manner. For many years, the department heads would bring their budgets to the court in early July, the Judge and the Auditor would work on the budget and once the tax numbers came in, they would fine tune it to match the income that was available.

Since coming into office, and even before, we worked up a large spreadsheet that shows the last eight years and then the year to come. Once we populate that spreadsheet, each of the county department heads come in and we discuss their budgets, what they need, what they want, and what they can live with. Honestly, your Milam County Department Heads have been outstanding working with us to determine what’s necessary, and then what’s reasonable for them to not only continue on at a high-level, but to also better utilize their existing resources to better serve Milam County.

Recently, I was asked how we justify or quantify our salary structure. In the case of law-enforcement, we have to somewhat compete with the larger counties that are still making up for the flawed decision by larger counties like Harris, Travis, and Bexar known as “Defund the Police.” After those same counties realized what a miserable mistake that was, they then had to go out and FUND the Police, which in turn caused a ripple effect where those counties had to pay more to recruit Law Enforcement. This meant that larger, more well-funded police agencies began to poach officers from other agencies and eventually smaller counties like Milam County began to feel the pinch when our own officers were recruited to bigger counties and bigger paychecks.

Coming into office I knew that the overall county pay-scale was not the greatest in the area, and quite honestly, many folks could make more if they worked outside of county government, so we have worked on that pay structure to improve wages, but we have also worked to improve benefits while keeping the costs down for taxpayers. It’s a tight rope for most counties as many times the benefits package is what works to retain personnel just as much as wages. 

One change we made that most county employees are happy with is our healthcare plan. Many have told me that through the use of the NonStop card they can now afford preventative care that they didn’t really get before we switched plans. This has been a big benefit for many of our employees and their families. 

But on to the non-law-enforcement salaries, when we took office last January, Milam County employees over all (elected officials included) were generally paid far less than their peers in our surrounding counties of similar populations (Lee, Burleson, Robertson, etc.). 

Since taking office we have done a deep dive into the 10 closest counties with similar demographics to determine what the average salaries are in this area and what we have to do to be on average. Most salaries were below average; a couple were above average, and some were average; but overall, most were below average. So, we began to address those issues last year with a fairly modest adjustment to the salaries of all the County’s employees and we will work to make improvements where we can as well to put us on a path to where we stay current with the averages of our local peers.

Budget time is a tough time for elected officials, but this is what we ran for office to do. It is hard, but it’s necessary to make sure we all have the services and infrastructure we need for a safe and orderly life. Hopefully this provides a little insight into what we are doing here with the budget, but come late July and August, we will hold our Public Hearings throughout the county to discuss the budget and I look forward to discussing this all with you all. See You Soon!!

The Cameron Herald

The Cameron Herald
P.O. Box 1230
Cameron, Texas 76520

Phone: 254-697-6671
Fax: 254-697-4902