Dallas commissioners approve increase for county employees and elected officials in split vote

After initially rejecting the increases for elected officials and county employees, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted on Tuesday to approve a 3.3% pay increase.

Last week, the court rejected a 2% increase despite nine elected officials who filed salary grievances with the county.

But a separate committee last week recommended granting the raise to those nine officials, including Commissioners Theresa Daniel and John Wiley Price.

When that recommendation was presented to the full court on Tuesday, commissioners were divided over whether to approve the increases. Some wanted to give a raise to employees, but not to civil servants.

The recommendation to approve the 2% increase for only the nine officials did not receive a second motion and failed.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins previously said he was not voting for elected officials’ salary increases, but suggested a 3.3% increase from Jan. 1 to keep up with inflation for employees . He said the total cost of the increases would be around $ 4.5 million, but elected officials only make up a small portion of that total.

“All this talk about elected officials,” Jenkins said, “we’re talking about $ 40,000.”

Jenkins’ amendment passed 3-2, with Commissioners JJ Koch and Elba Garcia voting against the increase. Garcia verbally supported giving a raise to employees – especially those earning less than $ 60,000 a year – but blocked efforts to give elected officials one.

“I think this sends a terrible message to our taxpayers,” Garcia said. “I want a 2% increase for the employees, but I cannot support this for the elected officials.”

Koch also criticized Jenkins’ suggestion of a 3.3% increase, saying city staff, commissioners and the public should be notified before the vote.

“Nobody knew that except him, I guess,” Koch said Tuesday afternoon. “I didn’t understand it. It is irresponsible in many ways.

Parkland budget, approved tax rate

The court also voted on Tuesday to adopt a $ 2.3 billion budget for Parkland Health & Hospital System – up from $ 2.4 billion last year – and a new tax rate for the hospital district. of Dallas County. The new tax rate is about one cent lower than last year, at 25.5 cents per $ 100 of assessed property value.

According to Parkland, lowering the tax rate is possible because they expect a 7% increase in taxable assessments.

“This budget looks good,” Garcia said. “I like that they lowered the tax rate while keeping the services.”

Price, who openly criticized the hospital system’s approach to equity and diversity, cast the only vote against the budget. He repeatedly pointed to an incident in December 2020 when a supervisor gave vacation gifts depicting sock monkeys to black employees, and said on Tuesday that there were no black men among senior executives. of Parkland.

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