WAXAHACHIE — The Ellis County Commissioners Court reapproved the 2016-17 fiscal year budget again through a recorded vote on Monday. A second vote on the budget was called to have a clear record of the vote on file.
Commissioners held a vote on the budget at its regular meeting on Sept. 12, which passed with Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry voting in opposition. The new vote was called to have a clear audio recording, not as a recall vote.
“The vote was unclear to those that would be determined to be witnesses of it should there be a question. So the vote was unclear in audio. It is record vote. So, therefore, you have to have a record, and there was not a good record. That was the reason,” Perry said. “There was no reason other than the importance of what state law attaches to this being a record vote. To be a record vote it has to be clearly understood.”
Perry said he brought this issue to the attention of the county auditor, Mike Navarro, who would be responsible for asserting this as a recorded vote. The County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson as well as County Judge Carol Bush’s Special Projects Director, Sara Garcia, Perry said.
The budget passed by a 4-1 vote with Perry voting in opposition. Perry cited his previous reasons for voting against the budget that the budget process needs to be refined having more involvement with commissioners.
Before the vote, several residents voiced their opposition to a $70,165 raise for the county judge that was included in the proposed budget. The raise was approved by unanimously by a grievance committee on Sept. 9. Due to the unanimity, the increase for Bush goes directly into the budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year and does not require approval by the Ellis County Commissioners Court.
According to a Sept. 14 Daily Light article, the Texas Local Government Code does not outline an avenue for an appeal of a raise awarded unanimously by a grievance committee. The new fiscal year is set to begin Oct. 1. The committee is made up of nine Ellis County residents. Members are made up of people who have on the Ellis County Grand Jury. The names are then placed in a jar by County Clerk Cindy Polley and selected by Bush during a commissioner’s court meeting.
Resident Chris Moses told the court that the raise to the county judge salary is too high and does not match the population she works to oversee.
“Judge Bush I voted for you. There are four other people in my home that voted for you. Our commissioner we voted for him. If this is to happen, I can tell you there will be at least five votes in my house that will not vote for you. I can understand if you want an increase but this is just absurd,” Moses said. “It needs to try to fit the county of this size. She knew what the pay was when she took this position. So it wasn’t like it was a surprise to her. I would encourage you all to vote against this and send it back to do some research and find what the pay is for the county of this size for her position. Send it back to the grievance committee. This is just absurd.”
Resident Gary Teer shared Moses thoughts about the pay raise and felt that it is not warranted.
“I have been here 40 years in Ellis County. I have been a certified paramedic and firefighter for 13 years. I am not a politician, but I know the procedures that we have had to follow if we had a grievance. Having a job that you have and then running for reelection and won you knew what the price was for that job. You accepted that when you ran for reelection,” Teer said. “Now all of a sudden you say I missed judged this and needed more money. We know what our job pays when we apply for it. We accept that responsibility. My question is what has changed since your reelection that you deserve $70,000?”
According to the Sept. 14 Daily Light article, Bush stated that she brought this issue to the grievance committee to make the salary more in line with other elected and administrative positions within the county such as city managers. She added that this was an independent decision that was reached by the nine members unanimously.
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