Earlier this week we reported on one member of the Quorum court who claims those raises were “snuck” in.
We sat down with Judge Wood Friday morning who said the mistake here was simply people not reading the budget.
“I was notified of it shortly after Christmas that about $319,000 in raises had been included in the budget that I wasn’t aware of and I think many other JPs weren’t aware of them,” said Washington County Quorum Court Member, Eva Madison
Employees of Washington County Judge Joseph Wood’s staff are set to receive raises equaling over $300,000.
But Justice Of The Peace Eva Madison said she was never told about them before giving the green light.
“That’s why we have a finance and budget meeting for them to review and go over. That’s why we post it all online, for the public to see all of that,” said Washington County Judge Joseph Wood.
Judge Wood said he submitted his final 2019 budget in November.
According to Former Quorum Court Chair Bill Ussery all members of the Quorum Court are told to look at the budget and ask question before approving, but none were raised.
“The way we did our budget this year is that we discussed the things that pertinent but the list was out there of all the changes, of all the different budget items for everybody to look at,” said Former Washington County Quorum Court Chair, Bill Ussery.
“We have to rely on staff and the chair of the committee and the Judge to be open with us, and I think that was the mistake in thinking that you could trust people to bring issues to your attention,” said Madison.
All employees in the Judge’s Department received a three percent raise.
50 employees received over that.
The highest, 36 percent for the Director Of Animal Shelters.
However despite the raises the Judge’s Department decreased their budget for 2019.
According to the Quorum Court rules, any department who decreases their budget by at least three percent does not have to meet with its members before approval.
“We looked at our departments, our vacancies, we looked at market rates and submitted those to our JPs, our finance and budget for them to review,” said Wood.
Budgets are posted online and available for both the public and members of the court to look at.
Ussery said if questions were raised by any members they would have been answered.
“That amount was on there, was clearly added to the budget mid November. If it had been asked earlier, we certainly would have addressed it,” said Ussery.
Now Madison said she just wants answers and to make things right.
“I think that when you’re talking about the expenditure of tax payer dollars in a manner like this that the public deserves to know about it ahead of time and talk about it openly, and that just didn’t happen here,” said Madison.
We reached out to other members of the Quorum Court.
Some said they did not know about the excessive raises but had access to the budget before approval and could have found the information.