Washington County is set to give out more than $300,000 in employee pay raises in 2019.
Some of the people who approved the budget said they didn’t even know about the raises before giving the green light.
In the Washington County Quorum Court meeting Tuesday night, January 8, District 9 Justice of the Peace Eva Madison claims the raises were “snuck” into the budget without being discussed.
In December 2018 all members of the Quorum Court approved the 2019 budget.
But Madison said the court’s Chair did not tell them about the changes made before approval.
Former Quorum Court Chair Bill Ussery said he knew about the additional raises, but didn’t know the other members weren’t told about the updates.
Madison said after a county employee, who did not receive a raise, tipped her off about the situation. s
She requested a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get answers for herself.
Madison said she found 40 people on Judge Joseph Wood’s staff are down to receive a three percent pay increase.
One employee is set to receive a 36 percent raise.
Tuesday night at the meeting Madison asked Wood to disclose this new information to the public, but he declined and said the budget was already passed.
“I don’t think we’ve passed them because I think part of the process is that the quorum court has to know that they’re being proposed and vote on them and the final budget that we passed, they have never been discussed,” said Madison.
Judge Wood said he did submit the final budget to the Quorum Court on November 13.
He adds, “Washington County has great employees that deserve to be fairly compensated by their elected officials. The JPs understood and acknowledged this by approving the elected officials’ budgets which included the pay raises.”
Madison said she has reached out to lawyers in the area to figure how they can reverse these changes and make it fair for everyone.
Judge Joseph Wood’s full statement is below:
I submitted the budget for my departments to the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee on November 13th, via the County Comptroller. This was two days before the meeting of the Finance and Budget Committee to discuss the same. JP Eva Madison claims to have missed this in the budget while other JP’S reviewed all of our budgets and voted to approve.
All elected officials are required to submit their budget requests to the Chairperson of the Finance and Budget Committee for review and approval by the Quorum Court. Once these requests are submitted, only the Quorum Court may approve and amend budgets.
The purpose of the raises were similar to that of the Sheriff – we needed to adjust for market value and create competitive rates for the positions that see continued turnover, and to pay our employees comparable rates to other governmental bodies.
The budget cuts that I made this year exceed the amount given in raises. Washington County has great employees that deserve to be fairly compensated by their elected officials. The JPs understood and acknowledged this by approving the elected officials’ budgets which included the pay raises.