Raises for two Jim Wells County Justices of the Peace and two Constables were approved in the amount over $16,000 Wednesday during Commissioner's Court.
Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Sylvia Johnson and Precinct 5 Luz Paiz, Constable Precinct 4 Frank Davila and Precinct 5 Robert Vasquez filed a grievance to increase their salary or travel allowance.
On Tuesday, the grievances were heard before the grievance committee and were voted 6 to 0 in favor of the request. Because the number of votes from the grievance committee, the grievances were than taken in front of the Commissioners' Court.
New salaries for JP Johnson went from $38,151 in 2018 to $42,151 in 2019. JP Paiz went from $55,486 in 2018 to $58,486 in 2019. Constable Davila and Vasquez's travel allowance was $11,600 in 2018 to $15,600 in 2019.
County Judge Pete Trevino, told the court they had $29,046.44 left in the 2019 JWC budget and if they passed the requests by the Justice of the Peaces and the Constables they would be left with $3,863.56 in the red.
According to Judge Trevino and Commissioner Precinct 1 Margie Gonzalez, they want to have the balanced budget.
With the raises approved, the county is currently left with $12,172 in the black for the 2019 JWC Budget.
Each grievance stated that the salaries and travel allowances have been “unfair” even though they all do the same work, depending on what is filed in their precinct.
Paiz, whose been a JP for 19 years, asked for an increase of $3,000.
Johnson, whose been a JP for 15 years, asked for an increase of $9,849.
Davila requested for a salary increase of $2,946 and his travel allowance to be increased by $6,600.
Vasquez requested an increase in his travel allowance of $6,600.
Both Vasquez and Davila claim the increase of $6,600 is to match the travel allowance of Constable Precinct 6 Bartolo Guajardo Jr.
“The argument seems, and it has been for years, that they don't make the same,” said Commissioner Precinct 4 Emede Garcia. “There's a couple of them that make $15,000 more than the other. They all have the same responsibilities. They all have the same titles and elected by their people...”
“We have to try to fix something that is supposedly unfair from the beginning...,” Judge Trevino said. “It's very difficult to decipher through all that (they do) and say 'Hey, this is fair, this is not fair.'”
In the end, Commissioner Precinct 2 Ventura Garcia made a recommendation that JP Paiz should get the $3,000, she asked for, towards her salary, JP Johnson would get a $4,000 increase to her salary, Constable Davila and Vasquez would get a increase of $4,000 each to their travel allowance plus infringes.
Davila's salary increase was denied.
“All we are trying to do is create a balanced budget,” Ventura said. “Maybe next year's budget hearing we can equal ( everyone).”
The Commissioners approved the 2019 JWC Budget after the raises were made.