JP could get $4K pay increase

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Jim Wells County Correspondent

The Jim Wells County salary grievance committee agreed to recommend a $4,000 salary increase for Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Sylvia Johnson.

Their recommendation was taken before the commissioner's court during its next regular meeting Monday for consideration in the 2008 budget.

Committee members met Sept. 5, with eight of 10 members attending. Participants included County Tax Accessor-Collector Lucila Reynolds, District Clerk R. David Guerrero, public members Armando Martinez and J.J. Arrispe, County Attorney Jesusa Sanchez Vera, County Clerk Ruben Sandoval, Sheriff Oscar Lopez and County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz.

Johnson's salary, at $27,895, is $10,000 less than Pct. 5 JP Luz Paiz's base salary and nearly $12,000 less than Pct. 6 JP Jose Rodriguez's base salary. Johnson's request was to be brought up to $32,000.

Paperwork provided by Johnson's office shows the number of cases in her precinct have doubled in the last five years, from 276 in criminal and civil cases in 2003 to 465 cases so far in 2007. Her precinct's revenue has also more than tripled in that time, from $12,596 in 2003 to $43,588 so far in 2007.

Vera said that numerous times Johnson has called her, both at night and on the weekends, concerning her work in her precinct. Johnson said to the court that as JP, she is on the job 24/7.

"I can say that she has called me, both at night and on the weekends, to find the best way to help her constituents," Vera said.

Johnson's JP office is connected to her business in Premont, and she said she handles her duties at all hours, including when at her business.

Sandoval said after looking at the paperwork provided, her office has remained steady on collections, and Lopez commented that when dealing with his office and his officers in the area, that Johnson has always done well for his department.

"She's always been fair, and she's always done well for us," Lopez said. "She deserves a raise of $4,000. She definitely deserves it."