Elected officials not getting pay raises; employees getting 3 to 6 percent raise

Sue Fleming, Duval County Correspondent

Duval County Judge Abel Aragon gave a review of the proposed 2007-2008 county budget during a special workshop last Thursday morning in San Diego.

By law, deadline for approval of the county budget by County Commissioners is Oct. 1.

"As county judge, it is my responsibility to keep the county solid," Aragon said. "It's a difficult task but I want to be fair to everybody."

According to the proposed budget figures, the beginning balance shows a total of $8,539,951 with expenditures totaling $10,563,636.

The fund balance shows a projected balance of $3,685,654, covering the more than $2 million deficit.

Figures were calculated on a tax rate of $1.02 per $100 evaluation, Aragon said, close to last year's tax rate of $1.03 with the rollback tax rate the same at $1.1014.

"I didn't want taxes to be increased," he said, "They're almost the same as last year's which is good."

Cost of living pay raises proposed for employees range from three to six percent, he said.

Aragon maintained pay increases were not proposed for elected officials.

"I talked to each official and most were understanding and were accepting of this," he said. "Not all were agreeable, but I'd say about 96 percent were."

Last year, elected officials received pay increases that ranged from six to 10 percent, records show.

Aragon said monies have been set aside to help meet the needs of the county. Such needs include courthouse repairs, road repairs, landfill concerns and jail renovations.

New county positions were also recommended by Aragon and include an election administrator to oversee county elections and a county record manager, someone to manage stored records.

Commander Romeo Ramirez of the Central South Texas Criminal Investigation Unit addressed the commissioners before the conclusion of the meeting, requesting funding in the amount of $40,000 to pay for a full-time secretary.

The investigation unit, which covers three counties including Duval, receives no funding from the state to help pay for secretarial positions, he said. In order to pay a full-time secretary, insurance coverage would need to be provided as well. Attending the meeting were commissioners Gilberto Uribe, Rene Perez, Alejo Garcia Jr. and Nestor Garza Jr.