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Piece of Mind: Rockwall County Goes All-in For Commissioners’ Pay

Members of the Rockwall County Commisioners Court awarded themselves a hefty raise.
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Members of the Rockwall County Commisioners Court awarded themselves a hefty raise.

I stumbled upon an item in the Dallas Morning News online edition that, to be honest, made my jaw drop damn near into my lap.

Dave Lieber writes a feature for the DMN called "The Watchdog" and he reports that the Rockwall County Commissioners Court voted themselves a 23 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. Moreover, the county judge -- who presides over the entire Commissioners Court -- received a 24 percent increase.

That, my friends, is one hell of a nice increase in pay.

Did the commissioners deserve it? Hah! I'd be willing to wager they didn't deserve that kind of pay raise. But they granted themselves the huge increase anyhow.

What in the name of fiscal responsibility gives in Rockwall County?

The raises were steep across the board as they relate to other elected officials. All of them got gigantic raises. I am left to wonder: Did the sheriff's deputy, or the county road maintenance employee, or the custodian get that kind of pay raise? Ohhhh, probably not!

Here's some more news: Elected officials in neighboring counties received raises totaling a fraction of the amount of what was handed out in Rockwall County.

Oh, by the way, there is one elected official who emerges as a hero, according to The Watchdog. Commissioner Cliff Sevier voted against the pay increase.

If only there were more of them serving the people of Rockwall County.

Were the officials in Rockwall County underpaid? Did commissioners seek only to bring their salaries more competitive? Leiber writes: I hate to bring this up, but according to a salary survey by the Texas Association of Counties, when you compare Rockwall to counties of a similar size, your county was already in the top tier of salaries.

Well, at least Rockwall County residents who likely didn't get raises that come close to what commissioners granted themselves, have an option they can pursue. They can vote these commissioners out of office.

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.

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