On Tuesday afternoon, Dallas County Commissioners voted unanimously by voice vote not to raise their own salaries after a series of passionate public speeches by residents against a proposed two percent taxpayer-funded raise for the county judge, county commissioners, and other elected officials.
The commissioners currently make $170,137 annually and receive a monthly car allowance of $775. County Judge Clay Jenkins (D) makes $206,433 and also receives the same car allowance.
The vote followed comments by several Dallas County residents characterizing the proposed salary increases as “highly irresponsible,” “unconscionable,” as well as “inappropriate and insensitive.”
No one spoke in favor of the taxpayer-funded raises.
Commissioner Theresa Daniel (D) pointed out that their own salaries were not the only ones the commissioners court was considering.
“I am sorry for the other elected officials who this vote impacts,” Daniel said.
The elected officials Daniel referenced all earn more than $133,000 a year and also receive monthly car allowances of $579 or more. They include constables and justices of the peace, as well as the county clerk, sheriff, treasurer, district clerk, and tax assessor collector.
Commissioner J.J. Koch (R) indicated that he wanted to “give credit where credit is due” and thanked Daniel for changing her mind on the raises.
Koch said that he was glad Daniel respected how poor the “optics” of a salary increase would have been.
“It’s a little bit more than optics,” Daniel retorted.
It’s not the first time Dallas County Commissioners have voted down a salary increase for themselves and other elected officials, which they also did in August 2019.
After that decision, a “salary grievance committee” was empaneled and fourteen elected officials asserted to the committee that they deserved raises, including Daniel and Commissioner John Wiley Price (D).
In September 2019, the commissioners reversed their August 2019 decision by a vote of 2-0. Daniel and Price voted to give themselves a raise while Jenkins, Koch, and Commissioner Elba Garcia (D) abstained.
On Sunday, Gov. Greg Abbott and Jenkins quibbled over the agenda item on social media.
“Tell [Jenkins] that the LAST thing he should do is give himself and other Dallas County elected officials a pay raise. He stands to make more than $200,000 a year,” Abbott tweeted.
“Seriously?” Jenkins replied.
“[Gov. Abbott], if you paid attention you’d know I was the one who forced elected official salaries to be a separate vote from other employees, have never voted for these in term increases and don’t take them when the majority passes them over my objection. Focus on [COVID-19].”
Kim Roberts contributed to this report.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.