Last week this segment challenged the Smith County Commissioner's recent decision to give themselves a pay raise. In fairness I invited Smith County judge Joel Baker to respond. Although he declined the invitation to appear as a guest commentator he did offer this response.More >>
For several months now, I've used this forum to express opinion on issues that effect East Texans. I've also shared some of your opinions sent to me by mail or email. Today, we hear from former Smith County Commissioner, David SteinMore >>
One Smith county commissioner does not feel its right for the commissioner's court to give themselves a raise. Commissioner JoAnn Fleming has said that while she supports the raises for employees and other elected officials she feels the county commissioners should exclude themselves. Mrs. Fleming has voted against the raise for Commissioners from the get go... and now adds that since the vote was taken, members of the Smith County public are contacting her, saying they're on her side. In fact, you heard from one of those people opposing the raise, right here in this forum.
At the same time, Smith County Judge Joel Baker and newly elected Commissioner Bill McGinnis say they are unaware of any significant ill feelings among Smith County residents.
So how do Smith County residents really feel? Write me at a better east Texas at kltv.com and I will make sure Judge Baker and every member of the commissioner's court gets your letter. These folks were elected by you to represent you. Taking the time to give them your opinion will make this a better east Texas.
I think it's ridiculous that anyone should be in a position to give or even vote on giving themselves a raise. This is especially true for public servants as they are aware of the pay scale when they are seeking their office. I am completely against this raise and if the parties affected don't like it, they should look for work elsewhere.
I think it is a slap in the face to the residents of Tyler and Smith County for the people that are elected by the these residents to give them self this kind of raise. There are a lot of seniors on fixed income trying to pay taxes just to take care of the raises that these "servants" have voted for them self. Thank you KLTV for bringing this to light.
In a time when Smith County's debt is 16 million dollars, and when we continue to spend thousands of dollars every day to transport jail prisoners to and from other counties there is no way Judge Baker and the County Commissioners can justify a pay raise of up to 30 percent, nor do they deserve it at this point in time. When we still have dilapidated facilities such as the Cottonbelt building, the exisiting Court House (what an eyesore), and a hodgepodge of jail facilities, and when we have inadequate staffing in the Sheriff's department as well as the local Counstables and Justice of Peace offices, and when the previous County Judge and Commissioner's Court as well as the present Judge and Court members have as of this date failed to develop a realistic plan for solving the numerous problems mentioned above there is no justification for the pay raise they seem determined to get from we the "Bosses" (taxpayers). They need to look at the City of Tyler Mayor and Council who !
have far greater departments, and staffing to oversee yet each of them serves without pay. The City uses for the most part the qualified people they have on staff to develop long range plans to solve the problems of today and tomorrow, and they became a model for other cities with the 1/2 cent sales tax and the use of all available State and Federal grants and other resources to pay as they go. Smith County should be no different in approaching the existing problems and in planning for the future.
I do however support up to 30 percent pay raises for the unelected county employees as they certainly deserve it. All the elected officials knew what the job paid before they filed to run for office. It is high time the taxpayer was given the right to vote "yea or nay" on raises for our elected officials whether Federal, State, or Smith County.
Voting themselves a substantial raise is thumbing their noses at the people of Smith County who work every day just to make a living. Most of us do not ever get that kind of a raise, and some of us Seniors live on a fixed income. They will raise our taxes to pay themselves this raise and I for one resent it terribly. When the elected officials ran for office they knew what the salary was, and it hasn't even been a year for Judge Joe Baker. I don't think he deserves a raise and I would like to see them live on the same income we have to.
So I say: No jail bond will pass if this raise goes through, where is all the money going to come from? Maybe the elected officials should pay for the jail themselves. That would be a big boon for Tyler.