Commissioner McGinnis Files Affidavit Declining Pay Raise, Van Ness To Follow - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/28/08 - Tyler

Commissioner McGinnis Files Affidavit Declining Pay Raise, Van Ness To Follow

Commissioner Bill McGinnis of Precinct 2 released a statement today, explaining why he has signed an affadavit stating his intention to refuse phases two and three of the controversial Smith County Commissioner's Court pay raises.

His statement reads as follows:

'Last year I voted for the future of Smith County when I voted for the new employee pay plan. But, because that plan included a raise for the Commissioner's positions, including mine, that action has been politicized and distorted beyond all recognition of the Smith County Salary Committee's original intention. It has become a huge distraction at a time when this Court needs to focus all of its attention on critical issues such as the Jail project, roads and bridges, and addressing our aging county infrastructure. It also continues to remain an issue that I feel distracts greatly from the good works of this Court.

Therefore, last week, I filed an affidavit with our Auditor declining the second and third phases of the raise schedule. Although I will no doubt be criticized by some, I will continue to take the first phase of the raise. The reason is simple. I do this job full time and I have to have the resources to porperly do the job of serving my constituents. I am not independently wealthy, I don't have a business or another job and I don't plan to get one. As I promised in my campaign, this is the only obligation I have other than my family and my faith.

I appreciate our local legislators concern about the Commissioner pay issue. Indeed, it is their job, as it is mine, to respond to their constituents. However, I would like to suggest some things I would like to see addressed in addition to the recently proposed legislation. Things I feel have the potential of saving our Smith County citizens substatial tax dollars. I would like to see much more work done in Austin on eliminating the unfunded mandates that are passed on to Smith and other counties by the State. In these economic times, our citizens simply don't need Austin demanding things that will dig deeper in their pockets. I would like our local legislators to work with TXDOT to compel that agency to give our Sheriff's Department and other emergency vehicles free passage on Loop 49 instead of sending Smith County a toll bill. And, I would like to see an effort to explore creating an additional half-cent sales tax for counties that could be used for our infrastructure needs, similar to teh way cities are allowed to use theirs. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people come to the regional retail center that Smith County has become. They are utilizing our roads, our law enforcement, our jail, our court system, and other county services without ever having to pay a dime. Why should this added strain on our county resources be a further tax burden to our citizens?

As I said, my action to decline phase two and three of the salary plan is in response to the continued controversy and distraction this issue creates. I feel that by taking this action and putting this issue to rest, I can fully concentrate on the critical issues facing us and do a better job of serving the citizens of my precinct and Smith County.'

Commissioner Bobby Van Ness also announced this morning that he will be signing the affadavit.

Cathryn Khalil, reporting.

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