Old Sayings Retirement Home No. 18

Collin County Comm. Jack Hatchell

Yes, it does indeed seem like déjà vu all over again. The more things change, the more they remain the same. The more things change, the more they remain things. Whatever.

Here I am back in Collin County, Texas, without a job, just as I was 15 months ago. Meanwhile, the Collin County Commissioners have voted themselves a pay raise. How is that familiar? Well, it just so happens that in the county I left, Jefferson County, the commissioners there also decided to raise their own salaries.

Now perhaps you might think that the 6 percent pay raise Collin County’s ruling board approved by a 3-2 margin isn’t a big salary hike. That would be true in most cases. It certainly isn’t as large as the 17.2 percent raise they first proposed. Commissioner Jack Hatchell had the decency to make a motion for the tentative 6 percent compromise raise for the commissioners court and adding a 2 percent salary hike for other county officials.

Jefferson County commissioners tenatively approved an 18 percent raise for themselves and a 5 percent raise for the county judge.

The rationale for the raises in these two counties appears to be the added stress and strain on commissioners in governing larger Texas counties. Officials in Jefferson County — with a population of about 231,000 — decided to base their prospective raises on an average of counties with like sizes. Commissioners in Collin County, with more than a half-million residents, feel their salary should be about 90 percent of neighboring Dallas County commissioners.

So should local government officials be paid based on population? Obviously some pros and cons exist. It seems as if the larger the population, the bigger the increase of time expended by that official. And like Yogi Berra (or was it Ben Franklin?) said: “Time is money.”

Jefferson County Comm. Bo Alfred

At least Jefferson County Commissioner Bo Alfred had the novel idea that the county’s governing council should be paid more than other county officials because they take more s**t from residents.

But do you suppose the Collin County commissioners will perform 6 percent more work if they get a raise? And what about Alfred and his fellow court members in Jefferson County? Do you see them hopping up and doing 18 percent more than what they have been doing?

Neither set of raises are carved into stone as of yet. So the residents of these two counties — one in North Central Texas and the other on the Gulf Coast — need to do a little “Hmmm” -ing and figure out whether this is a sound move. Will higher salaries attract higher-caliber candidates? Will the increased pay lead to a more efficient government? I have my theories. But I will keep them to myself. I just say it’s all a case of the same things only they are different.

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