SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County’s proposed $2.8 billion budget includes pay increases for both employees and elected officials, though at least two officials have already said they won’t be taking the money.
The budget proposal county staff presented to Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday is roughly $1 billion more than the previous year, which staff attributed to the $389 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and a new $616 million infrastructure plan.
The county plans to keep the current property tax rate in place, though increased property values could still boost property owners’ bills. This would be the 27th year the county has either lowered or maintained its property tax rate.
The proposed budget includes 5% pay bumps for employees as well as certain elected officials. Non-exempt employees, which are typically hourly workers, would also get a $1,000 lump sum payment, though Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebecca Clay-Flores asked about increasing the lump sums.
“It’s really been two years since most employees will have seen a pay increase. This recognizes that the last 12 months, the national inflation rate has been 5%, as calculated by the federal government,” said County Manager David Smith.
According to a staff presentation, the employee pay increases would cost $15.5 million and the the lump sums would cost $2.7 million.
In addition, 18 elected officials like the sheriff, district attorney, constables, and justices of the peace would also receive a 5% pay raise. The exception would be Precinct 1, Place 2 Justice of the Peace Ciro Rodriguez, who would have his pay cut in half to reflect a part-time salary.
The estimated cost of the changes, including salary and benefits, is just over $62,000, according to county documents. The change would put all of the officials’ salaries, except Rodriguez’s, into the six-figures, ranging from $104,958 for the constables to $180,427 for the county judge.
District and county court judges are not included in the pay raise, as Smith said the state legislature sets the maximum salary for them.
The commissioners voted to get the ball rolling on the elected officials’ raises during Tuesday’s meeting, but each official will have the chance to decline the raise, which Precinct 3 Commissioner Trish DeBerry said she planned to do.
“I‘m OK with 5% across the board for essential workers and county employees, because a lot of them have been coming in and doing work during the pandemic. I just don’t think it’s the appropriate time, considering the salaries that elected officials make and those in seats of power make, including myself, now’s not the time for an increase. So I declined it,” DeBerry said.
Sheriff Javier Salazar also posted a message on Tuesday saying he was declining the raise.
County Commissioners are expected to vote on the budget on Sept. 14.