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While most politicians raise their own bloated salaries at almost any opportunity, an official in Montgomery County is doing the opposite. One of newly elected County Judge Mark Keough’s first acts in office will be to cut his own salary.

Keough has placed an item on the commissioners court agenda for his first meeting in office, January 8, to reduce the county judge’s annual salary from $174,778 to $153,814. The reduction totals out to $20,964, or 13.6 percent.

Cutting his salary was something Keough mentioned repeatedly on the campaign trail, and he went to unseat an incumbent who had voted to raise his salary.

The county judge’s chief of staff, Jason Millsaps, will also be taking a pay cut. He will receive an annual salary of $108,000, as opposed to the $121,723 salary the previous judge’s chief of staff was making — a reduction of 11.2 percent.

Under Keough’s predecessor, Montgomery County had the third-highest paid county judge in the state, behind only Harris and Dallas counties. The cut will bring Montgomery County into line with similarly sized counties such as Galveston ($167,400), Collin ($150,042), Fort Bend ($135,951), Denton ($135,470), and Williamson ($117,795). Although Montgomery County still trends towards the higher end of those comparable suburban counties, the county judge will no longer be making a salary in line with much larger major urban counties as in the past.

Montgomery County commissioners remain among the highest paid in the state at $173,872 a year. Unless they also volunteer to take a pay cut, they will be making more than the county judge, who is over the entire county. None of the commissioners so far have indicated that they will lower their salary.

While it will take a lot more than cutting his salary to fix Montgomery County’s massive spending problem, it is a huge step in the right direction and gives Keough the moral authority to go to other departments and slash wasteful government spending throughout county government.

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