After a committee appointed by the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to review a proposed salary increase amid backlash from the community recommended that elected officials pay not be raised, commissioners voted to accept the recommendation and not increase their own salaries above the cost of living.
Making over $164,000 a year, Montgomery County Commissioners are among the highest paid in the state. However, commissioners proposed to give themselves a 10% raise last year which County Judge Craig Doyal claimed was based on a survey performed a few years ago. Doyal backtracked after facing widespread opposition to the proposal by taxpayers, and the court opted only for a 3% cost of living increase.
The Commissioners then appointed a committee to review elected officials salaries and make recommendations on future increases above the cost of living. Doyal and each commissioner selected an individual from their precinct to serve on the committee. Many citizens criticized the lack of impartiality in how the committee was selected, expressing their concerns that commissioners were hand selecting a committee to raise their salaries.
The committee reviewed the salaries of commissioners in counties similar to Montgomery in size and population. According to the U.S. Census bureau, Montgomery County is the 11th most populous county in Texas, however, among county judges, Doyal’s salary ranks fourth in the state. The salaries of commissioners in Montgomery are second only to Harris.
Of the counties selected in the committee’s report, Montgomery County commissioners have the highest salary, receiving 11 to 52 percent more than the other counties according to committee member Diane Bass. Presenting their report at commissioners court, Bass stated, “Once we calculated where Montgomery County salaries fall relative to those counties, we contacted each of our elected officials and invited them to submit a statement regarding why a higher-than-average salary might be justified.”
Although the committee noted that Montgomery County has the most unincorporated area of any similar county, they did not feel a pay raise was justified this year. The committee’s report was unanimously accepted by the commissioners present.