Pay compromise for Wilco jailers

Starting pay for a Williamson County jailer is currently at $32,775. That's less than what is offered in smaller counties like Burnet and Bastrop. Tuesday, Williamson County commissioners approved a 4% pay increase for first year corrections officers.

The vote, which now sets starting pay at just over $34,000, was part of a compromise. County Judge Dan Gattis considers it to be fair and not a budget buster.

"I would have went a percent less, personally, just looking at where I know all of the other expenses we've got. But it's a good motion, a good compromise," said Judge Gattis.

Corrections officers are currently paid on a fix scale with built in raises that stop after 18 years on the job. The county had originally proposed only a 2% pay hike for the new budget year. The bump up to 4% was not considered a victory by those representing the jailers.

"The cost of living for Georgetown, Texas is higher than Burnet County. It's higher than Bell County. It's higher than Hays County, and right now they've offered no cost of living adjustment to the pay scale that's going to put us within market of the salaries in the area and adjust for the cost of living," said Brian Johns with the Williamson County Deputies Association.

The jailers argued for a 10% pay increase. It's believed that amount is needed to put them on par with other counties that have similar populations. When negotiations heated up it was said a fast food worker in Georgetown made more money but after the compromise was approved there was some backtracking on that.

"On most cases, yes, they're hiring probably closer to minimum wage but because of the Austin market there is a higher cost of living here, which is some of the things our employees in Williamson County are suffering from. They're also paying at other establishments whether they be fast food restaurants or other businesses. They're paying higher rates to bring people in," said Noel Johnson with the TMPA.

As part of the vote, bailifs will get a 5% increase as part of a salary adjustment plan. Pay increases were also approved for elected county officials. The amount for them was set at 2%

Judge Gattis warned another pay debate is coming after the new sheriff takes office. Gattis wants to move away from the fixed pay scheduled and look into adopting a merit pay scale.

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