By Tony Farkas
GROVETON — Several departments sought to improve pay disparities and request raises be put into the county budget during recent budget hearings.
At the July 11 Trinity County Commissioners Court meeting, both the precincts’ constables and justices of the peace sought to get increases in pay to levels approaching other similar positions in the county.
For instance, Constable Brian McMullen told commissioners that the base pay for his position is $23,712, which is lower than the national poverty level.
Additionally, his duties are almost identical to a deputy sheriff, which is $34,000 per year for entry level officers.
McMullen requested that constable pay be increased 8.4 percent, roughly $2,000 apiece.
For the JPs, Precinct 1 JP Mary Wallace requested that pay for that office be made commensurate with other county elected officials. Currently, the position pays $32,850 annually, while other officials, such as the commissioners and the county clerk and tax assessor/collector, are paid $46,029.
Wallace said that at the current pay level, the JPs are being paid less that some clerks working for the county.
She also asked that because of current workloads and backlogs, the clerks for each JP need to be made full-time employees instead of part-time.
All departments requested increases in postage to compensate for hikes in postal rates.
In a separate matter, the county delayed action on contracting ambulance service for the Groveton area.
County Judge Danny Martin said that of the three firms that submitted proposals at a county meeting, only two had submitted contracts for review, and he wanted to delay a decision for two weeks until the third came in and County Attorney Colton Hay had a chance to review them.
Commissioner Tommy Park expressed concern that the county was allowing bids to come in after the original three had been presented, which was illegal; since the matter was a contract concern, he said that half of his precinct has no ambulance service, and if one firm didn’t send one in, that’s not the county’s concern.
Park voted against tabling the measure, which passed 4-1.
In other business, the county:
•approved personnel action forms;
•appointed Nancy Shanafelt as designated representative to the Deep East Texas Rural Transportation Planning Organization; and
•approved an agreement with Lubbock County for public defender services in capital cases.