Here is the audio excerpt from the August 6th Commissioners Court “workshop” on the budget.
At 3 hours and 19 minutes into the “workshop”, Commissioner Bodeker puts in a request for the Judge’s salary to be raised $20,000. That’s right — $20,000. According to the Hill County 2013 approved budget published at https://tools.cira.state.tx.us, Judge Lewis’ salary is $51,838.00. A $20,000 pay raise is a 38% plus pay raise. Really!!!
Rightly so, some of the commissioners politely say that they cannot support such a request, yet Commissioner Bodeker insists that the court entertain a $20,000 pay raise for the judge. The court’s response to the suggested $20,000 pay raise is dead silence.
Interestingly, Judge Justin Lewis argues for the pay raise himself and that argument is based on the premise that to be a “good” County Judge you need to have a law degree. However, here is a quote from the Texas Courts Online (http://www.courts.state.tx.us) that completely refutes his argument, as Hill County has a County Court At Law presided over by Judge Lee Harris. Additionally, Hill County has an elected position of County Attorney, currently David Holmes, that assists the County Commissioners Court in legal matters.
“In addition to performing judicial functions, the county judge serves as the administrative head of the county government. In the more populated counties, the administrative duties occupy most of the time of the county judge, and the Legislature has created county courts at law and statutory probate courts to relieve the county judge of most, and in some cases all, of the judicial duties usually performed by that office.”