Conroe, July 6 – The Board of District Judges emphatically rejected County Auditor Phyllis Martin’s request for a pay raise and voted to keep her salary the same, regardless of whether every other employee in Montgomery County’s government receives a cost of living pay raise or not. The vote, which occurred during the Board’s meeting on Friday, June 30, in the Montgomery County Courthouse, was unanimous.
On the motion of 9th District Judge Phil Grant, the Board voted four to zero to hold Martin’s $145,564 per year salary the same. During the discussion, 418th District Judge Tracy Gilbert asked Grant whether he intended to allow Martin a cost of living pay raise if all other County employees receive one. Grant responded, “my motion intends to keep her salary where it is.”
Martin had asked the Board to reconsider her salary and compared herself to county auditors in significantly larger counties, including Travis County (Austin) and Bexar County (San Antonio), both of which are more than double the size of Montgomery County in population. In her written presentation to the Board, Martin had failed to note that Montgomery County was one of only a small few of the counties in the comparison that did not have a Certified Public Accountant as the County Auditor. Montgomery County’s Auditor’s Office does not even have a CPA on its entire staff of 26 employees. That’s a significant problem, because on June 15, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott signed legislation into law that requires counties to follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which Montgomery County has generally failed to follow under Martin.
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack offered the following:
“Our County Courts of Law and District Judges run some of the leanest and most productive departments in the county. Your dedication and efficiency is noticed and appreciated.
“I understand the auditor is under your authority and respect any decision made.
“I believe the auditor is fairly compensated and that the auditor/budget officer should be leading the charge to reduce county spending, including her own department; like each of you have — not only now but through the years.
“I’d hoped all non-law enforcement related departments would be reducing their budgets when the tax payers are looking for relief.”
One striking aspect of the discussion among the four District Judges who attended the meeting was how well prepared all of them were for the meeting. It was very apparent that Judge Grant, Judge Gilbert, 410th District Judge Jennifer Robin, and 359th District Judge Kathleen Hamilton had all read the written materials for the meeting carefully beforehand, in marked contrast the lack of preparation that one observes at a Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting.
Judge Robin was critical of the comparison of Montgomery County’s Auditor to those in Travis and Bexar counties, because those local governments are significantly larger than the Montgomery County government.
Another issue which arose in the meeting was that Martin requested $5,000 to conduct a salary study of the 26 individuals in her department. County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw told the Board that her department was “certainly capable” of conducting such a salary study. Nevertheless, the Board acquiesced to Martin’s request to hire an outside firm to prepare the study.