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Commissioners approves raises for the court members who win the next election

By Michael Cole

The Orange Leader

 

Pay Raises, Suicide, and a mysterious EDC project dominated the last Wednesday regular meeting of the Court. All future meetings will be at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Lane Fortentberry, the Marketing and Public Relations Administrator of the Spindletop Center led off the meeting “I just want to thank the Orange Commissioners for their continued support in the services we provide.”

The proclamation stated that over Forty thousand Americans die by suicide each year, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the nation. It also, “called upon all citizens of Orange County to support this month with appropriate programs and activities to support suicide prevention efforts.”

County Judge John Gothia thanked Fortentberry for all the Spindletop does.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Theresa Beauchamp added, “Sometimes just knowing that somebody cares, and somebody is walking that walk with them makes the difference.”

Commissioners revisited the issue of the elected official salaries.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Robert Viator Jr, the lone no vote in the last vote by the court, proposed that the elected officials, other than the court, take effect with the new budget on October 1, 2019. For the court, he suggested that the raises not take effect for them until after their seat has had its next election.

It means that Precinct One and Three will receive the two percent raise after the 2020 election, and Precinct Two and Four will receive their raise after the 2022 election. 

The County Judge will receive the raise after the 2020 election.

Theresa Beauchamp said, “I pondered over this a lot. Two percent is not a lot, but when roads in my precinct need money so bad. I have only been here nine months.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan commented, “The Texas Legislature puts the Commissioner’s Court in an awkward position of having to vote for their own raises.”

County Judge John Gothia remarked. “This is heartburn for a lot of folks. I hate it. Of all of the things that get decided on by this court, having to decide our own salaries is one of the worst things we have to do. I think it is a bad situation. I truly wish it were not in our hands”

Robert Viator Jr added, “This is a compromise. This will give the citizens a voice. If you have done your job well, when you come up for reelection, they will reelect you. If not the raise is there for the next person.”

In the closed session of the court, they adopted the proposal by Jennifer Hill, Director of the Orange County Economic Development Council, for Project G.

According to Hill, “Project “G” will bring jobs and investment to the area.”

She wouldn’t elaborate any further.