Upshur court votes against district pay raise

GILMER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) -- Upshur County Commissioners Court today apparently became the first of the county's taxing entities to veto the county appraisal district's proposed 2014 budget, which contains a controversial five percent pay increase for district employees.

At least nine of 17 taxing entities which elect the district's board of directors must pass a resolution vetoing the budget in order to kill the proposed pay raise, which the board approved in a 3-1 vote Monday. An entity which doesn't specifically veto the budget by July 10 automatically accepts it, according to county Chief Appraiser Sarah Curtis.

The court voted 4-0 to reject the budget, with all four county commissioners approving the veto resolution. County Judge Dean Fowler, who normally votes only to break ties, did not vote. In the resolution introduced by Commissioner Frank Berka, the court said approving the pay raise might require a tax increase, and that the appraisal district has included pay raises in five of the past six years' budgets.

Commissioners have also objected to the pay hike on grounds that county workers have not received one in almost seven years, and that the county cannot afford one for them. The district has said the pay hike was needed in order to compete with other appraisal districts for appraisers, and that bringing in a new appraiser costs $10,000.


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