WAXAHACHIE, Texas – The top elected official in Ellis County, County Judge Carol Bush, will get a $70,000 pay raise next month that increases her salary to more than that of Gov. Greg Abbott.
“I think that’s insane. Insane,” said Amy Hedtke, citizen activist. “You know anybody else that gets a salary of $70,000? Not an increase to $70,000. But an increase of $70,000.”
Bush’s salary increases from $94,835 to $165,000 on Oct.1. County employees will get a 3 percent raise.
Bush will make more than the governor, more than her counterpart in Collin County which is larger but not as much as Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins who earns $176,508, according to a salary survey by the Texas Association of Counties.
But what changed in Bush’s duties to justify a 75 percent salary increase? WFAA asked that question.
“There’s nothing that has changed in my job duties other than challenges that growth brings. What I’m saying is that traditionally the position has been underpaid,” Bush explained.
That was her argument.
She makes considerably less money than other top officials in Ellis County such as the District Attorney and Waxahachie’s city manager, among others.
Bush compared her salary to almost 30 others in the county – school superintendents, police and fire chiefs, and county court-at-law judges – who all earn more than her.
“[My salary] was roughly $94,000,” Bush added, “and the committee unanimously decided it should be set at $165,000.”
It was the grievance committee – a little known entity buried in county code which has not met in three years.
Bush, the non-voting chairwoman of it, called members together and made her case for 90-minutes last Friday. That committee agreed unanimously that Bush should make more money.
County commissioners were forced to accept the committee’s vote and take the money from the general fund to pay for her salary hike. Most of the rest of county employees got a 3 percent raise.
Bush’s increase infuriated Hedtke. She was escorted out of the budget meeting Tuesday afternoon for telling Bush the following: “I’d like to encourage you to take your insane expensive pay raise, buy a huge ____, and in the words of many of the Ellis County residents who are online, "Go [expletive] yourself.”
At least one county commissioner questioned the amount of Bush’s raise, as well.
“I don’t think you want to pursue top dollar wages in public office. I think you serve in public office to serve in public office and not primarily to better yourself materially,” said Paul Perry, Ellis County Commissioner, Pct. 3.
But taxpayer watchdog Dave Vance is investigating whether the correct members of the grievance committee were called to consider Bush’s salary. Bush called random members of a county jury pool but Vance argues the local law changed and the committee was supposed to be made up of six elected officials and three members of the public.
Tuesday afternoon the budget passed and Bush’s salary was finalized.
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