Trinity Co. officials give raises to employees

Trinity Co. officials give raises to employees

GROVETON, TX (KTRE) - Every fall, counties all across Texas begin finalizing their fiscal budgets. In Trinity County, the pay rate of non-elected employees has been a big concern.

When the over $4.6 million budget was approved by county commissioners, every employee got at least a three-percent raise, but two officials wanted to make sure their employees got a little extra.

"I'm elected by the people, but ultimately I oversee a group of people that do much of the work," said Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace.

"It wasn't hard at all," said County Clerk Shasta Bergman. "It is just one of those things. I appreciate my staff. If this is a way I can show them that I appreciate them, then I am more than willing to do it."

Wallace said he allows his employees to work side jobs for extra money, but he also said he knows it is hard on the family life of each deputy.

"Deputies in most departments can go out and work extra jobs, but I don't want them to have to go out and work extra jobs to pay their bills and put food on the table," Wallace said.

Deputy Justin Sikes learned about the kind act when the East Texas News spotted him after his lunch break.

"I took office when the sheriff did, and he has gone to bat for us 100 percent," Sikes said. "I leave the house at 5:15 in the morning to get here at 6, just to get ready to go to work. I enjoy it. Every little penny is going to help. "

Next door to Wallace's office is Bergman's office. Bergman started off as a regular employee sorting through the thousands of records her office holds.

Bergman said she now makes almost $15,000 more than her employees, so there was no need for her to keep her raise.

"I know what it is like to live on that kind of salary on what you actually bring home and what you actually feed your family with," Bergman said. "I know the importance of being able to have a little bit more."

She hopes her decision will keep morale up in tough economic times. It's a thought shared by Wallace as well.

County Commissioner Rich Chamberlin also gave up his pay raise.

"I believe when there is a tight budget, the commissioners should not have been in the raise," Chamberlin said. "It should go to the lower levels. I have no employees since my area is also maintained by precinct three, so I made sure the money went to the road and bridge improvements."

The new fiscal budget in Trinity County goes into effect on Oct. 1.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.