Apparently having grown tired of the ad hominem attacks on the women of the Commissioners Court, members of the Williamson County Employees Association have launched a new tactic: obfuscation. WCEA's latest mantra is that they received a pay cut last year, therefore we taxpayers should pay higher rates so that County Employees can have a pay raise. This is patently false.
The fact is that county employees have not received any pay cuts, on the contrary, pay increases prior to 2007 averaged 5% each year, and since 2007 have averaged 3.13%. The WCEA is basing this 'pay cut' argument on the increase in health insurance premiums.
What Royger Harris and the WCEA do not mention is that health insurance premiums have increased dramatically for all Americans. According to a recent study by Families USA, between 2000 and 2007 family health insurance premiums in Texas "rose 86.8%, while median earnings rose by only 15%." Unfortunately, the Families USA study lumps public and private sector workers together, hence the illusory 15% increase. Like government workers, private sector workers are also coping with insurance premium increases, but unlike county salaries, private sector pay, which is tied to economic reality, has steadily decreased.
The WCEA also very carefully avoids mention of county retirement pensions. Williamson County participates in the TCDRS, or Texas County and District Retirement System, and provides a whopping 250% match at retirement. In providing this generous tax-payer-funded contribution, Wilco is among 22 of 252 Texas Counties matching at this maximum rate, placing Williamson County in the top 8.73% of Texas counties. When local governments in other states are now on the brink of bankruptcy due to guaranteed government employee pensions,we understand why the WCEA would steer clear of this topic.
The WCEA demands for property tax increases so that county employees can enjoy a pay raise, while the rest of the nation is coping with high unemployment, higher living/healthcare costs, and actual pay decreases, is unconscionable. Furthermore, the WCEA social media and blogsite activity that permits anonymous personal attacks on the women of the Commissioners Court (often posted Monday-Friday between the hours of 8 and 5) is cowardly and detracts from their credibility. Perhaps these folks ought to take note of the majority of county workers who have not joined WCEA, and are doing the jobs we the tax-payers hired them to do.