Rockwall County – Best Practices to Serve a Growing Population

Self-appointed “watchdog” Dave Lieber of the Dallas Morning News ignorantly slanders Rockwall County elected officials (elected means we chose them, Dave).

In a Dallas News opinion posting disguised as ‘news’, Dave Lieber compares our county to Dallas County. If you know nothing about Dallas County, his rant may seem reasonable.

The Dallas Morning News 10/10/2019 | Rockwall County commissioners voted themselves a pay raise so large I call it unarmed robbery

He began his opinion piece, asking, “Why did the smallest Texas county – Rockwall – award some of the biggest pay raises to top leaders?

Answer: We want the very best people in our local governments.

First, with respect to resources, Rockwall County ranks 6th in terms of per capita wealth. Dallas ranks down the list at 37th. We can afford the very best people.

Second, the entire process of research, a citizens committee, public notices, public meetings and public discussions, (we call it ‘due process’) is how we came to the numbers.

Third, perspective: Mr. Lieber needs one based on facts and proportionality.

Fourth, the pie chart of my own October 2019 tax bill reveals that County tax is the smallest component of the entire tax ‘pie’.

Rockwall ISD has the best of the best with respect to staffing. And, RISD pays well to get them. When a position opens, the administration has its ‘pick of the litter’.

We want and need the ability to attract and retain the best of the best staffing in Rockwall County where nominally 77% of all inmates in our jail do not reside in our county. Most live in Dallas County but come out here to do their ‘thing’.

Unlike the City of Dallas where most crimes are ignored, we do not ignore crimes against persons in our county. That’s why we also passed a $50 million bond to expand our jail.

Attacking our elected officeholders while ignoring the mess in his own backyard is simply hypocrisy. A watchdog, indeed.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.”

Benjamin Franklin

John White
Rockwall, Texas

2 thoughts on “Rockwall County – Best Practices to Serve a Growing Population

  1. First – The fact that some liberal “watchdog” wrote a sensational article about the pay raises did not light the fire behind the citizen outrage. Check the history. There were many discussions on Rockwallian and other sites about this prior to Dave Lieber’s article. Asserting that there was no disagreement prior to the vote is insulting to the citizenry. Commissioner Siever responded by changing his vote.

    So the answer is “We want the very best people in our local governments.”. If the raises were for the sheriff, the jailers and other non-elected county employees perhaps that case can be made. But why do we need to raise the pay for elected officials? I did my research. The 2019 budgets for every county around us is published on their web site. Based on our size and population no case for the raises can be made. “We can afford it” is not good governance.

    Second – the process of research, committees, notices and public forums are generic and not focused on this one outrageous act. If there was research, they should publish it. If there was a committee, they should publish the minutes. I am a professional engineer and mathematician. It took all of 30 minutes to fuel my outrage using numbers from the published 2019 budgets of the surrounding counties. This is the one and only thing that I’ve commented on in 20 years.

    Third – much of the blog talks about the need for professional jailers, the salaries of RISD staff. etc. No matter how large a portion of the “tax pie” the entire “pie” should be managed prudently. Rockwall County’s relative density is a non-factor as it is overwhelmed by the small size of RoCo. The comparisons to other counties should include land to be managed and total population. RoCo is the smallest county in Texas – not even close. And the populations of the counties around us are generally 5 times larger (or more for Dallas and Tarrant). One comparable county in population is Kaufman where the commissioners make less than ours did last year!

    RISD does have a fine staff but the across-the-board administrative salaries are not comparable to larger surrounding ISDs. My wife took the exact same job in Garland making 25% more. Why? … because GISD has 5 times the number of schools. Asserting some analogy between the salaries of RISD staff and the RoCO commissioners court should sway one against the huge pay increases, not the other way around. This is fiscal madness.

    The basic knowledge of math here is suspect (and I’m an expert). At a minimum these raises were a bad PR move, an insult to the hard-working citizens of RoCOo whether or not they have time to visit the court house weekly.

  2. While I agree with very little published in the Dallas Morning News, this article was the exception. I am speaking specifically about the outrageous increases in the County Judge and County Commissioners salaries. Rockwall County Commissioners salaries were the 7th highest of the 36 counties with populations between 50,000 and 150,000. After the raise it is the 2nd highest. If the increase was truly to attract qualified younger candidates then the commissioners would have deferred the increase until a new candidate takes office. But 3 of the 4 commissioners took the increase. It is time to replace these 3 with candidates that are truly concerned for the citizens of Rockwall County.

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