Residents questioning how Ellis County judge got 74% pay raise

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Some Ellis County residents are angry a county judge gave herself a 74% pay raise while other employees only received a 3% pay raise.

Four people protested outside the Ellis County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon, saying County Judge Carol Bush did not deserve a $70,000 raise given to her Friday by a committee few people had ever heard of.

For the last eight years, Bush has been the Ellis County Judge responsible for overseeing county budget, projects, elections, emergency responses, and other duties.

At $95,000 a year, Bush says her pay is among the lowest in the county when compared to other leadership positions. So she used a little-known process called a salary grievance committee, which is found in the Texas Local Government Code.

"I wanted the process to be the process, and I didn't want it to be politicized in any which way,” she explained. “So I felt that this was the purest way to petition."

The committee is made up of nine randomly-selected Ellis County citizens who served on last year’s grand jury to hear her salary appeal. All nine agreed she deserved a raise of $70,000, even more than Bush had asked for.

“I'm grateful to the committee that was able to look at the facts objectively and independently without politics and come to a decision that I feel is equitable,” said Bush.

"How self-serving is what she has done?” asked protester John Berry. “How many Ellis County leaders would do the same thing?"

Any county-wide elected official can ask for and receive the same salary process.

Bush’s new salary won’t take effect until October 1.