DALLAS - Dallas County leaders are in a heated dispute over whether they and other elected officials should get a 4% pay raise.
On Friday, people on both sides of the issue had the chance to state their case before a "salary grievance committee."
This is the first time the Dallas County Commissioners Court has not had enough votes to pass the proposed raise for elected officials.
A new commissioner has shifted the balance of power.
So elected officials contesting the decision had to plead their case to a nine-member panel made up of citizens.
The process was confusing and messy.
Sitting in a spot normally reserved for Dallas County commissioners, a "salary grievance committee" was tasked with determining the financial worth of more than a dozen elected officials.
The unprecedented hearing comes after Dallas County commissioners voted 3-2 against giving the county's 26 elected officials a 4% raise.
Fifteen of those, including Commissioner John Wiley Price, contested the decision to a panel made up of ordinary citizens picked from a grand jury pool.
“It's arcane. It's basically designed for smaller counties,” Price argued. “Some of us, this isn't part-time, and if you heard any of my presentation, I'm full-time.”
The drawn-out process seemed to be confusing for panel members at times.
“Are members of the panel allowed to have a do-over?” one member asked.
Panel members first had to determine if an elected official should get a raise, and if so, how much?
Among those making their case for a raise was the tax assessor.
“What I'm asking for today is equity,” John R. Ames said.
The panel voted to give him a raise, but couldn't agree on what percentage.
Sheriff Marion Brown withdrew her grievance, saying she did not want a raise, but she wanted to use her time to express her disappointment in the process and rally for her colleagues at the will of the panel.
“I'm simply saying that it is wrong for us to, as a country, that we want to draw top notch people, to attract top notch people, then we subject them to this kind of humiliation. It is wrong,” Brown said.
The budget director testified he did budget for the 4% salary increase for all elected officials, which amounts to roughly $185,000.
It's the same pay raise percentage all county employees will get on October 1.