The business of running a County is the same as that of running a business. As I watch the Commissioners court meetings, I am being reminded more and more of my time in the Corporate world, running large businesses with multiple departments and employees in the hundreds. In the business world, you have Department heads, such as Sales Manager, Chief Accountant, Head of Public Relations, Chief Maintenance Officer, Acquisitions Manager, Head of Security, Chief Engineer of I.T for example. These positions equate to the Counties Elected officials, such as District Clerk, County Clerk, Sheriff, Constable, County Commissioner. The Commissioner’s Court is made up of the four Commissioners plus the County Judge. The County Judge is the CEO of the government system.
Department heads are responsible for running their departments. They all tend to believe they are the most integral department to the success of the business. Similarly, the Commissioners of Polk County are operating with the same flawed thinking.
Whether it is business, or County Government, the County Judge/Chief Financial Officer, has no choice but to think of the body. They don’t have the luxury of being concerned with only the leg, arm, hand, or torso. The County Judge must ensure the entire body receive their equal nourishment because, for them, all parts of the body are necessary for the body to move forward. For Department heads, they are concerned only that their leg or arm is functioning.
Typically what usually happens is that one or two departments will join forces in the effort to convince the CEO, or the Board, if there is one, that their two body parts are the only ones that matter. For instance, the legs may come together and say that the arms are irrelevant if the legs are not given extra nourishment to run faster. They will push this idea on anyone they can. Often, convincing an arm or a hand that this is true.
Good CEOs, or County Judges, will stand firm in their position that all the body parts must be taken care of equally. They will not deviate from this position for they know that if one department can have special treatment, it will then cause a ripple effect of cancer to spread throughout the whole body. And it doesn’t take a CEO to know that once cancer starts, the whole body will sickened, and quite often die. We all know this, and we have probably all seen it at least once in our employment.
From watching the most recent Commissioners Court meetings, this is exactly what is happening. I see a good CEO standing her ground to ensure all employees are treated equally.
department heads are working to get more for the employees in their departments. Board members (Commissioners) are ignoring their responsibilities to the entire shareholders (voters) and not focusing on the whole of the body. Maybe instead of focusing on emails that have no concern about the issues of pay scale sustainability, they might actually focus on the data provided that shows a serious pay inequality among those said employees.
When reviewing the Salary Compensation study, I was surprised to see that 2 Office Managers have nearly a 40,000 per year difference. I can appreciate longevity or tenure, but the imbalance is simply far too great to rationalize. With the proper management of the funds, a balance can be achieved without harm to the overpaid employee.
It is also concerning that women employees are significantly underpaid for doing equal work with equal or better time in service. In order to recruit and retain quality workers, we must not fall into the “favoritism” or “good ole’ boy” mentality that has held this County down for so long. The Commissioners must spend time reviewing facts instead of baselessly attacking the County Judge for properly protecting all County employees and not just a favored few. Merit raises are not a slush fund for the department heads to hand out based upon that favoritism. Across the board raises does not rectify the imbalance of equal pay for equal work.
Just like CEO’s of private corporations must answer to the board members, elected officials must answer to the constituents of the County. In order to properly fulfill their obligation to the shareholders (voters), they should only think of what is best for the whole company. Because if only a part of the company thrives, the shareholders do not get what they deserve. And they deserve the best we can give. In County Government, the shareholders are the citizens of that County. We are the ones who work hard to pay in our dollars to support this Government, and we deserve for all the employees to be treated fairly and justly, so that we may have a smooth-running Government.