A third meeting of the Navarro County Salary Grievance Committee ended Wednesday with the appeals of Constables Mike Davis and Nicole McMahan falling short of the needed votes for reconsideration.
Both constables sought to have their pay increased from $20,000 to $30,000 annually, saying they deserve a fair salary for their positions.
Two previous meetings of the committee were challenged by the constables as having been in violation of provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The first meeting, they said, failed to meet the requirements for posting notice of the meeting 72 hours in advance and wrongfully allowed members to cast secret ballots, while in the second meeting, the participation of a member by telephone and the failure of having an official record of the meeting were cited as open meetings law violations by the two. Davis cited an Attorney General’s opinion in defending his request for a third appeal hearing.
When asked Wednesday by a committee member why the group was having to meet again, County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr. acknowledged the county had made “procedural error” in the previous meetings, although he added there are “differences of opinion” on how the meetings are to be held.
“An Attorney General’s opinion is just that — an opinion,” said Davenport. “It does not necessarily hold up in court.”
Davis, the Precinct 1 constable, and McMahan, the Precinct 3 constable, both said they only wanted to be sure they had a fair hearing of their concerns.
“We just want to make sure what we have is up to par and legal,” Davis said. He cited another Attorney General opinion he said allowed the committee to vote to grant them consideration for what they had asked for — a $10,000 raise — or another figure the group unanimously agreed on.
“What we are asking for is not unreasonable,” said McMahan, referencing the hours she said she devotes to the position at various times of the day and night.
Precinct 2 Constable David Foreman, who did not file a grievance this year, defended the request by the two, saying the workload of the constables has changed over recent years.
Foreman acknowledged that over the years, the commissioners court had granted some raises to constables, but asked that the salary “base” be raised now to a reasonable level.
“I don’t know of anyone who takes a job and expects the pay to stay the same,” Foreman said.
At least six "yes" votes were required to send the matter back to the commissioners court for reconsideration. McMahan received 5 "yes" and 4 "no" votes; Davis received 4 "yes" and 5 "no" votes from the nine members of the committee present Wednesday.
Following the vote, both constables said they were grateful for the opportunity to have a fair hearing.
“I think we had a good, legal meeting this time,” McMahan said. She said she was not sure if she would pursue other options in the appeal.
“I’ve never gone through this process before. I want to see what my options are,” McMahan said.
“I appreciate the effort,” Davis said. “As far as I’m concerned it looked legal to me. I accept the outcome.”
Davis said it was “undecided” as to whether he’d pursue any other avenues to get a salary increase.
Bob Belcher may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org