As Dallas County Attempts to Budget Books, One Boss Offers to Take a Pay Cut

Wick Allison's had some to say in recent days about Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins's battle with the county commissioners over a 10-percent across-the-board budget cut the commissioners demanded in order to deal with an expected $58 million shortfall for the next fiscal year. Watkins told the D publisher yesterday that applying the same level of cuts to all departments simply makes no sense -- which is why he's demanding a countywide vote allowing the taxpayers to yea or nay the budget cuts for the District Attorney's Office.

But one Dallas County employee has quietly gone along with the 10-percent cuts: District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who posted his proposed FY2010 budget right on his Web site late last week. Fitzsimmons has come up with a plan to balance the books -- including taking a self-imposed 5-percent pay cut. So I asked him via e-mail earlier this week, "How easy or otherwise was the decision to offer up a 5 percent salary cut to balance your office's budget?" His response follows.

As part of my office's proposed FY 2010 budget presented to Commissioners Court for approval, I included a personal pay cut because I believe I must send a clear signal to all my employees that regardless of what budget for our office is finally approved, which may include hourly or pay cuts, I was the first to accept that condition in order to meet demands set forth by the Commissioners Court to all County departments. 

In the budget I proposed and submitted, the projected income from the new collections program has not been certified by the Auditor and is under review by the Budget Office. Therefore, it would be premature to write that my budget will not include job cuts or furloughs because, while I have submitted a recommended budget that does not include them, it has not been approved.

The ultimate decision is not mine to make and I await the approval and its ramifications for my department. We worked diligently to put together our best estimates in a determined effort to meet mandated budget cuts while leaving as much of our department's programs and personnel in place as possible, but we now have to wait for some one else's decision, then move ahead as best we can with what we are given.

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