LUBBOCK, Texas — The Lubbock County Commissioner’s Court voted unanimously Monday to add a property tax hike proposal to residents’ November ballot.
The tax increase aims to increase the salaries of sheriff deputies, who are now paid less than other counties and city departments. The starting salary for a sheriff’s deputy is approximately $41,000, compared to $60,000 for a starting officer in the Lubbock Police Department. The county said this pay disparity has led to qualified officers leaving the county for higher-paying positions and has led to unsustainable turnover.
“The Sheriff’s Office is currently 25 percent behind the average starting salary of the departments we are losing qualified, experienced, and trained deputies to,” County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said in a statement Monday. “Your tax dollars are leaving the area to benefit other agencies.”
The Sheriff’s Office reported that they have lost $2.6 million in training in the last four years, as deputies receive training under Lubbock County but then leave for better compensation elsewhere. Precinct 3 Commissioner Gilbert Flores also noted that the county jail has been experiencing a 25 percent turnover.
“We’re asking the voters that, if you believe in public safety, then we want to make sure that all of that money… goes to the Sheriff’s Department,” County Judge Curtis Parrish said. “For salaries, for disparity pay, for incentive pay, and a couple extra positions that the sheriff needs to keep us safe and secure in our homes.”
The ballot will propose a new property tax rate of $0.35 per each $100 of a resident’s home valuation, up two cents from the current rate. That equates to approximately $65 more per year for an average Lubbock County home.
Election Day is November 2, with early voting beginning on October 18. The deadline to register to vote is October 4.