During the public comments time at Bowie County Commissioners Court two days ago, Lillian Tidwell put a human face on the consequences of the Court’s decision to cut 15% from county payroll. Department heads were allowed to choose whether all employees would take a 15% cut, or meet the goal be reducing payroll costs by 15%.
I asked Ms. Tidwell for a copy of her notes, and she sent them to me:
Good morning. My name is Lillian Tidwell.
I am the Secretary for the Bowie County Juvenile Probation Department. I have held this position for the last 19 plus years.
During these 19 years I have worked under 4 different Chief Juvenile Probation Officers in Bowie County.
Some of my job responsibilities include but not limited to –Answering phones-Entering arrest reports in computer- Intake process with juvenile and family gathering information- monthly state reports,-apply for grants- transport juveniles to detention in Marshall, Longview, Greenville-being in the 3-4 month rotation of on call for a period of 7 days for 24hrs.
I have always been a team player and tried to make the best of all situations.
The reason I’m here today is because of the decision by the Court to cut 15% from County employees’ salaries. I wish it was that simple: You see my department has decided to eliminate my position and also my employment to comply with the orders of the court.
My last day of employment is scheduled for this Thursday July 31, 2014. Before this decision was made I was eligible for retirement in 4 months and 1 day.
I feel that the decision to eliminate my employment is an unjust one.
I know for a fact that I am the only employee in the Juvenile Probation Department that is losing their job and that no one else in the department is taking any kind of pay reduction.
My job elimination is more than the 15% reduction required by the Court. I am 55 yrs. old and have a 13 year old daughter that I have to support. Losing my job will be a major financial hardship, a 15% cut in pay was going to be hard enough but that was better than no job without my medicial benefits. I feel that there are other options.
Thursday July 31, 2014 I will lose my medical insurance, that I have worked toward for 19 years and will be unable to collect my retirement until May of 2015. I feel that I’m being treated unfairly to make someone else feel better about meeting the 15% pay cut.
4 months and 1 day is all I ask.
I contacted Harland Jones, the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for Bowie County, about the matter. He told me he didn’t feel it was appropriate to discuss personnel issues.
***UPDATE – a detailed article about an alternative to the payroll cuts is here.