Runnels County Auditor to pull double duty with Coke County

Staff Writer
Runnels County Register
Runnels County Register

A public meeting was held at the Runnels County courthouse at 10:30 a.m on September 3rd. The meeting was headed by District Judge Ben Woodward. The topic of discussion was Runnels County auditor Cindy Winchester being appointed to the same position in Coke County. Woodward addressed the reasoning, “I’m not the district judge in Coke County. Their auditor retired and they need someone to take up the responsibility. There is a provision in the law that allows counties to share an auditor. We tried to get one from Tom Green County but that would have increased the budget for Runnels County by $31,000. Coke County will pay her a salary.” This will be in addition to her full time Runnels County salary. Woodward said that he didn’t know what the Coke County salary will be.

Woodward said that Runnels County would still be getting their 40-hours a week from her, “If you look at it, it doesn’t seem fair on paper. I understand the concerns.” Woodward went on to say that he felt it was fair, “She will be working a lot of Saturdays and nights.” Winchester herself commented, “On the day’s that I’ve been here, I come in at 7:30 a.m. and I leave as late as 7:30 p.m. I was here on Saturday for 5 hours. There are other auditors who cover multiple counties and receive full salary.”

Runnels County Judge Barry Hilliard was at the meeting and said that the Coke County auditor made around $32,000/year, “If she (Winchester) is working for Coke County, our taxpayers are still paying her salary for full time work here.” Presently Winchester makes $53,750/year. She has 2 assistants with one making over $31,000/year and the other making approximately $29,000/year. Woodward reiterated that he feels that Runnels County will still get her full time work, in addition to the Coke County work.

Hilliard was also concerned that the full scope of the meeting wasn’t put in the legal notice, “Should we have told people the subject of this meeting?” Woodward addressed the question nad legalities, “We published the notice and that’s all that we’re required to do. We did follow the legal requirements.” Woodward said that he has been busy with court cases and dealing with changes to way some of the legal proceedings are handled since the the COVID-19 pandemic started. He said this was his first trip to Runnels County since February, due to the COVID-19 virus.

Runnels County Commissioner Ronald Presley (Pct. 2) was concerned about the financial implications as well, citing the cost of her health insurance. Woodward told everyone that Coke County would pick up approximately half the cost of her health insurance.

Hilliard also asked about Winchester’s retirement, which Woodward responded to, “Both counties will pay a portion of her retirement. Let me take this opportunity to say that this pandemic has been difficult on everyone. I can’t imagine the work that district clerks and county clerks have to do.”

Woodward said that this is the way thing are going to run for the next year and that they would look at it again in 2021.

In addition those previously mentioned, those at the meeting included Runnels County Pct 1 commissioner Robert Moore, KRUN general manager Jeff Smith, local businessman and Ballinger City Council candidate Chad Hardy.