Commissioners create separate HR department, move position from auditor’s office


Gonzales County commissioners voted unanimously Monday, March 25, to pull the Human Resources coordinator position out of County Auditor Becky Weston’s office and place it instead under the supervision of Commissioners Court, effective immediately.

The commissioners will offer assistant auditor Misty Cook — who currently acts as the county’s HR coordinator but also handles payroll duties — the first chance to fill the revised position. If she does not want the job and instead seeks to remain in the auditor’s office, the court will accept applications for a new HR coordinator. The fiscal 2024 budget will be amended to cover the remaining salary for the transferred position.

The court met in executive session for nearly an hour to discuss what to do about the HR department.

County Judge Pat Davis first had brought up concerns about having HR in the same office as payroll at a February meeting, with County Attorney Paul Watkins echoing those concerns as well, calling it “an inherent conflict” in having the same office handle both payroll and HR, let alone the same person.

“Not that Becky would ever do anything wrong — I'm not suggesting that at all,” Watkins said in February. “I'm just saying that when an HR person is responsible for the employees, and to the elected officials, but also is in charge of the money — that's an inherent conflict.

“We have more than enough employees for a full time HR. That's an absolute truth. I'm going to tell you that I have had employees from this county come to me and tell me they're not comfortable going into the auditor's office to talk to HR. I think there's a conflict here, because at some point, you're going to be deciding between money and people. And that's what an HR person does — they advocate for our employees.

“They will answer to somebody in the sense that they're not an elected official, and they're responsible to the commissioners court. But at the same time, they have to be an independent office,” Watkins said.

“I've got people that come to me and say they're not comfortable going to HR now,” Davis added. “They're not comfortable because they don't want to say something and then it's doesn't seem to be confidential.”

Davis said he would not want to move payroll from the auditor’s office, just the HR position, and said the two would obviously work closely together due to overlapping concerns.

Gonzales County has 160 employees and is one of the largest employers in the county without a full-time separate HR department.

Originally, Davis had suggested moving the HR coordinator under his office, but commissioners instead wanted to have the coordinator position fall under the supervision of the commissioners court as a whole.