Change Free or Low-Cost Provisions for Certain Texas Department of Criminal Justice Employees

Free or low-cost emoluments for certain Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees should be increased to reflect price changes over time.


Background
The General Appropriations Act authorizes certain Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employees to reside in state-owned housing free of ch arge. The original justification was to have these employees living on-site for security and emergency reasons, because many of the prisons are located in rural areas of the state. However, many of these employees are in administrative positions and are no t directly involved with maintaining security. As of December 14, 1992, there were 560 employees receiving free housing. 1

There are other TDCJ employees residing in state-owned housing units who are paying a minimal amount of rent, currently $25, $50 or $75 per month, depending upon the size of the unit. 2 The rental revenue is reappropriated in the Institutional Division s Support Services Building Maintenance account and is used for maintaining employee housing. 3

Additionally, some employees receive utilities free and others receive one-half of utilities free. 4 Fees collected from employees for utilities are reappropriated to the Institutional Division s Support Services Utility account. 5


Recommendations
A. The rental rates of $25, $50 and $75 for those Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employees currently paying rent should be raised to $50, $100 and $200 respectively per month.

Despite the increase, rental rates would still be lower than the general market rates for housing in the areas where the housing is located.

B. TDCJ employees whose presence on-site is not necessary for security purposes should be charged for housing.

Approximately 166 employees have been identified who would be affected by this recommendation. Employees required to be on-site for security reasons would continue to receive free housing.

C. All TDCJ employees residing in state-owned housing units should pay one-half of the metered utility bills.


Implications
Employees whose presence on-site is not required would pay rent for the residential units, and those currently paying rent would see their rent payments rise. The rental rates would remain low despite the increase. Employees receiving free utilities would pay one-half of their utility bills.

To realize the savings associated with these recommendations, the Legislature should reduce appropriations to the Support Services Building Maintenance and Utilities line items by the expected increase in revenues.

In effect, this represents a pay reduction for certain employees. Under its budget structure, TDCJ would have the ability to offset this reduction through salary adjustments. However, this would be a decision of the agency and should not affect this recomm endation.

Fiscal Impact
General revenue appropriations would be offset by the gain in rental revenue and utility revenue. Savings are estimated at $2,140,000 during the next five years.

Fiscal Savings to the General Change in
Year Revenue Fund 001 FTEs

1994 $428,000 0
1995 428,000 0
1996 428,000 0
1997 428,000 0
1998 428,000 0



Endnotes
1 Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, Utility Service Location Report, Huntsville, Texas, December 14, 1992. (Listing.)
2 Interview with Chris Koenig, Budget Analyst, Institutional Division, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Huntsville, Texas, December 27, 1992.
3 State of Texas, General Appropriations Act, Seventy-second Legislature, First and Second Called Session (Austin, Texas, 1991), p. I-82.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.