County Employees Battle For The Buck

Smith County commissioners are hitting the books and looking for ways to save taxpayers money.

County Judge Becky Dempsey says one solution is making sure county managers know how to process unemployment insurance claims. That was the focus of a class held in one of the courts Friday morning.

The commissioners organized the session after learning $17,000 worth of questionable claims were handed out to former employees. Dempsey say it's possible some of the workers who received the claims were not eligible for the funds. But the mistakes went unnoticed because county employees have never been trained in the management of unemployment claims.

Dempsey hopes the session is the first step in making sure taxpayers' get the best bang for their buck.

"This is just one piece of the pie that we've identified and that $17,000 was for just one quarter," says Dempsey. "If you average that out, it's a lot more over a period of 12 months and this is just one instance."

Dempsey says commissioners hope to review service contracts every year to make sure the county is staying cost effective. Commissioners have also implemented a hiring. Dempsey says when an employee leaves, a department head must justify the need for that position before hiring someone new.