Inmate Health Costs Higher Than Expected

An unexpected rise in health care cost for inmates at the Smith County Jail has created a shortfall in the County's budget.  To cover the shortfall, Commissioners voted Monday to transfer $700,000 to the jail.

The funds come from monies received through a settlement with tabacco companies. County Judge Becky Dempsey said they didn't plan for the increase costs, but said it had to be done.

"I think (inmate healthcare cost) was trending lower last year and so we lowered the budgeted amount, unfortunately this is one of those things that at times it's just a roll of the dice."

Dempsey expects the transfer will cover inmate health care cost through the end of the year.  The County had originally budgeted around $1.3 million for those costs.

Chris Gibson, reporting