County Employees Vote On Budget In "Emergency" Meeting

Smith County employees held an "emergency meeting" tonight. They voted unanimously to endorse County Auditor Ann Wilson's alternative budget, which they say is best for county employees.

"It's a good budget," Russell Buffington, the association's president, said. "It's a balanced budget. It provides for no tax increase at all. It restores funding to the 23 positions eliminated by the commissioners court. It restores funding to 90 percent of the public service agencies."

The meeting comes after County Judge Becky Dempsey proposed a new budget Monday, eliminating 23 jobs, and taking away salary increases and insurance for all retirees. It would also reduce funding for public service agencies, among other cutbacks.

"I think it's a dark day in Smith County," Buffington, said. "I think we enjoy a high level of service in Smith County from our county government. I think our budgets have always been lean. I don't think there's a lot of fat in county government."

Commissioners Court is scheduled to meet September 30 to vote on the budget for the next fiscal year.

Julie Tam, reporting.