Public Hearing Set On Budget, Tax Rate

A new date is set to discuss a controversial issue in Smith County.

The Commissioners Court just met this afternoon. They set a public hearing for September 22 at 6:30pm to talk about the county's proposed budget and tax rate. It will be held in the Central Jury Room of the Smith County Courthouse.

Meanwhile, county employees protested with signs outside the courthouse.

"Commissioners are trying to pass a budget that eliminates our retirees' insurance," Shera Guillory, the association's public relations officer, said. "People that have worked here 20, 30, some 40 years. They're taking away their retirement insurance. This was in our contract when we went to work here."

Last night, the Smith County Employees Association held an "emergency" meeting to voice their opposition to County Judge Becky Dempsey's proposed budget.

She presides over the court that will ultimately decide which budget to adopt.

The alternative budget is one proposed by the county auditor. Smith County employees voted unanimously in support of it last night.

"It restores funding to the 23 positions eliminated by the Commissioners Court," Russell Buffington, president of the association, said. "It restores funding to 90 percent of the public service agencies. It restores funding to our healthcare for our retirees."

The Commissioners Court will vote on the budget September 30.

Julie Tam, reporting.