Commissioners Unanimously Approve Budget

With a quick vote Smith County Commissioners were able to accomplish something Thursday that has kept them at odds for weeks. They were able to pass a new budget that most say they're happy with.

"It's about information sharing and we accomplished that and I think we've come up with a good document we can all live with," said Judge Becky Dempsey.

"Seeing an unanimous decision come from the court, even though everybody is not happy with every issue, it certainly reflects the spirit of compromise," said Employee Association President Russell Buffington.

That compromise came after budget officer Jeff Clark and County Auditor Ann Wilson were allowed to work together. It was the first time the two had looked at the budget that way and the results look like this.

Taken out, the proposal to cut 13 county jobs, a proposal to cut to retiree benefits and the cuts to public services. Added in, a 3 % cost of living raise for all county employees, an increase in funding to the road and bridge department and employees will be required to contribute for themselves in their health plan.

Those involved with the budget say it's not perfect, but one they can make work.

"I think all and all based on the lateness of the hour of course we didn't get everything we wanted from the county but I think this is an acceptable compromise," said Buffington.

For Judge Dempsey the unanimous vote means a positive end and a strong future.

"You don't get to be where you need to be without some tough times," said Judge Dempsey. "I think there is some work to be done but I think there are going to be some folks step up to the plate to get it done."

To reach their goal county departments will have to trim some of their individual budgets. All public services, like the Health Department and the Heart of Tyler, will have to make due with 10 % less money than they got last year.

The county was also able to maintain it's current tax rate of .25447, which is the 5th lowest in the state.

Chris Gibson, reporting