Commissioner controversy after sheriff's request denied

Commissioner controversy after sheriff's request denied

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County Commissioners have denied a request made by the sheriff for help funding an appreciation event for employees.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith requested $2,500 from the commissioners Tuesday morning, to help fund an annual Smith County Sheriff’s officers awards banquet, in addition to the usual $5,000 it has received in past years. The banquet is granted that $5,000 from the workforce investment fund; a fund used for the counties appreciation luncheons and holiday events.

Sheriff Smith says the department has grown to nearly 400 employees, and with many awards expected to be given out, the banquet is in need of more funding.

"I don't think that's what the taxpayers want me doing, is out there soliciting funds for a banquet, they want me taking care of their life liberty and property," Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says. "We have people out there 24/7, 365 days out of the year and I don't think it’s too much to ask to show a little appreciation for them." 

And with a two-thirds vote, the request was denied.

Commissioner Terry Phillips later suggested the sheriff take money from the offices drug fund; a fund usually used for narcotics investigation.

"They're trying to take the drug funds away because we've been using it for things like this, I’m trying to get away from that," Sheriff Smith says.

Commissioner Phillips believes every department in the county deserves an appreciation ceremony, but the county’s budget just will not allow it. 
He believes showing favoritism by giving even more money to the sheriff’s office seems unfair.

"If we do for the Sheriff, we need to do for the rest of the county," Commissioner Terry Phillips says.

But Commissioner Cary Nix says he feels the sheriff’s office is deserving of more recognition.

"The sheriff’s department, in my opinion, protect your life, liberty, and property, you know when you’re in a jam, they’re kind of the last line between you and danger," Commissioner Cary Nix says.
Before Smith was in office, the court informed him that the former sheriff asked for donations to help fund the banquet in previous years. Sheriff Smith told KLTV that he did not feel that it was appropriate for a sheriff to ask for hand-outs.
No word yet on whether or not the county commissioners will decided to reconsider the sheriff's request.

Copyright 2018 KLTV. All rights reserved.