TYLER (KYTX) -- Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says he needs 54 additional people to adequately staff the new jail, but the budget only allows for 12 more.

"I have no other alternative, even though we have the beds here then to carry those inmates to Henderson county or some other county we have a contract with to house them," Smith said.

Sending inmates to other counties costs the taxpayers money, something Smith wishes he didn't have to do.

"My job is to run the jail with whatever is given me to do it with and that's what I'll do," Smith said.

Commissioner Jeff Warr acknowledges that public safety is important but says another pressing issue commissioners had to think about when making this budget is the status of Smith County roads.

"The thing we've heard the most about because we've had to put it on the back burner is when we went to a maintenance only plan for the roads is that people really want their county roads rebuilt and redone, there is a lot of work to be done on them," Warr said.

The roads department was given an additional three million dollars this fiscal year. Warr says with this new budget, Smith County is at the same place as it was before the economic downturn.

"I think it speaks volumes of the planning of Smith County," Warr said. "We are in better financial shape than the county has literally ever been. and we have a very healthy reserve."

Sheriff Smith agrees that there are many facets to county operations that are important. But he is still left with a lot of concerns.

He isn't sure how he's going to retain current employees with a budget that doesn't allow for better pay..

"There are a lot of parts I'm very satisfied with but the benefits of the employee parts of this budget, I'm not satisfied with," Smith said.

Smith says he does think he will run out of overtime money for his staff and will have to go back and ask the commissioners for more money before the years end.


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