POSTED: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 5:24pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 4:34pm
Smith County-- Smith County is barely scraping by with its budget. Now, they have to cut more than $7 million compared to the budget they had last year.
Smith County Commissioners met this morning to go over a new proposed budget. They have already reduced employee insurance benefits, and now they may reduce retirement and other benefits.
As County Judge Joel Baker proposes the new budget, the debate begins over what areas are best to cut. Judge Baker says they cut every expense possible before they looked at cutting jobs.
Now, they're looking at eliminating part-time and temporary jobs in the county, along with a few full-time positions. Up to 30 jobs could be lost if the court approves.
The $5.4 million gap needs even more than this to be filled. The court is also proposing a tax increase of about $55 a year to the average homeowner. Judge Baker says, "No one wants a tax increase, but, unfortunately, they still want the services that the county provides."
He also says that 69% of the budget goes to law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and the judicial system. He says it's almost impossible to cut in those fields. This means the other 31% is taking the hit.