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Gregg County adds $30,000 to mental health budget

By Glenn Evans
July 18, 2011 at 10 p.m.


Gregg County commissioners on Monday added $30,000 to its contract with a local mental health care facility to pay for increased demand for hospital beds for indigent patients.

The sum is in addition to $350,000 the county already is paying Community Healthcore to meet demand for mental health services this fiscal year.

"The public's got to understand this issue is going to get worse," County Judge Bill Stoudt said. "And it's going to continue to cost the county more money in the years ahead."

Community Healthcore provides case management, counseling and other services to mentally ill people in Northeast Texas.

Healthcore's annual contract with Gregg County includes $103,000 for use of sheriff's deputies trained to handle mental health issues, $90,000 to drive patients to and from hospitals, $100,000 for placement of mentally ill people in alternative settings and $57,000 for a county program to keep mentally ill people from repeated jail sentences.

The additional money OK'd Monday reflects increased demand on mental health hospitals from Gregg County residents.

"We're putting more people in beds," Stoudt said. "Our population, the mental health commitments from this office, are up probably 60 or 70 percent. It's a significant increase from a year ago."

Stoudt also distributed his proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2012, which begins Oct. 1. The $47.8 million proposal spends $7 million less than this year's budget.

"I would ask you all to look at this, review it," Stoudt told commissioners.

The budget awaits certification of local property values before revenue is known and a tax rate can be set.

Cuts in the 2012 plan include $1.3 million less for road and bridge work, and $2.7 million from the account for large, capital projects.

Budgeted projects include structural repairs and air conditioning work at the courthouse, costing an estimated $395,000.

Stoudt also included a 3 percent raise for non-elected county employees, their first cost-of-living raise in four years, he said.

Commissioners have been discussing building a county events center since the new year, but that project was not included in the proposal.

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