County Officials Convene For Special Budget Meeting

by Stephen R. Juneau

County officials convened for a special budget meeting the morning of August 2, 2016 in Tyler County's Courthouse. Jackie Skinner, County Auditor, provided handouts detailing the county's budget. Ms. Skinner gave a positive report on the county's financial standing in today's challenging world. It was the result of responsible budgeting on the part of decision makers staying informed of current trends and laws by attending workshops for efficient governing, as well as their seeking out the best solutions in serving the people of Tyler County. This special budget meeting included the consideration to the rising cost of medical care for incarcerated individuals held in the county jail.

Ms. Skinner cited the medical cost on one inmate as being $6,500 every two weeks in order to meet the requirement of the law. In seeking out a more efficient means of handling medical needs of county inmates, officials are considering contracting with Southern Health Partners, a leading provider of customized inmate healthcare serving over 200 city and county detention centers across 13 states, including 20 counties in Texas.

Tim Quintana, marketing representative for Southern Health Partners, having served 38 years in Law Enforcement, offered his company's solution to the county's rising cost for inmate medical care. The base price for the county would be $6,400 monthly for up to 30 inmates with an additional $1.25 per day {around $38.00 per month} for each inmate above the thirty. Tyler County is currently housing 31 inmates in the Tyler County Jail.

Stevan Sturrock, Chief Deputy, noted that 50% of the earnings of inmates is put on their books {escrow} for expenses incurred by those individuals, including that of their medical cost. However, there are times when costs outweighs the escrow of certain inmates. That burden then rests with tax payers: the reason to consider greater efficiency for medical care on the part of inmates held in the county jail.

Quintana then stated: ‟The idea behind contracting with Southern Health Partners would be to take responsibility off the county and pass it on to us. If it does not work out, there is no long term commitment on the county and we can part ways." He went on to say that the base medical package includes a twice monthly on-site local physician / medical provider, as well as an RN for 20 hours a week; and 24/7 on call RN availability. The package sets out to reducing the high cost of unnecessary medical treatments including those at ER facilities through the screening of inmates requesting medical attention. The plan also includes overnight–pharmaceutical deliveries as well as the following services: Mental Health Care, Laboratory and Diagnostic Services, Medical Records Management, Patient and Correctional Staff Training with necessary manuals.
Commissioners will decide on the plan in a follow up budget meeting scheduled for August 29, at 9:00 a.m. in the Tyler County Court House.

Donece Gregory, County Clerk, mentioned of upcoming elections. They are: Warren ISD School Board on August 16 with Early Voting from August 1 – 12; Spurger ISD School Board on August 27 with Early Voting from August 10 - 23; and, the General Election on Nov. 8 with Early Voting from Oct. 24 – Nov. 4.

County officials present at this commissioners' meeting were: Jackie Skinner, Auditor who presided over the meeting; Martin Nash, Pct. 1; Rusty Hughes, Pct. 2; Mike Marshall, Pct. 3; Sue Saunders, Treasurer; Donece Gregory, County Clerk; Lynette Cruise, Tax Collector; Bryan Weatherford, Sheriff; and Stevan Sturrock, Chief Deputy. Tim Quintana, Marketing Representative with Southern Health Partners was guest presenter.

Commissioners regularly schedule meetings are held on the 2nd Monday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in the Tyler County Court House. In observance of holidays that fall on the 2nd Monday, they convene on Tuesdays.