Several Ellis County residents appeared before the county commissioners Monday during a public hearing for the 2015 – 2016 county budget.

The seven citizens spoke during the public hearing of Monday’s afternoon meeting, asking why the budget for Precinct 3 had been reduced.

“I am asking all five of you to take politics out of the budget. Common sense tells me it takes more money to maintain more roads,” said resident Karen Attwood. “The proposed budget will be an injustice to Precinct 3.”

The Ellis County balanced budget was posted Friday, with a $280,000 increase dedicated to roads and bridges, a 3 percent cost of living adjustment for all county employees and the addition of four full-time and one part-time employees, and $1,128,166 in revenue generated from new property added to the tax roll this year, according to a Daily Light column by County Judge Carol Bush. However, commissioner Paul Perry, who represents Precinct 3, stated the Road and Bridge budget also shows how his budget is the only budget cut, while the other commissioners’ budgets saw increases, according to a statement given to the Daily Light.

“Precinct 3 is the largest precinct by far, in terms of road miles. This has every appearance of being retaliation,” the statement read. “If one is considering the whole county, one has to consider that Precinct 3, at more than 290 miles — about 200 paved miles, is approximately 50 miles larger than the next largest precinct. Our total county revenues are up by about 8 percent, yet the Pct. 3 budget is going down while all three other commissioners’ budgets are increasing.”

“We have roads and bridges that are in need of repairs now. Reducing the budget for this precinct will delay these repairs as well as others that will come up,” resident Bobby Brown said at the meeting.

Attwood and Brown were joined by others that passionately asked the commissioners and Bush why the budget was not a more even budget and why the precincts weren’t funded equally.

“The Pct. 2 Constable’s office has a 10-year-old vehicle as the last vehicle provided in the County Budget process. We have two other vehicles that are in the ‘fleet,’ a 2009 Dodge Charger provided through the Emissions Enforcement Grant back in 200," said Precinct 2 Chief Deputy Constable Brad Elliott. "We also purchased a used Chevrolet Tahoe with forfeiture funds to supplement the other aging vehicles that were returned to the county in 2013. We have never received vehicles from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department. Precincts 1, 3, and 4 were all provided brand new Chevrolet Tahoes two years ago. We would like to see either an increase in auto repairs/maintenance to maintain our existing aging vehicles or a replacement vehicle suitable for daily emergency vehicle use.”

While each of the residents faced the commissioners, the commissioners remained silent without comments.

Constable Mike Jones also faced a questioning court as he tried to justify a $3,800 repair to a wrecked patrol car.

Bush asked for details about the wreck, to which Jones said the accident occurred in a Walmart parking lot. Bush then asked if this vehicle previously was involved in an accident. Jones responded that it had been, but county mechanics repaired it.

Jones was also asked about the number of cars his precinct had and asked why one of the other cars could not replace the wrecked one.

“Could we possible take a newer car from the sheriff’s office to replace this one?” Bush asked Jones.

“I’d rather repair this one as it is used as a patrol car and has a dash camera,” Jones said.

The commissioners finally unanimously agreed to repair the Constable Precinct 4 car at a cost of $3,800 out of county’s general funds. Jones agreed to replace the damaged dash camera out of his budget.

“All of the department’s emergency response cars have been repaired,” said Capt. Chuck Laubach, with the sheriff’s office, commenting on a repair needed on 10 Dodge patrol cars possibly facing recall because of a defective air bag.

The commissioners also agreed to continue the burn ban currently in effect.

CORRECTION: Precinct 2 Chief Deputy Constable Brad Elliott was misquoted in the story. Elliott’s comments to the commissioners should have stated: “The Pct. 2 Constable’s office has a 10-year-old vehicle as the last vehicle provided in the County Budget process. We have two other vehicles that are in the ‘fleet,’ a 2009 Dodge Charger provided through the Emissions Enforcement Grant back in 2008. We also purchased a used Chevrolet Tahoe with forfeiture funds to supplement the other aging vehicles that were returned to the county in 2013. We have never received vehicles from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department. Precincts 1, 3, and 4 were all provided brand new Chevrolet Tahoes two years ago. We would like to see either an increase in auto repairs/maintenance to maintain our existing aging vehicles or a replacement vehicle suitable for daily emergency vehicle use.” The article has been updated to reflect that change.