A Closer Look: Proposed 2015 budget sparks debate in Fannin County

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FANNIN CO., Texas - Tensions ran high in Fannin County Commissioners court Monday, and Tuesday in a special public hearing about the proposed 2015 budget.

A week ago a jury convicted Thomas Taunton of murdering three family members in one of the biggest cases the County has ever prosecuted, but county commissioners were upset when they got the bill for one of the expert witnesses.

"Mr. Glaser had came down previously and told us that we could expect a bill for $2,000 to $4,000," said Fannin County Judge Spanky Carter.

But Glaser says he wasn't sure exactly how much the witness would cost, "I had a ballpark guess."

"Well yesterday we were presented with a bill for $25,000," said Judge Carter.

Judge Carter called the amount "unreasonable," and "out of touch."

District Attorney Richard Glaser explains they searched the State of Texas, but because no local psychiatrists were available, his office had to hire a psychiatrist from California who could examine Taunton, and testify to his sanity--or reschedule the trial after the County had already paid to house Taunton for 900 days.

"I couldn't afford not to have that evidence if it was needed," said Glaser.

Monday, commissioners also voted to spend more than $100,000 extra on housing inmates at the County Jail.

"You told me last year that we could either get you two more assistant DA's, or we could warehouse these prisoners, and I guess you had a crystal ball because our jail population certainly went up this year," Judge Carter told Glaser.

Glaser says he'd like to hire more prosecutors to empty the jail faster. Tuesday, he asked commissioners for an additional $14,000 to supplement his staff's salaries. He says he's been using state funds, but those are drying up.

"We told him at day one, 'hey, the math is not gonna work, at some point it's gonna come to a head,'" said Judge Carter.

Glaser says without the $14,000, his staff's salaries will decrease this year.

Judge Carter says he doesn't think they will be granting Glaser's request for additional funds.

Glaser told the court he needs to be able to pay attorneys enough to keep professional, experienced prosecutors in Fannin County.

In our next report, Daniella Rivera will take a closer look at how the proposed budget affects Fannin County law enforcement.