WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The state of Texas makes every county pay to house those who should be in state mental institutions and state prisons. As we reported tonight at 6 county officials say the people who pay property taxes are the ones saddled with the bill.
Wichita County Commissioner Lee Harvey says they need to make people aware of programs that are property tax funded that shouldn't be - that should be funded by sales tax. Such as indigent defense, the cost to house both people with mental health issues and convicted felons. He says sometimes it takes state officials a month to pick up prisoners while county taxpayers pay for their incarceration. He says they should be picked up as soon as they are paper ready. We reached out to Texas State Representative James Frank for his response.
"I do very much agree with (Commissioner Harvey's) point that the state needs to pay for what the state should when he was talking about the prisoners being paper ready. There is no question - and I am actually carrying legislation at the request of the county officials to have the state pay for the prisoner as soon as it should be the state's responsibility because right now they don't and I don't think that's right."
He says whether it's the state budget or the county budget each have very difficult jobs to do to balance it and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. He says the default decision seems to be to raise taxes but he doesn't think that's always the answer.
Rep. Frank says he plans to meet with Commissioner Harvey on the issues.