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Complaints delay NETHealth funding

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TYLER (KYTX) -

Smith County commissioners are going down to the wire on the county's $200,000 portion of next year's budget for the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

Commissioners tabled a vote Tuesday morning, saying they're concerned about recent complaints over food vendor inspections at the East Texas State Fair.

Some of those vendors believe Smith County has overly tough food safety standards.

Several said they have a hard time justifying coming to the East Texas State Fair.

"Sometimes we struggle to find food vendors because it's difficult to get in here," fair president John Sykes said.

Sykes said he fielded calls before this year's fair in which food vendors either attempted to, or did, pull out at the last minute based on past experience with food safety inspectors.

"Our mission is to prevent illness, promote health and protect our community and we want to make sure when people go to a restaurant or food establishment that they don't get sick," NETHealth CEO George Roberts said.

Roberts said he is open to a discussion with county leaders, but he implored them to avoid withholding a vital portion of his operating budget for a fiscal year that starts just one week from now.

Commissioners will re-consider the issue on Tuesday, October 1. The City of Tyler is still considering its own agreement with NETHealth.

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