“Beatrice Six” Judgment Payment to Prompt Significant Increase in County Tax Request

BEATRICE – Preparing to make the first payment of a $28.1 million civil judgment in the Beatrice Six case, Gage County government’s property tax request would go up about 46%, under a budget plan set to go before a public hearing next month.

The property tax request for Gage County, totaling over $12.61 million, compares to the past year’s request of some $8.63 million.  Adding taxes for a remaining bond issue, Gage County’s total request for the coming year would be about $13.58 million.

County officials established a judgment line item for the initial Beatrice Six case payment of over $3.8 million, made only after the tax money is actually collected.

Erich Tiemann is the Gage County Board’s Finance Chairman.

:53                  “some of that worry”

Tiemann said the goal was to keep the budget as low as possible, still accounting for labor and jail expense costs.  Tiemann says cuts were made and there was, in his words, “not a lot of increase, anywhere”.

:21                  “about it”

The county tax request because of the civil judgment, amounts to an approximate 11.76-cent levy increase.  Counties are limited to a total 50 cents, and Gage County is up against that limit.

Because the county’s property tax request is a part of citizens overall tax bill, Supervisor John Hill says the increase overall ranges from a six to eight percent property tax hike, depending on the tax district where a person resides.

Gage County is awaiting a decision as to whether the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will hear the county’s appeal of the federal court jury decision and judgment, in the case involving six people convicted but exonerated by DNA evidence, in a 1985 murder and rape of a Beatrice woman.

Gage County Officials had the option of a bond issue to pay the judgment….one not likely to be approved by voters.   Current state law does not allow counties to be loaned state funds, for paying judgments.

Board Chairman Myron Dorn says the budget figures will be officially published and will be part of the public hearing and approval of the budget, in two weeks.

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