Morning Coffee Group Hears Beatrice Six Plight, Faced by Gage County

BEATRICE – A gathering at a downtown Beatrice business early Friday, gave people a chance to hear more about the Beatrice Six case challenges, being felt by county government and taxpayers.

County Board members Myron Dorn and Erich Tiemann provided information on what’s being faced as the county budgets to begin paying a more than $28 million civil judgment to six people who served prison sentences for a Beatrice murder and rape.  The six were exonerated by the State of Nebraska, following reexamination of DNA evidence.

Recently, the county approved its new budget, including a nearly 12-cent property tax rate hike to provide money that will begin paying the judgment.

County Board Chairman Myron Dorn says that brought the county to its maximum 50-cent limit.

:12                  “each year”

Gage County has pending lawsuits against two insurance carriers, hoping to recover and pay for part of the judgment.  Also pending is a request by Gage County for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the county’s appeal of an 8th U.S. Circuit Court ruling, which upheld the verdict and award.

At the current payment this year of about $3.8 million, it could take about eight years for the county to pay the entire amount.  This budget year, the county will make payments in the fall and the spring, following tax collections.

Dorn and Board Finance Chairman Erich Tiemann said it’s a case which attorneys have told the county, has never before been encountered by a Nebraska county.

:21                  “no one knows”

One option for the county is to declare bankruptcy…but, Dorn says that doesn’t remove the obligation to pay the judgment.

The Gage County Board had the options of raising taxes to the maximum 50 cents to begin paying the judgment, paying a lump sum of the judgment through a voter-approved bond issue, or convincing the State of Nebraska to help pay part or all of the judgment.

The morning meeting attended by about thirty people, was held at Home Instead Senior Care.

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