The Nebraska Association of County Officials is holding its annual conference this week in Kearney. The group’s executive director Larry Dix says juvenile issues are a major agenda item this year.
“We’re starting to see as counties is more and more juveniles are coming into contact with law enforcement and our court systems and mental health areas,” Dix says. “We’re looking to try to make a positive change in that, earlier on.”
Dix says many of Nebraska’s counties continue to struggle in the down economy with rising costs and stagnant tax revenues.
“We just have to weather the storm,” Dix says. “Hopefully, everything will turn around. We have to be able to provide an adequate amount of services but realize that sometimes we have to make tough choices on what services we do and what we just can’t afford to do anymore.”
This is the group’s 117th annual conference. Dix says there are many issues that are common for all of the state’s counties.
“Ten years ago, when I started, I think predominantly every county would say the road budget is the big budget item,” Dix says. “We now are at the tipping point where some counties say law enforcement and court systems are more than 50% of the budget.”
UNL Athletic Director Dr. Tom Osborne was the keynote speaker at the conference on Wednesday. The meeting runs through Friday.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton