The head of the Gage County Democrats wants the state of Nebraska to pay a wrongful conviction jury award.
County Party chairman Don Schuller said paying off the $28.1 million award to the exonerated Beatrice Six will hurt all taxpayers.
“Even if reduced by insurance or an appeals court or spread out over years by bankruptcy, the demand on property owners will be excessive,” Schuller told board members during their meeting. “I believe the state has an obligation to pay the award and the cost related to the lawsuit. The tax burden on the property owners of Gage County is already a major factor.”
Schuller sent a letter to Governor Ricketts, seeking the financial help.
He said now is the time to make the request, before state budget work begins in the spring.
“These tax burdens may require the elimination of public services and government staff with salary and benefits,” he said. “New tax rates will scare away new businesses and homebuyers. Some current ones will be forced to leave or close with farms being sold to out of state investors. It is a grave situation for this county that will haunt us for decades.”
Schuller sent a letter to Governor Ricketts requesting the state foot the bill.
County officials will not comment while the case is pending before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Former St. Sen. George “Bill” Burrows also urged the county to seek help from the state attorney general’s office.
Burrows said the matter is not about politics.
“We’re all in the same boat on this. We’re all part of this county and we’re all paying taxes,” Burrows told board members. “It could be a heck of a blow.”
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this report.