BEATRICE – A county board chairman where a more than $28 million civil judgment has seriously impacted county government, said today he’s gauging interest in a legislative proposal that would allow counties to use a sales tax to pay federal civil judgments.
Myron Dorn is soon to become a State Senator for the 30th District, having won election to the position in November.
Under current state law, counties cannot collect a local sales tax in jurisdictions that also have a local sales tax… for example, in Beatrice.
This year, Gage County began paying the civil judgment in the Beatrice Six case, which is expected to stretch over the next seven to eight years. Staff of current State Senator Roy Baker have been working with bill drafting staff on proposed legislation that would allow for use of a county-wide sales tax to pay for federal judgments.
Dorn will take over for Baker, who opted not to run for another term, in early January.
Dorn says part of the effort involves researching how much revenue would be raised by a local sales tax.
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Six defendants were exonerated after each serving several years in prison for the rape and murder of a Beatrice woman, in 1985. Later, DNA testing implicated a lone suspect, who died in Oklahoma in 1992. The resulting federal jury decision and civil award against the county, is still under appeal.
Dorn says he does not plan to introduce the legislation without first seeking input and support from the Gage County Board.
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Dorn says the measure would be designed so that once the judgment is paid off, the local sales tax would end.
County Board member Erich Tiemann maintains that because criminal prosecution is a State of Nebraska duty, perhaps there should be a small increase in the state sales tax to pay off federal judgments.