Related topics

Massive settlement in Beatrice 6 case takes toll on county finances

December 10, 2018 GMT

BEATRICE - This is the first full budget year for Gage County to take on payment of the Beatrice 6 case civil judgment — which exceeds $28-million dollars.

Gage County Board finance chairman Erich Tiemann won’t say it’s adversely affected operations, but the impact is being felt.

“We’re still trying to do business as normal,” Tiemann says. “If you asked the sheriff, he’s going to say it is adversely affecting us because he really cut dollars out of the budget.”

Tiemann says the county went line-by-line figuring out what could be cut from the budget.

“We’re operating as normal. Everyone’s still coming to work every day and doing their job,” Tiemann says. “At the same time, that’s still looming all the time. My phrase is always, ‘Don’t buy it unless you absolutely need it,’ because when it comes to the board, it has to be justified.”

Tiemann says everyone is trying to “run lean and still make things happen,” knowing the county has a huge settlement to pay. That payment is expected to stretch over seven to eight years, perhaps longer, depending on trends in property valuation and the tax support that can be used.

Gage County suffered recent setbacks with adverse legal rulings indicating that insurance coverage would not pay part of the judgment. Those rulings are on appeal.

Gage County is also awaiting word on whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the county’s last-resort appeal of the civil rights verdict and judgment, which granted damages to the six people exonerated in a 1985 murder and rape case in Beatrice.

Tiemann says he isn’t confident the case will be accepted by the nation’s high court for review.

“You have to go through the process, as long as it is, and try to make your case,” Tiemann says. “Our brief is in. Now, it’s just a waiting game to see if they’ll take that case.”

Tiemann anticipates hearing more about the insurance appeals during the first quarter of next year.