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Omaha City Council approves plan for new juvenile justice center

Mayor Stothert
Posted at 3:56 PM, Jun 18, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Following Tuesday's approval by Omaha City Council, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has decided to allow the proposed agreement on moving the juvenile justice center from midtown to downtown and courthouse annex to take effect.

City Council voted 4-2 to approve financing for the proposed Omaha courthouse annex and juvenile detention center.

Members of the Douglas County Board have pushed for the $114 million project for nearly a year--a proposal that has drawn heavy criticism from those who believe the detention center won't be large enough and doesn't belong downtown.

Included in the proposal is a 64-bed juvenile detention center that is planned to be connected to the courthouse. This would replace Douglas County's current juvenile detention center with 96 beds.

Mayor Stothert is not signing the ordinance but has not vetoed the measure.

Read Mayor Stothert's statement below:
Following Omaha City Council approval today, I have decided to allow the latest proposed agreement between the City of Omaha, Douglas County, and Public Building Commission to take effect without my signature.

This agreement will provide expanded and improved courthouse facilities and office space. The courthouse annex portion represents the vast majority of the cost of the full project and is broadly supported.

The juvenile detention and services center portion of the full project has been more controversial. Progress has been made over many months on the programmatic needs of the juvenile justice project. Mission planning among elected officials, law enforcement, juvenile justice leaders, and philanthropic supporters has resulted in encouraging work that will help us better address youth in crisis.

However, I am very concerned that too few beds will be available in the new detention facility to address future needs, including city growth. The additional programs and services that will address and affect detention needs are critical to juvenile justice reform and in making this project work for children, families, and taxpayers. This challenge will require everyone’s flexibility, creativity, and commitment in the months and years ahead.

Finally, while this is a Douglas County project, the impact of bond funding for the project will result in a property tax rate increase by the Douglas County Commission on county residents, which I do not support. It is also for this reason that I will return the ordinance unsigned.