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Judge to decide Juvenile Justice Center bond issue

juvenile justice center rendering
Posted at 5:53 PM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 19:11:08-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) -- — A decision on whether the public may eventually vote on funding the Douglas Co. Juvenile Justice Center is in the hands of a judge.

Attorneys for the City of Omaha and Douglas County, as well as the taxpayer had brief arguments during the trial in court on Thursday. Douglas County District Court Judge J. Michael Coffey has taken the arguments under advisement.

The city and county argue the NE State Legislature created building commissions so they could build facilities for both county and city needs.

"The concept is this is a facility that's going to be used by the city and county. Anybody who's arrested, most of the people arrested were arrested by the City of Omaha Police Department need to have a place to do it," said Bernard In Den Bosch, Deputy Omaha City Attorney.

The taxpayer, former Supreme Court Justice David Lanphier says the city and county shouldn't be able to sell bonds for the proposed Douglas Co. Juvenile Justice Center because only the county would own the building, so it should be voted on by citizens.

Gregory Sechser runs Howlin' Hounds Coffee and is the President of Our Omaha. He says people deserve a say in what their money is spent on.

“It's pretty clear that if it's a county jail paid for by the county, ran by the county, why is the city financing it? It makes no sense at all. Have the county finance it and put it to a vote of the people and enjoy a higher bond rating and a lot more democracy and transparency," Sechser explained.

If Judge Coffey rules in favor of Lanphier it will likely go to a vote of the people, and if he rules in favor of the city/county the bonds won’t need a public vote.

Both sides will submit written arguments by December 2. The judge will rule after that.