Agreement on juvenile justice center funding could be coming

EL RENO – A conference hearing to discuss the status of a lawsuit involving funding for the Canadian County Juvenile Center is scheduled for June 15 in Oklahoma County District Court, Canadian County officials said Tuesday.

The board of commissioners met in special session Tuesday to discuss the case.

The hour-long meeting, which included a 58-minute executive session, ended without action from the commissioners other than to ask their attorneys to follow the directions given in the closed door meeting.

The commissioners were sued in December 2014 by members of the county’s Citizen’s Advisory Board, two former county commissioners and then-sheriff Randall Edwards after the commissioners discontinued using a 1996 sales tax to fund programs at the county’s Juvenile Justice Center.

The commissioners claimed they were following an attorney general’s opinion that said the money from the sales tax initiative was limited to the construction, equipping and maintenance of the facility, located east of El Reno.

The plaintiff’s prevailed in obtaining a temporary restraining order and were able to get the funding from the tax restored, claiming that the money could be used for operations and other programs needed at the facility.

The commissioners eventually appealed the case to the state supreme court, where the justices upheld the district court decision.

The temporary restraining order remains in place. However, County Commissioner Marc Harder said after Tuesday’s meeting that it is possible the injunction could be made permanent in the near future.

The juvenile facility houses not only the detention center, but also a shelter, courtroom and educational programs.

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