Possible Oversight Puts Future Of El Reno Juvenile Center In Jeopardy

Wednesday, November 5th 2014, 5:35 pm
By: Karl Torp

For nearly two decades it has helped kids turn their lives around. But the future of a massive juvenile justice facility in Canadian County is now in doubt.

At issue is the language used on the original ballot in 1996, asking voters to pay for the Gary E. Miller Children's Justice Center with a sales tax levy. The tax now generates $6 million for the facility every year.

Canadian County Commissioners have questions about the language used on the original ballot, so they asked the Oklahoma Attorney General to take a closer look.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt feels the sales tax pays for the facility itself and its maintenance but “may not be used to pay the salaries and expenses related to the operation of a juvenile bureau, or its services.”

“If this is not fixed, we can't operate. The entire facility goes away,” said Bill Alexander, the co-facility director of the Children's Justice Center.

Canadian County Commissioner David Anderson feels the facility has grown much larger than was originally intended by voters in 1996.

“I don't think they ever envisioned that,” said Anderson.

Canadian County Commissioners will hold a meeting Thursday at 3 p.m. at their administrative offices in El Reno to discuss the future of the Children's Justice Center. The public is welcome to attend.

Anderson said funding for the center could be put up to the voters again.