Winter 2023 County Lines

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Page 5 History is Made WINTER 2023 County Lines County Lines ARORP Update Page 23 At the Capitol Page 30

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In This Issue

Winter 2023


AG Announces Intent to Work with Cities, Counties..................25

Steel Industry Transforming Mississippi County.........................28

Scenes from the State Capitol.......................................................30

AAC Staff Profile: Karel Ortega......................................................33

AAC Staff Profile: Madison Folsom..............................................33

AAC Photo Recap: County Treasurers..........................................35

AAC Photo Recap: County Coroners.........................................36

AAC Photo Recap: Circuit Clerks....................................................37

AAC Photo Recap: Assessors.........................................................38

AAC Photo Recap: County Judges..............................................39

AAC Photo Recap: County Sheriffs...............................................40


Cover Notes: History is made in the Governor’s office

History was made on Jan. 10, 2023, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was inaugurated as the 47th — and first woman — Governor of Arkansas. She also is currently the youngest governor in the country. In addition to her husband, First Gentleman Bryan Sanders, and her children, Sanders was joined by her parents, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and First Lady Janet Huckabee, on the special day. A large group of county officials also attended the inaugural ceremony.

the Director’s Desk...................................................................7 President’s Perspective.....................................................................9 AAC Research Corner.......................................................................14 Seems to Me.....................................................................................16
......................................................................20 Litigation Lessons............................................................................21 ARORP Update..................................................................................23
Governmental Affairs
AAC Risk Management Services...................................................26 AAC Member Benefits......................................................................27 News from NACo: SALT Deduction................................................32
from NACo: Recover Fund Contact Center.........................42
(Photos by Sarah Perry)
— Photos by Sarah Perry, AAC Communications Coordinator


April 5-7 County Clerks

Hilton Garden Inn, Little Rock

April 13-14


Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Petit Jean Mountain

April 22

75-Member AAQC Meeting

AAC, Little Rock

May 9-11

Judges Road Seminar

Norfork River Resort, Norfork

May 31-June 2


Hotel Hot Springs, Hot Springs

Contact AAC

Chris Villines, Executive Director

Anne Baker, Executive Assistant

Loretta Green, Receptionist

Eddie A. Jones, Consultant

Mark Whitmore, Chief Legal Counsel

Colin Jorgensen, AAC Litigation Counsel

Josh Curtis, Governmental Affairs Director

Lindsey French, Legal Counsel

Christy L. Smith, Communications Director

Sarah Perry, Communications Coordinator

Michael Roys, ACE Program Coordinator

June 4-7


Embassy Suites, Jonesboro

June 13-16

Circuit Clerks

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Petit Jean Mountain

June 20-23

County Clerks

Embassy Suites, Jonesboro

June 21-23


Holiday Inn, Texarkana

June 27-30


Embassy Suites, Hot Springs

AAC Mission Statement

The Association of Arkansas Counties supports and promotes the idea that all elected officials must have the opportunity to act together in order to solve mutual problems as a unified group. To further this goal, the Association of Arkansas Counties is committed to providing a single source of cooperative support and information for all counties and county and district officials.

The overall purpose of the Association of Arkansas Counties is to work for the improvement of county government in the state of Arkansas. The Association accomplishes this purpose by providing legislative representation, on-site assistance, general research, training, various publications and conferences to assist county officials in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of their office.

1415 West Third Street Little Rock, AR 72201 (501) 372-7550 phone / (501) 372-0611 fax

Cindy Posey, Accountant

Jenny Evans, Accounting & Program Assistant

Mark Harrell, IT Manager

Risk Management/ Workers’ Compensation

Debbie Norman, Risk Mgmt. & Insurance Director

Misty Petrus, Workers’ Comp Claims Mgr.

Cathy Perry, Program Analyst

Kim Nash, Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster

Renee Turner,Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster

Jacob Trumble, Claims Analyst

Greg Hunt, Claims Analyst

Kim Mitchell, Premium Analyst

Karen Bell, Program Assistant

Ellen Wood, Admin. Asst./Receptionist

Brandy McAllister, RMS Counsel

JaNan Thomas, RMS Litigation Counsel

Melissa Dugger, RMS Litigation Counsel

Aaron Newell, RMS Litigation Counsel

Mallory Floyd, RMS Employment Counsel

Fonda Fitzgerald, RMS Paralegal

Shantina Osborn, RMS Paralegal

Samantha Wren, RMS Legal Assistant

Karel Ortega, RMS Legal Assistant

James Mirus, Member Services Manager


County Lines

County Lines [(ISSN 2576-1137 (print) and ISSN 2576-1145 (online)] is the official publication of the AAC. It is published quarterly. For advertising inquiries, subscriptions or other information, please contact

Christy L. Smith at 501.372.7550.

Executive Director/Publisher

Chris Villines Communications Director/ Managing Editor

Christy L. Smith

Communications Coordinator/ Editor

Sarah Perry

AAC Executive Board:

Debbie Wise – President

Brandon Ellison – Vice President

Jimmy Hart – Secretary-Treasurer

Tommy Young Deanna Sivley

Debra Buckner Dana Baker

Kevin Cleghorn Terry McNatt

Rebecca Talbert Doug Curtis

Gerone Hobbs Marty Boyd

John Montgomery Heather Stevens

Brenda DeShields Selena Blair

National Association of Counties

(NACo) Board Affiliations

Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is Randolph County Circuit Clerk and president of the AAC Board of Directors.

Brandon Ellison: NACo board member. He is Polk County Judge and vice-president of the AAC Board of Directors.

Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He is a member of the Jefferson County Quorum Court.

Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge.

Rusty McMillon: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is Greene County Judge

Kevin Smith: IT Standing Committee. He is the Sebastian County Director of Information Technology Services.

Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner.

Paul Elliott: Vice-Chair of Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, vice-chair of law enforcement subcommittee. He is a member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court.

Ellen Foote: Community, Economic & Workforce Development Steering Committee. She is the Crittenden County Tax Collector.

Tawanna Brown:Telecommunications & Technology Steering Committee. She is Chief Computer Operator for Crittenden County.


Legislative rollercoaster is coming to a stop soon

As we ease from winter to spring, the biennial ritual of a legislative session is in full force here in Little Rock. We have a few weeks remaining to wrap up county work, but it has been a successful session as many of our package bills are either signed into law or well on their way to Governor Sanders’ desk.

The 94th General Assembly has accomplished a great deal already, with the LEARNS Act now finished up. But more remains, including a significant criminal justice bill that will include new prison beds to help ease our chronic jail overcrowding, passage of the Revenue Stabilization Act (the annual funding mechanism for all of state government) and likely a reduction in state income taxes as well.

Many times, you hear the phrase “watching the legislature is like watching someone make sausage.” This may be a trite comment, but it fits because it is so true. The back-and-forth machinations of creating law are something to behold. What appears to many on the outside as heated discussions between parties about the pros and cons of legislation are truly the best way for all positions to be weighed and for legislators to make policy determinations that work best for the people of Arkansas.

Those that have been doing this for a while have generally developed a thick skin to the philosophical arguing that takes place in the Capitol, but from time to time the most seasoned legislator, lobbyist or interested party can let passion get the best of them. I am proud to work with a wonderful and seasoned lobbying team at the Association of Arkansas Counties that focuses on explaining county positions with civility.

Our team consists of Eddie Jones, Mark Whitmore, Lindsey French, Josh Curtis and myself — and our days begin early and end late as we track our AAC Legislative Package while simultaneously following hundreds of bills that have an impact on what our counties do. We each are often asked at this point in a session if we are tired and ready for it to end … and just like everyone else with front row views of a session our honesty compels us to answer yes. But one constant remains that gives us all strength — our love for county government.

It is a lot easier to plod through a legislative session when you believe wholeheartedly in what you represent. And it gives everyone strength when we see your smiling faces coming through our doors on your way up the hill to convey your passion for good government. I truly believe our lobbying position is strong because we represent the best of humankind in county public servants. You are respected by your legislators, and we get to be part of that relationship.

Soon the legislature will wrap up, and we will begin assessing all the bills that have passed. The helpful bills always outnumber those that harm us, and your watchful eyes on the bills that are filed help us tremendously. Keep up that good work. Keep coming through the office as well. It truly helps.

Chris Villines AAC Executive Director

Once finished, we will compile a list of acts that affect county government and host you in Little Rock where we will give a recap of the session. In addition, we will take this discussion on the road to each of your continuing education meetings to dig down a little deeper into what might affect your specific office.

That brings me to one more point. Many of you are now entering your second quarter as a newly elected county official. The best thing you can do in your new role is to reach out to other officials in your same role. I discussed this during your new-elect trainings in December, but I’d like to reiterate it in this column. There is nothing more valuable for you, in your position, than getting involved in your continuing education program.

Your job is unique. Nobody in your county has your job, or one remotely similar. Nobody in business can relate to the awkward but necessary laws you must adhere to in your office. Furthermore, there is no good way to learn how to improve your office but for dialogue with your

colleagues across county lines.

Our county associations have built incredibly effective programs, and you will never regret getting involved in their (usually) three times per year meetings. It’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with our AAC staff and your liaison for our association. So, plan on attending. Mark your calendars now and save those dates this year for our meetings.

Finally, please don’t forget about a great opportunity the AAC has in place for our state’s college-bound graduates. Our scholarship program is administered by the AAC Scholarship Committee and staffed by Executive Assistant Anne Baker. If you or a co-worker have a child or grandchild about to head off to school, please encourage them to apply for an AAC Scholarship. Decisions will be made this spring and application information can be found on our website at

Hold on tight, friends. The legislative rollercoaster should be coming to a stop soon, and I look forward to reconnecting with you all in the days that follow.

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A leadership example to follow

It’s time for me to formally welcome all the new county and district officials who took office in January. By this time, you have gotten your feet wet and probably have a lot of questions. As you seek answers to those questions, I urge you to utilize all the tools available to you — this magazine, the list servs, your continuing education meetings, and your liaisons at the AAC.

I also encourage you to assess your role as a leader in your office, your association, and your community.

As a county or district official, you are automatically considered a leader in your community. And that means you must develop and work alongside others to achieve success on a larger scale.

Some of you have already taken on leadership positions in your association, and others have gotten involved in the legislative process. I applaud you for that. The more you can learn and become involved in the activities taking place outside of your office, the better. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

AAC Consultant Eddie A. Jones is a prime example of someone who did just that. As a result, he has become a leader among leaders in county government. Most of you heard him speak about budgeting during your new elect seminar in December. But his expertise goes far beyond just budgeting.

Eddie is a former Randolph County treasurer and a former director of the AAC.

When he was interviewed for this magazine in 2007 after becoming director of the AAC, he said, “County government has been a passion of mine for many years. I relish the opportunity to lead AAC. I intend to work hard and work for all nine affiliate associations of AAC. I will work for every elected county official in the state. I work for you, and I plan to do my very best. I want good things to happen for

county government. I will continue to urge myself and the staff to strive for excellence.”

He did not speak of working to ensure his success. He spoke of working to ensure the success of county officials and of county government overall — and he has done just that in his various roles. Through the years he has served as a mentor and friend to many, including myself. His guidance has inspired me to be the best I can be, both personally and professionally.

Eddie writes a column for this magazine. Over the course of the years, he has written about topics such as ethics, using knowledge to act wisely, leadership, and more.

In the Fall 2022 issue of County Lines, he wrote a column entitled “Being a leader is not about you!” He spoke about how leaders must step up and help others succeed.

“The ultimate measure of leaders is their ability to help those around them become successful. It’s not about them helping you become successful; it’s about a selfless devotion to the people who work to help the county achieve its purpose and goals,” he wrote.

I encourage you to keep those words at the forefront of your mind and aspire to be the type of leader Eddie A. Jones is.

Did an aspect of county government “make news” recently in your county? Did any of your county officials or staff get an award, appointment or pat on the back? Please let us know about it for the next edition of County Lines magazine. You can write up a couple of paragraphs about it, or if something ran in your local paper, call and ask them to forward the story to us. We encourage you or your newspaper to attach a good quality photo, too: e-mail

Wise Randolph County Circuit Clerk / AAC Board President
DEBBIE WISE AAC Board President; Randolph County Circuit Clerk
Debbie Wise
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Freedom to harass

The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is paramount in ensuring democracy through governmental transparency and serves as a reminder that the government serves the people, not the other way around. Although FOIA is an incredibly useful tool in holding the government accountable, there must be a balance between the public’s right to know what agencies are doing and the agencies’ ability to perform their duties. Arkansas has failed to strike that balance.

During the 2023 general session, legislators will have two big opportunities to address some of the shortcomings in Arkansas FOIA laws. The first will be to protect coroner’s reports from being released during impending criminal investigations. The second will be to create reasonable deterrence from those weaponizing FOIA requests against city and county officials. It is up to the 94th General Assembly to bring Arkansas up to standard and provide the same protections the majority of the country already provides.

As we look toward the future, it’s important to celebrate the progress made thus far. In 2021, the state legislature passed Act 778, an amendment to Ark. Code Ann. § 2519-112. This statute concerns the production of audio and visual media by state law enforcement agencies and detention centers. The bill’s intent was to counterbalance the volume and scope of FOIA requests that law enforcement officers, dispatchers and detention personnel were receiving, and to compensate them for their time under certain circumstances.

Prior to its enactment, county employees were required to spend hours, if not days, viewing and redacting audio and visual media to fulfill these requests. Without deterrence for the requestor to do so reasonably, counties were overburdened with outlandish and overinclusive requests.

In 2019, Washington County received 32 requests that took over three hours each to fulfill. Requests included 13 hours of video media and 25 hours of media spanning over 17 separate videos. In 2020, the county received 19 requests that each took over three hours to fulfill, including requests for 14 hours, 13 hours, and 30 hours of video media. The time needed to search, redact and compile requests similar to these makes it difficult for county personnel to comply with the three-day turnaround requirement imposed by FOIA, especially without being compensated for their work.

Subsequently, Act 778 has provided agencies some relief from vexatious requests. Arkansas law now allows city, county and state personnel to be paid for their work of fulfilling time consuming requests. More specifically, employees’ work is compensable when viewing and redacting media takes longer than three hours. Additionally, it allows an agency to require

prepayment if the requested material will take longer than three hours to produce. This is a necessary deterrence and requires the requestors to be mindful and concise when submitting requests for information.

Although this is a step in the right direction for Arkansas, there is still work to be done in order to better serve state and county officials. This term, legislation is anticipated to be introduced to the General Assembly that is targeted to address some of the shortcomings in the state’s FOIA laws. There are two bills that are of particular importance to counties, one that will cover coroner reports and the other will combat the harassment of governmental officials.

Protection of Coroners Reports During Criminal Investigations and Proceedings

Rep. Dwight Tosh and Sen. Blake Johnson have filed HB1557 to address issues with coroners’ investigations and reports. Under Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-312, the reports, records, autopsies and postmortems of the Arkansas Crime Laboratory and Medical Examiner are privileged during ongoing criminal investigations. These records are to be released only to a limited group of individuals, including next of kin, criminal defendants, legal counsel and prosecutors of a criminal case. However, coroners’ reports are subject to FOIA and only remain confidential until the time the coroner issues his or her final report, even if the materials are being used to aid in an ongoing criminal investigation.

Shockingly, this means the coroner will be unable to withhold his or her report from public inspection should the Crime Lab or Medical Examiner send them documents in due course. If the records, files and information created and compiled from the Crime Lab are protected information through the entirety of a criminal investigation, why does the law not protect the same information while in the hands of a coroner?

This loophole defies all logic and common sense and fails to preserve the overall integrity of criminal investigations. The investigating agency’s ability to limit public access to this kind of information is integral to solving criminal cases. By allowing the public access to this information before the case is closed, agencies not only face unnecessary burdens and obstacles, but deny officers the evidence and resources they need

Madison Folsom Law Clerk

to complete a prompt and thorough investigation.

This term, legislators are proposing to amend Ark. Code Ann. § 14-15-304 to close this loophole. The amendment provides that the reports, records, autopsies and postmortems of the Crime Lab and Medical Examiner remain confidential even if sent to coroners, until the criminal investigation is complete in accordance with § 12-12-312. Failing to do so will ultimately delay cases from being solved, or worse, be the difference between solved and unsolved cases.

Creating Reasonable Guardrails to Curb Harassing or Vexatious FOIA Requests

Despite best efforts, the enactment of Act 778 of 2021 did not address the magnitude of harassing or vexatious FOIA requests received by counties. Arkansas currently allows requesters to file as many or as large of requests as they want, without providing the agency any assurance that it will be made in good faith. This means state and county agencies must work under the assumption that requestors will provide adequate descriptions of the information sought and that the scope of information will be somewhat reasonable.

It is critical that both parties work under this assumption to strike the balance between governmental transparency and governmental function. Most requesters, including those from news and media outlets, work with agencies to maintain this balance. Nonetheless, an inevitable imbalance is created when the minority of requesters, who refuse to work under this assumption, generate the majority of requests as a way to harass the government. For this reason, the current law is unworkable and perpetuates a lopsided dynamic, leaving governmental agencies at the mercy of the minority. These requests can only be described as unduly burdensome, harassing and “vexatious,” a term used to describe repeated or frivolous requests that are made to annoy the agency. Some factors used to determine whether the requests rise to this level include the number of requests, scope of information requested, nature or subject matter of the request, or an overall pattern of requests that impact the agency’s operations or functions. This type of request not only ties up governmental resources, but it also makes it incredibly burdensome for agencies to comply with the legal requirements imposed by FOIA. Unfortunately, these requests have become just another part of the job for most city and county employees.

To best describe this dynamic, it is important to note a few things about the current law. First, Arkansas allows state agencies three business days to respond to FOIA requests and provide the requested information, assuming it isn’t exempted by statute (Ark. Code. Ann. 25-19-105). If an agency fails to provide the information requested or wrongfully rejects the request, that employee is potentially subject

to a Class C misdemeanor under Ark. Code. Ann. 2519-105. Although a misdemeanor is technically minor in comparison to a felony, it isn’t insignificant. It is, however, a charge state employees hope to keep off their records. For this reason, they have learned it is in their best interest to not fight harassing requests.

The threat of a Class C misdemeanor looms over employees when (1) the agency is bombarded with large, frivolous requests that require hours to review and redact confidential information before they can be released; (2) the agency is unsure whether the information is subject to FOIA; or (3) the agency does not have the means or personnel to keep up with the number of requests, in addition to their ordinary duties.

Next, like all state and federal FOIA laws, Ark. Code. Ann. 25-19-105 does not allow the state to charge a requester for costs other than what is necessary to produce the information. This includes the cost of supplies, equipment, and maintenance. Federal FOIA guidelines allow states to factor employee time into the overall cost of production, which many states have already adopted. This would allow agencies to charge requesters for information that takes longer than two hours to fulfill. Arkansas, however, currently does not compensate personnel for the time searching, compiling and redacting information.

It is this combination that allows this minority of requesters free range to request as much and as often as they want. Agencies work overtime to fulfill unduly burdensome requests to comply with FOIA’s legal requirements. State, county, and city employees are facing overt harassment and work in fear of possible legal sanctions against them while having nothing to show for it. The law has incentivized requesters to abuse the system because they understand that fear leads to compliance. Legislators failed to predict, however, that state employees also have an incentive: to get out of this line of work while they still can.

This term, legislators are proposing an amendment to Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105, which would provide a workable parameter to deter FOIA abuse, while ensuring citizens’ right to inspect government information. First, agencies will be allowed to charge the rate of the lowest paid employee with the necessary skill and training to respond, if the time needed for personnel to retrieve, review, redact, and provide records exceeds two hours. Second, the records custodian may require a requester to pay in advance if the estimated fees exceed $10, instead of the $25 the law already provides for. Third, a custodian may refuse to fulfill any new requests made by delinquent requesters until outstanding dues from fulfilled requests are paid in full. Fourth, it would give personnel a safe harbor when requests cannot be retrieved, reviewed,



redacted and provided within the three working day requirement. If necessary, the custodian would be required to send written notice of the delay and include the date and time the records will be available, the reason for delay and an estimated breakdown of the time necessary to fulfill the request.

After speaking to multiple county officials, a bill addressing these issues is long overdue. Van Buren County Judge Dale James described how the city of Fairfield Bay saw a drastic increase in FOIA requests after the Fairfield Bay Emergency Medical Services, the city’s all volunteer ambulance service, shut down in the summer of 2021. Since then, four residents have requested approximately 12,000 pages, or a stack of documents about 10-inches tall, worth of communications surrounding the shut down between Mayor Linda Duncan and the EMS department. Judge James believes these requests are “nefarious in nature.” Although not all the information requested is subject to FOIA’s protections, the Van Buren County attorney has advised the city of Fairfield Bay that it will be easier to just produce all or most of the information the requestors are seeking instead of subjecting themselves to potential liability. For this reason, requesters have learned to abuse the system because they know the city will eventually just produce the records.

The same requesters have now turned their harassing tactics against the Fairfield Bay volunteer fire department. As a result, members of the fire department recently voted on whether they wanted to shut down operations due to the magnitude of FOIA requests they have received. For now, the members have opted to keep providing services. Absent legislation directed to alleviate the constant strain to which they are subjected, it is uncertain how long they will be willing to keep their doors open.

If the department closes, they will not have been the first to succumb to the abuse. Five members of Fairfield Bay’s Office of Emergency Management Team have already quit their jobs to search for new employment over FOIA requests. A city with a population of about 2,000 cannot afford to lose the backbone of its community. Yet, if nothing changes, that is where Fairfield Bay is heading.

Unfortunately, in speaking with other state and county officials, it is clear this experience is not isolated to Van Buren County. For example, the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office has seen a strikingly similar pattern of requests. Most notably, these requesters have taken a more menacing approach as they have learned how to use FOIA most effectively to target individual state and county officials.

Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley said the requests began

in January 2022 and are attributable to his reelection as sheriff. The majority of information sought is requested by a few self-proclaimed public servants and disgruntled former employees. Seemingly, these individuals take the information requested from several, unrelated events and use it out of context to generate content for their social media. In a poor attempt to gain relevance, they have set their sights on elected officials like Sheriff Staley by whatever means necessary. In their eyes, county employees serve one purpose — a means to an end.

Sheriff Staley’s name and character may be the intended target of these attacks and falsities, but he emphasized that he isn’t the one who ultimately suffers from the harm. Instead, it is those few people left to fulfill the mounds of requests. The Sheriff’s Office has one employee whose only job is to fulfill FOIA requests and two that have had to take on additional responsibilities to help complete them in a timely manner. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office is looking to hire an administrative assistant to provide additional relief.

If an unsophisticated scheme such as this can exploit FOIA to this capacity, another set of hands will only help elevate the strain, not solve the systemic issue. An example of this is when the office informs requesters of any delays if they have filed a single request that is too large to be reasonably fulfilled in the time allotted. The requestor will then refile for the same information over several smaller requests at the same time. Functionally, the two requests have the same implications, and the only purpose is to irritate or annoy the office. It is clear their proclamation to expose the truth is disingenuous and an unremarkable outcome of their larger scheme to retaliate against county and city officials. Since these requests have begun, the department estimates it has lost three employees. Put plainly, the kind of harassment these employees have received is not a part of their job description.


It is with these self-serving interests in mind, I can unequivocally say that these types of requests do not serve the general public’s interest in the pursuit of governmental transparency. So, I ask this. How many employees or volunteers must quit over FOIA requests before the legislature will provide them with the proper protections and compensation that they deserve? Ultimately, a few requests can cause devastating implications for a whole city. Now, it is time for the 94th General Assembly to step up and make the necessary changes to FOIA.

FOIA Continued From Page 13 <<< 14 COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2023
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Safeguard public deposits

Arkansas County Courthouses are brimming full of new county officials. So, we need to have a talk about safeguarding public deposits. I disagreed with many of Thomas Paine’s positions, but he said something over two centuries ago that I totally agree with.

“Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous consciousness of honor,” he said.

Let’s talk about safeguarding public deposits — collateralizing public funds.

What is collateral? It is a safety net for what you want protected. In the case of a deposit made by a county official of public funds, it is something pledged as security in case the bank goes into default or more properly “goes into receivership” and is taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Walt Disney said, “Dreams offer too little collateral.”

In other words, dreams offer little collateral all by themselves. “Pie in the sky” is not good collateral. Pie in the sky is something that is pleasant to contemplate but is very unlikely to be realized.

The bank tells you, “Oh we’re good for it. Don’t you worry your little head about it. This bank has always been solvent.” That’s pie in the sky.

Before we address additional collateral let’s talk about FDIC coverage. FDIC, established on the heels of the Great Depression, has provided deposit insurance since 1933. The FDIC now insures account holders against losing money as long as they keep their balances below a certain level, even if a bank fails. Banks pay insurance premiums to the FDIC so customers don’t have to do anything to enable insurance on their accounts.

The FDIC is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. However, FDIC coverage is limited. That’s why county government must collateralize deposits in excess of FDIC coverage.

The standard FDIC insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.

Coverage is a little different for government accounts. The category known as government accounts (public unit accounts) includes deposit accounts owned by county government.

Insurance coverage of government accounts is unique in that the insurance coverage extends to the official custodian of the deposits belonging to the government public unit, rather than to the government unit itself.

Accounts held by an official custodian of an Arkansas county official will be insured as follows:

• Up to $250,000 for the combined amount of all time and savings accounts.

• Up to $250,000 for the combined amount of all interest-bearing and noninterest bearing demand deposit accounts.

Section 330.15 of the FDIC’s regulations [12 C.F.R. 330.15] governs the insurance coverage of public unit accounts.

Under section 330.15, the “official custodian” of the funds belonging to the public unit, rather than to the public unit itself, is insured as the depositor. An official custodian is an officer of a public unit having official custody of public funds and lawfully depositing the funds in an insured institution. In order to qualify as an official custodian, a person must have control over the funds. Control of public funds includes possession as well as the authority to establish accounts in insured depository institutions and to make deposits, withdrawals, and disbursements. Each county office holder has that authority, and there is state law called county accounting law that governs banking practices for the various county offices. It is found in Title 14, Chapter 25, Subchapter 1.

So, can the county treasurer collateralize the funds of every county office holder — not only the treasurer’s funds but the funds of the collector, sheriff, county clerk, circuit clerk, etc.? I guess they can say they have the funds collateralized. But the treasurer cannot perfect the security in collateral for any office except his or her own office alone. And if the security is not perfected, the FDIC does not have to acknowledge the security.

Why? It is because the treasurer is not the official custodian of other office funds on deposit with banks. They are not the official custodian of the funds of other offices/departments until financial settlements are made by the other officials with the treasurer. When those funds are on the books of the treasurer, then he or she is the official custodian.

The bank may tell you that the county should be collateralized as a whole unit because you are all under the same Taxpayer Employer Identification Number (EIN). That is incorrect information. For public unit accounts, including county government, the official custodian rule applies.

Depending on the type of depositor, FDIC uses different terminology concerning who is covered by the FDIC insurance coverage. When talking about individual bank accounts, the coverage is per owner or per co-owner. With trust ac-

It’s the duty of every county official — not just the treasurer

counts the terminology is insured per beneficiary. For business accounts for a corporation, partnership, or unincorporated association they use the term of coverage per entity. But for a government account the coverage is “per custodian.”

Are county officials required to collateralize public funds? The answer is yes, absolutely.

Arkansas law says, “county officials shall require security for the deposit of public funds”. This law is found in § 19-8-107(b)(c).

The amount of public deposits not insured by FDIC is the amount that must be collateralized. The first $250,000 in each banking institution is secured by FDIC insurance.

Let’s look at parts of the code I just mentioned [§ 19-8107] — a very important law for the proper execution of your duties as an elected official and the protection of public funds, the people’s money. You need to read this law in its entirety, but here are some key points:

• The treasurers or other public officials or other persons having custody of public funds shall deposit those public funds into the designated depositories.

• County officials shall make timely deposit and investment of public funds to earn optimum interest consistent with the prudent investor rule.

• County officials shall:

1. Require security for the deposit of public funds in the form of a demand deposit, a savings deposit, or a time deposit for amounts not fully insured directly by the FDIC.

2. Enter into supplemental agreements with each depository banking institution that satisfies the requirements of this subsection.

3. The forms shall include language necessary to create an enforceable perfected security interest in all collateral for deposits.

4. Depository boards and banks giving or holding collateral for deposits of public funds shall comply with federal laws and regulations so that the governmental entity depositing public funds holds a valid claim in deposits and collateral given for those deposits against, and prevent avoidance of such a claim by, the FDIC or its successor or any similar deposit insurance agency acting as receiver, conservator, or in any other capacity.

5. All security required under this subsection shall

meet the requirements of an eligible security under § 19-8-203 and § 23-47-203(c).

Do you as the county official — the depositor — have to accept the security offered by the bank? No. In fact, the law lists what may be offered by a financial institution as security but says it is “subject to the depositor’s discretion regarding the suitability of the collateral.” Eligible security for public funds is found in both § 19-8-203 and § 23-47-203(c).

If a bank pledges $1 million in security as collateral for your deposits is that pledge worth $1 million? Not necessarily. That’s why it must be marked to market on a regular basis. As the depositor you are much more interested in the market value than the book value. You want to know what the collateral is worth if you must take possession of the security to cover the loss of county funds. You want the FDIC insurance coverage and the market value of your collateral to be sufficient to cover the deposits of your office at all times.

Let’s look at the eligible security for your public deposits as outlined in § 19-8-203. This law says whenever any depository in the state of Arkansas must furnish security for the deposit of any public funds the following shall be considered as eligible security for such purposes and subject to the depositor’s discretion regarding the suitability of the collateral:

• The pledge or escrow of the assets of the bank consisting of any investment in which a state bank may invest pursuant to § 23-47-401;

• A surety bond or private deposit insurance issued by an insurance company licensed under the laws of the state of Arkansas and either rated “A” or better by any one (1) or more of the following rating agencies:

1. A.M. Best Company, Inc.;

2. Standard & Poor’s Insurance Rating Service;

3. Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.;

4. Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co.; or

5. Listed on the then-current United States Department of Treasury Listing of Approved Sureties; or

6. An irrevocable standby letter of credit issued by a Federal Home Loan Bank.

The aggregate market value of assets pledged or escrowed

See “DEPOSITS” on Page 18 >>> COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2023 17
You want to know what the collateral is worth if you must take possession of the security to cover the loss of county funds.

or the face amount of the surety bond, private deposit insurance, or letter of credit securing the deposit of funds by any single depositor must be equal to or exceed the amount of the deposit to be secured.

The best collateral, in my opinion, is the “irrevocable standby letter of credit issued by a Federal Home Loan Bank. There is no monitoring needed, other than to make sure it is for a sufficient amount. You only have to look at the face amount and that’s the amount of protection you have.

However, the first item on the list of collateral that may be offered by a bank is “assets of the bank consisting of any investments in which a state bank may invest in pursuant to § 23-47-401.”

Arkansas banks have a rather extensive list of legal investments. And the market value of some of those legal investments can be volatile. If you aren’t familiar with a particular security that is offered as a pledge of collateral, ask about the market value because it is the market value you’re interested in.

You, as the public funds depositor, get to make the decision on whether to accept the security offered as collateral. You have the discretion, by law, to say yes or no regarding the suitability of the collateral.

Every county official should establish adequate and efficient administrative systems to monitor pledged collateral. Monitoring informs you of under collateralization, which may threaten the safety of your deposits.

Let’s talk about making sure your county funds are collateralized. You have $10 million in one bank with a slowly declining balance. So, you have $250,000 in FDIC coverage for that deposit and the bank pledged $10 million in market value securities — all in Treasury notes.

Are you fully and properly collateralized? Maybe and maybe not; the numbers suffice, but is the security perfected?

Your bank may tell you, “We don’t need to do all that paperwork. We will pledge XX dollars and you will be issued a Safekeeping Receipt. That’s good enough.” Be sure to tell them that is not good enough.

If a bank fails and goes into receivership, the bank loses the ability to call the shots. It is FDIC, not the bank, that makes the decision of whether the pledged security is perfected.

If FDIC takes over a failing banking institution, it may or may not honor the security pledges made by the bank to a public entity. It has no choice but to honor the pledge if the pledge has been perfected. If it has not been perfected, the FDIC might honor the pledge, but it doesn’t have to.

It is extremely important for a county official to create an enforceable perfected security interest in all collateral for their public deposits. When a banking institution fails and goes into

receivership the FDIC comes in to settle on the assets of the bank. FDIC makes the decision on what is perfected security, not the county as the depositor and not the bank that pledged the security. If everything is not in accordance with state and federal laws/regulations to create an enforceable perfected security interest, the FDIC may void any agreements and leave the county with only the right to share with other creditors in the pro rata distribution of the assets of a failed institution for the amount of deposits that exceed the FDIC coverage.

Federal law provides that a depositor’s security agreement, which diminishes or defeats the interest of the FDIC in an asset acquired by it as receiver of an insured depository, shall not be valid against the FDIC unless the agreement:

• Is in writing;

• Was approved by the board of directors of the depository or its loan committee; and

• Has been, continuously, from the time of its execution, an official record of the depository institution.

A county official should have all pledged collateral held at an independent third-party institution outside the holding company of their bank, and evidenced by a written agreement in order to satisfy the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) requirement for control. The UCC states that the depositor does not have a perfected interest in a security unless the depositor controls it. Control means that swaps, sales, and transfers cannot occur without the depositor’s written approval.

• The value of the pledged collateral should be marked to market monthly, at a minimum, or more frequently depending on the volatility of the collateral pledged. Arkansas law requires the aggregate market value of security pledged or the face amount of the surety bond, private deposit insurance, or letter of credit securing the deposits of public funds “must be equal to or exceed the amount of the deposit to be secured.”

• Substitutions of collateral should meet the requirements of the collateral agreement, be approved by the county in writing prior to release, and the collateral should not be released until the replacement collateral has been received.

• The county should require reporting directly from the custodian of the collateral — the third-party institution. The custodian agreement should be a three-party agreement between the county [depositor], the bank, and the third-party institution.

• Reporting by the third-party institution should be, at a minimum, monthly.

Continued From Page 17 <<<

As a reminder, here are the documents you must have in place to perfect the security pledged as collateral for your deposits: (1) Security Agreement; (2) Certificate of Corporate Resolution; and (3) a third-party Custodial Services Agreement. All pledged collateral should be held at an independent third-party institution outside the holding company of their bank and evidenced by a written agreement in order to satisfy the UCC requirement for control. The depositor does not have a perfected interest in a security unless the depositor controls it.

And one more thing; keep your eye on the fiscal condition of your bank. The very last part of § 19-8-107(b)(5) says, “Public officials may require as a condition for placing deposits or keeping funds on deposit such financial data as they need to make an informed decision, including without limitation quarterly financial statements, quarterly profit and loss statements, and tangible net worth or capital-to-assets ratios.”

The capital-to-asset ratio of a bank is a key indicator of the bank’s strength. Anything below 6 percent is considered a weak position. But how do you get that information?

Years ago it was no problem to obtain this information because the banks were required to publish a quarterly finan-

cial report in a newspaper. The publishing requirement has not been in effect for several years. But they must still compile financial reports for the banking department. You can require a copy of that report from the bank because the law allows such if the bank wants to do business with the county and you, as a county official, want that report to make an informed decision about placing or keeping funds on deposit at the bank.

The ratio is calculated easily using this formula:

(Equity + Reserve for Loan Losses) / (Total Assets + Reserve for Loan Losses)

When the Regulatory Capital Ratio of a financial institution doing business with the county falls below 6 percent the official should reduce deposits in that institution to $250,000 or less.

The next time your bank or banks try to give you skimpy collateral — collateral with very volatile market value — just tell them, “That’s not enough collateral. We’ll have to have a kidney.” They should get the point.

It is of paramount importance to collateralize correctly, making sure you have a perfected security interest. The safety of public funds is a top objective of a county official. Just remember Warren Buffett’s two most important rules. Rule No. 1 is to never lose money. Rule No. 2 is to never forget Rule No. 1.



Continuing education pays dividends A

rkansas has 75 counties, each different in size, population, number of employees, and revenue. However, they all have similar visions, goals, and job duties — and they operate under the same set of laws. How they achieve their goals and follow the law could vary from county to county.

Benton County, with a population of over 220,000, is completely different from Dallas County, with a population of under 9,000. As in the private sector, one small company may offer the same product as a larger company — but does so in a different way. One way to accommodate for this is “Caucus by County Classification,” a round table discussion we have during continuing education meetings. The goal of this caucus is to get counties with similar dynamics to discuss common challenges and to reach solutions together. I believe the more our counties are alike, the easier it is to improve efficiencies and streamline services together.

Ark. Code Ann. § 14-15-811 and 14-15-1001 set up continuing education boards for county treasurers and collectors. Ark. Code Ann. § 26-60-112 sets up the continuing education boards for county clerks, circuit clerks, and coroners. The law says these boards are responsible for facilitating continuing education meetings for each respective group. This includes paying for meeting space, meals, lodging, mileage, AV equipment, educational materials, and presenter fees and expenses. The AAC works with the Auditor of State’s office to administer continuing education for county clerks, circuit clerks, treasurers, collectors, and coroners. Each county pays dues for the treasurers’ and collectors’ continuing education. The real property transfer tax funds continuing education for coroners, county clerks, and circuit clerks. This tax is levied by the state and collected by the county recorders. This is a tax on each deed, instrument, or writing by which any lands are assigned, transferred, or otherwise conveyed to, or vested in. This tax is commonly referred to as “deed stamps.”

Prices continue to increase, especially in the hospitality industry since the pandemic. These boards need an increase in their funding to keep up with the prices charged at these venues. HB1541 sponsored by Rep. Lane Jean and Sen. Kim Hammer will enhance the funds available for these boards to use. The boards have not received an increase in funding since 2013. If this bill passes, it will provide an additional $7,500 to $8,000 for each continuing education board. With the large number of newly elected officials taking office this year, we anticipate an even more robust continu-

ing education program. Our new continuing education coordinator, Michael Roys, has been meeting with these boards to find ways to improve the meetings. They also have been discussing the best ways of accommodating the new elected officials while keeping an eye on their budgets.

Continuing education meetings are the cornerstone for collaborating county officials. One of my first weeks working at the AAC, I was in Texarkana for the collectors’ continuing education meeting, during which multiple items were discussed. One of the leading topics regarded issues with how the state works with the counties. Specifically, how the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) works with collectors through Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). This topic arose from a group discussion of multiple collectors who identified questions for DFA. The following week, I set up a meeting with DFA officials, and we talked through the issues, and they answered our questions. This is a good example of officials collaborating to solve problems with the state. The more county officials who come together and work to solve issues for their counties, the better the solutions for the whole state.

Garland County Collector Rebecca Talbert told me at one of her first meetings that her staff was worried and couldn’t find her for a couple of hours. Where was she? She was walking around the venue before dinner talking to two seasoned collectors and learning things that she had never thought she would learn. She is now one of those seasoned collectors. I recently heard her say, “Just because you don’t see a topic on the agenda that you like, doesn’t mean you will not like or learn from these meetings.”

Relationships and an open line of communication make you more accountable to your colleagues. One line of communication that is always open is the list servs — an electronic form of continuing education. The list servs allow any elected official to ask questions of their counterparts in other counties. It is also great to see people highlighting the accomplishments of specific counties or seeing good news from the different offices. Some groups use the email chain very well. I encourage you to use this tool to augment what you learn during continuing education meetings. It will pay huge dividends down the road. 20 COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2023

The Cavalry: ARORP and the administration of opioid settlement funds

In the Summer 2022 issue of County Lines, I wrote about the formation of the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership (ARORP) and the hiring of Kirk Lane as ARORP director. Less than six months later, ARORP is bringing the cavalry to your communities, families, and opioid addicts. ARORP has come so far already that this edition of County Lines will also include an update from ARORP Director Lane and ARORP Deputy Director Tenesha Barnes about ARORP programs and projects already making a difference.

With this article, I will outline the important components of the process under which ARORP receives funding proposals, reviews and analyzes proposals, and approves and funds proposals, to abate the opioid epidemic in Arkansas. We have invested significant brainpower and care to create a process that is simple, evidence-driven, thorough, and efficient.

In September 2022, Arkansas cities and counties, through the directors of the Arkansas Municipal League (AML) and Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC), approved distribution agreements that are incorporated as exhibits into the Arkansas Opioids Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU, executed in July 2021 by the Governor, Attorney General, AAC director, and AML director, includes an equal split of Arkansas settlement dollars among the state, counties, and cities — 1/3 of every Arkansas dollar is allocated to the state, 1/3 is allocated to cities, and 1/3 is allocated to counties. The county and city distribution agreements govern the distribution and use of settlement funds designated for Arkansas counties and cities. Both the MOU and the distribution agreements are posted on the ARORP website along with other important legal documents:

Through the county and city distribution agreements, the counties and cities created ARORP, and directed that their opioid settlement funds be disbursed by ARORP in a manner consistent with requirements and restrictions contained in opioid settlement agreements and court orders. It is important to follow these requirements; most of the settlements include payment streams across many years, and failure to follow the requirements of the settlements could jeopardize future settlement payments. This is one reason we created a Qualified Settlement Fund (QSF) through an Arkansas court — to provide court supervision of the process and ensure the proper administration of the counties’ and cities’ settlement funds and opioid abatement program. While the QSF court supervises the settlement funds and the QSF administrator manages the settlement funds, the administration of abatement funding is done by ARORP, as set forth in the county and city distribution agreements.

The distribution agreements define the ARORP mission statement: “Evaluate proposals, make recommendations, and em-

power evidence-based programs and strategies to abate the Arkansas opioid epidemic, in a manner consistent with approved purposes as defined in the Arkansas Opioids MOU, settlement agreements, and court orders approving settlements and bankruptcies.”

Consistent with the MOU, the many settlement agreements and court orders, and the ARORP mission statement, nine principles guide the work of ARORP. Each guiding principle is thoughtful and important:

1. The Partnership seeks a shared framework for disbursing opioid abatement funds. Abatement efforts will be most effective if Arkansas governments unite and work cooperatively together, as they have in opioid litigation, on behalf of the people.

2. The Partnership should seek to use limited funds to supplement and expand existing public and private abatement efforts and funding, rather than supplanting or duplicating existing abatement efforts and funding.

3. The Partnership should fund public and private evidence-based projects, and funded projects should be evaluated for effectiveness moving forward, with ongoing funding contingent on demonstrated effectiveness as appropriate.

4. The Partnership should fund public and private programs and strategies that abate the opioid epidemic at the community and family levels.

5. The Partnership should support diversion from arrest/ incarceration and should support access to peer support and treatment in correctional settings.

6. The Partnership should fund anti-stigma programs and involve communities in education and prevention efforts.

7. Priority should be given to evidence-based and evidenceinformed prevention, treatment, recovery, or harm reduction programs, services, supports, and resources.

8. The Partnership should ensure diversity of representation and funding, including racial and geographic diversity, including people with lived experience, and including less populated and geographically isolated communities.

9. The Partnership will operate with all reasonable transparency.

Colin Jorgensen Risk Management Litigation Counsel
See “CAVALRY” on Page 22 >>> COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2023 21


Additionally, eight guidelines inform individuals and organizations, including counties and cities, that submit proposals and seek funding to abate the opioid epidemic:

1. A proposal submitted by any person or entity other than the Partnership director shall include a letter or letters of support signed by the county judge of each county to be served by the proposal, and the mayor of each first-class city to be served by the proposal. It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain the necessary signatures of county and city support.

2. A proposal should demonstrate evidence-based strategies to abate the opioid epidemic in Arkansas, in a manner consistent with approved purposes as defined in the Arkansas Opioids MOU, settlement agreements, and court orders approving settlements and bankruptcies.

3. A proposal should address the guiding principles of the Partnership outlined above, with honest and candid analysis of strengths and weaknesses of the proposal considering the guiding principles.

4. A proposal should be designed to treat, prevent, and reduce opioid use disorder and the misuse of opioids or otherwise abate or remediate the opioid epidemic. Each proposal should discuss and demonstrate this nexus.

5. A proposal should include suggested data and benchmarks/milestones to assist with evaluation of the effectiveness of the proposal if approved.

6. A proposal should include a sustainment plan for continuation of the proposal after proposed funding from the Partnership.

7. The Partnership may require outcome-related data from any entity that receives abatement funds.

8. The Partnership may require a proposal to achieve benchmarks/milestones as a condition of ongoing funding. Project funding is not guaranteed and may be dependent on completion of deliverables and reporting. Noncompliance with state or federal law, noncompliance with guidelines, or noncompliance with project benchmarks/ milestones, may result in funding termination.

As noted in the guidelines, applicants must obtain signatures of support from county judges and mayors in areas to be served by abatement proposals. We included this requirement for you, especially county judges and mayors, who authorized the litigation brought by all Arkansas counties and cities. We recognize, as you do, that the opioid epidemic has spawned a variety of local problems in need of local solutions. We want you to have the opportunity to study and approve (or reject) proposals designed to serve your communities — because you are on the front lines, and you know your communities best.

An applicant’s failure to obtain your signature for a project in your county will prevent funding — so you have veto power over proposals designed to serve your area. And although your signature does not guarantee funding for a project, your signature carries great weight, because we want to pursue projects that you believe in, for your communities. When a project is approved and funded in your county, ARORP will notify you so you can promote and celebrate your local abatement efforts, and so you have the knowledge to connect your citizens with resources they need. We hope you are pleased to play this part in the process, and we thank you for your input and your service.

The county and city distribution agreements call for the creation of the ARORP Advisory Board to study proposals and make recommendations to the AAC, AML, and ARORP directors, regarding programs and strategies to abate the Arkansas opioid epidemic. AAC Director Chris Villines and AML Director Mark Hayes have empaneled an advisory board with 12 members, each bringing relevant experience and perspective, and a strong desire to serve our communities, families, and addicts, in response to the opioid epidemic (

On Nov. 4, 2022, the advisory board had its inaugural meeting. All 12 members of the board attended in-person. Each board member introduced themselves and shared the background and experience that motivates them to serve on this board.

After the board meeting, ARORP hosted a press conference to announce the formation of ARORP and the funding process described above, to introduce the ARORP Advisory Board, to unveil the ARORP website, and to explain the funding process to the public. Please read the ARORP update from Kirk Lane and Tenesha Barnes, to learn more about the many exciting programs and proposals that ARORP has studied, approved, and funded to date.

Finally, the county and city distribution agreements provide that the counties and cities “desire the state as an equal 1/3 participant in the Partnership”— just as the counties and cities desired to unite with the state from the beginning of the opioid litigation in 2018, and consistent with the unity reflected in the equal split in the Arkansas Opioids MOU. As stated plainly in the first ARORP principle, “Abatement efforts will be most effective if Arkansas governments unite and work cooperatively together, as they have in opioid litigation, on behalf of the people.”

With unity in mind, we were excited to hear from Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin at the Feb. 9 meeting of the County Judges Association of Arkansas. Griffin praised the work of the counties and cities and ARORP, and he committed to cooperate and unify with the counties and cities on opioid abatement in Arkansas. This is wonderful news for Arkansas, and for your communities, families, and addicts.

The cavalry has arrived and is grateful to serve.

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Updates on the Opioid Settlement Funding Disbursement

In 2022, the Arkansas Municipal League (AML) and the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) formed the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership (ARORP). ARORP will ensure that opioid settlement dollars are dispersed to vetted organizations that are using evidence-based programs and strategies to abate the opioid epidemic in Arkansas’ cities and counties. Also in 2022, the cities and counties began receiving opioid settlement funding to abate and alleviate the impact of pharmaceutical companies’ damaging role in Arkansas’ opioid epidemic.

Before receiving settlement dollars, each applicant must obtain signature approval from the county judges and mayors in their jurisdiction. The ARORP and the ARORP Advisory Board will thoroughly vet each applicant, allowing city and county leaders to provide a valuable perspective about the organization’s fit in their community.

Turning the state purple

Each time ARORP disburses settlement dollars to a project in opioid prevention, treatment, or recovery, we turn the

county where the project originated purple on the map. Our goal is to turn the entire state of Arkansas purple, meaning that every county has received opioid settlement funding to support abatement projects in your community.

As of February 2023, ARORP has put $3,792,939.44 opioid settlement dollars back into Arkansas cities and counties. Funding has supported:

• 30 new recovery beds in Johnson County

• 4,232 naloxone kits dispersed across Faulkner, Pulaski, Craighead, Independence, Pope, Saline, Izard, and Jefferson Counties

• 1 recovery community organization in Craighead County

• 2 Overdose Response Teams in Garland and Craighead Counties

• 1 statewide effort to support families who have experienced an overdose

ARORP Director Kirk Lane (left) and ARORP Deputy Director Tenesha Barnes (second from left) present a check to the Saline Health Foundation for a Naloxone Hero Project. Also pictured is Saline County Judge Matt Brumley (center), who endorsed the project, which will bring naloxone and training on its use to the community.
See “OPIOIDS” on Page 24 >>> COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2023 23



Support for Drug Takeback

• 1 training program created for Arkansas’ mayors, county judges, and city and county officials to better protect their communities by utilizing community coalitions to abate the opioid epidemic.

Applying for funding

Applicants must fill out an online application at www. There is no need to hire a grant writer; the application is designed to be userfriendly. The settlement funds are intended for the creation or expansion of opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery projects. The money is not meant to replace or supplant existing funding.

There are four categories of proposals. The general proposal allows flexibility for an organization to submit any project related to opioid prevention, treatment, and/or recovery. We want community leaders to assess their community’s needs, then submit a proposal to address existing gaps in services. There are three other proposal categories: Naloxone Community Hero, Coalition Partnership Empowerment, and Overdose Response Team.

Apply to be a naloxone community hero (HERO) to

The purple color of a county on this map, which is on the ARORP website, indicates that opioid settlement dollars have been disbursed in that county to a project focusing on opioid prevention, treatment, or recovery.

bring naloxone and training on its use to your community’s residents who need it most: people at risk of opioid overdose and their close friends and family members. (Please note that naloxone from ARORP cannot be distributed or sold to first responders or harm reduction groups.) In 2022, ARORP created the Arkansas Naloxone Bank. Naloxone Community Heroes are organizations that apply for a credit to use at the Naloxone Bank for distribution within their community. These organizations host naloxone training and equip every trainee with a free dose of naloxone.

City and county law enforcement agencies and local drug task forces can submit an Overdose Response Team (ORT) proposal. An ORT partners a law enforcement criminal investigator with a peer recovery specialist (PRS) to respond to fatal and non-fatal overdoses within their jurisdiction.

Finally, community coalitions can apply for extra training through CADCA with a coalition partnership empowerment (COPE) proposal. The COPE proposal provides coalitions with the preparation necessary to apply for a Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant.

Help us turn the state purple! Encourage organizations in your area to create new projects in opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery to abate the opioid epidemic.

Continued From Page 23 <<<

Attorney General announces intent to work with counties, cities on opioid abatement

During the Winter 2023 meeting of the County Judges Association of Arkansas (CJAA), the state, cities and counties collectively announced their intent to work together to abate the opioid epidemic in Arkansas.

Attorney General Tim Griffin spoke before the CJAA, praising the work cities, counties, and the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership (ARORP) have achieved thus far. He said he “greatly respects” Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) Executive Director Chris Villines, Arkansas Municipal League (AML) Executive Director Mark Hayes and ARORP Director Kirk Lane. He said he plans to work “cooperatively, collaboratively” with the associations and the partnership.

“Some people see the cities and the counties somehow in competition with the state,” Griffin said. “The cities and counties are the state. The cities and counties make up the state. We’re not in competition. We’re on the same team. It’s the same jersey.”

Griffin said he does not plan to duplicate the efforts the AAC, AML and ARORP have already made. Specifically, he said he does not plan to create another advisory board.

“I’m not going to create another 12-member advisory

board,” he continued. “Ya’ll have great experts, and the great thing about information is we can share it. So, I can listen to your experts,” he said, noting that the partnership makes things simpler for everyone involved.

AAC Executive Director Chris Villines applauded Attorney General Griffin’s announcement.

“I am proud of the work the cities and counties have achieved thus far. The cooperation of Attorney General Griffin will only expand our outreach in communities across the state.”

Municipal League Director Mark Hayes recounted how five years ago the AAC and AML “joined in a partnership unlike anything else in the country. I don’t like the word epic, but it was truly an epic effort to eradicate a scourge in this state.”

Hayes said his perspective on the opioid litigation pursued by the cities and counties “took on an entirely new light” in April 2020 when his son died from an opioid addition and fentanyl overdose.

“I cannot tell you the joy and pride I have standing up here knowing that the state of Arkansas is now fully engaged with us because we can’t fix this problem in Arkansas unless the three entities join together hip to hip.”

AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, and Arkansas Municipal League Executive Director Mark Hayes pose for a photo following the AG’s announcement that he plans to work with counties and cities to abate the opioid epidemic in Arkansas. — Photo by Michael Morrison

Factors to consider in pursuit of a suspect

Recently, I have seen a rise in claims and lawsuits pertaining to law enforcement pursuits during which a third party is injured by a fleeing suspect. While law enforcement officers have the right to pursue suspects who are fleeing, they must still exercise ordinary care for the safety of others using the roadway. There are numerous factors to consider when determining if a law enforcement officer is exercising ordinary care during a pursuit.

An officer deciding whether to continue a pursuit should balance the need to apprehend criminals with the responsibility to protect and foster the safety of all persons in the operation of law enforcement vehicles under pursuit conditions. Factors to consider when deciding whether to continue a pursuit include but are not limited to whether the suspect is known and may be apprehended later, the offense (capital murder vs. traffic violation), weather conditions (sunny vs. rainy), road conditions (residential area vs. highway), lighting conditions (light vs. dark), and the speeds of the emergency vehicle and the fleeing vehicle.

What I consider to be the leading case on pursuits in Arkansas is City of Caddo Valley v. Joan George, 340 Ark. 203, 9 S.W.3d 481 (Ark. 2000). In City of Caddo Valley, a third party, Joan George, was injured during the pursuit of a fleeing suspect, Patrick Sherman. The pursuit of Sherman began when a Caddo Valley police officer heard a BOLO regarding a truck stolen from a gas station in Malvern. Officer Whittle saw the truck in Caddo Valley, at which time he turned on his unit’s lights and sirens and began pursuit. The pursuit reached speeds of 75 to 90 mph, and officers heard radio reports from Arkadelphia that police were in the process of setting up a roadblock. Officer Whittle was instructed twice to back off in hopes that Sherman would slow down. Officer Whittle eventually backed off, but Sherman failed to slow down and struck George right before the roadblock.

George filed a negligence action against the Caddo Valley police officers, seeking damages for injuries sustained when her vehicle was struck by Sherman. George alleged the Caddo Valley officers pursued the suspect at a high rate of speed when they knew, or should have known, the pursuit was likely to injure innocent victims; they failed to disengage from the pursuit when they knew, or should have known, Arkadelphia police were setting up a roadblock; and they failed to end the pursuit when they knew, or should have known, it was no longer prudent to chase Sherman under the conditions. The case went to trial, and a jury found that both the Caddo Valley officers and Sherman were negligent. The jury assigned 90 percent fault to the fleeing suspect and 10 percent fault to the Caddo Valley officers. Although the Caddo Valley officers were assigned only a small percentage of

fault, the result was still a $50,000 policy limits award to George.

As in City of Caddo Valley v. George, if the danger created by the pursuit outweighs the necessity for immediate apprehension, you should not continue pursuit. If you know the suspect’s identity and know the suspect is wanted only for a traffic violation, or a nonviolent felony, it is best not to continue a dangerous, high-speed pursuit likely to put civilians at risk. Alternatively, if during the pursuit, the risk factors have increased, then you should re-evaluate whether to continue pursuit.

For example, if you are pursuing a fleeing suspect for a minor traffic violation for over 30 minutes through residential neighborhoods at speeds of 100 mph on a rainy day, it is likely you will have some percentage of fault should the fleeing suspect cause a collision with a third party. A jury will likely find it was not reasonable to continue a dangerous pursuit for a minor traffic violation. However, if you are pursuing a suspect who is fleeing from the scene of a murder, and you witness the driver of the vehicle with a gun, it is more reasonable to continue pursuit under those facts.

Finally, if you are involved in a pursuit and the fleeing suspect causes a collision with a third party, it is best to create extensive documentation. Document all information about the suspect and pursuit, including but not limited to who the suspect is, what crime was committed, why you felt it was important to pursue the suspect, your thoughts during pursuit, your reasons for continuing pursuit, and any information regarding road conditions, weather conditions, lighting conditions, etc. Create a report that recounts information about as many of the above-mentioned factors as possible. Although you may not think the third party will make a claim against you, this scenario happens months or even years after the pursuit. Often, there is no insurance coverage provided on behalf of a fleeing suspect, as many insurance policies have exclusions if an illegal act is being committed, such as fleeing from law enforcement. Since there is no money to recover from the fleeing suspect, a plaintiff’s attorney will next come to the county, and ultimately, to you as the driver of the vehicle, seeking money on behalf of their injured client. If you have continued a pursuit in a negligent way that endangered the public, you have a risk of liability. If you become a defendant in a lawsuit, it is vital to have documentation that notes information about the suspect, the pursuit, and your state of mind during the pursuit, as you may end up at a trial like the officers involved in the City of Caddo Valley v. George lawsuit.

Melissa Dugger Risk Management Litigation Counsel

Protect volunteer firefighters with AAC’s supplemental income program

Igrew up in the small town of Mountainburg in Crawford County. I remember being fascinated by cop cars and fire trucks. As I watched Highway 71, which runs through the middle of town, I lost focus on schoolwork as anything with lights and sirens passed the school. My dad had been a member of the fire department when I was growing up, and I could not wait for the day I could join him in going to a fire scene. When I was 17, I was offered an opportunity by the fire chief to join a junior fire fighter program. When I turned 18, I officially became a volunteer fireman. I started taking class after class and running call after call.

One night we were dispatched to a structure fire in the middle of town. I, along with many others, responded. Everyone was out of the house safely, and it was time for us to go to work. I entered with two other firemen and began trying to stop the blaze. As with many fires, once they start it can be difficult to stop them. The ceiling began to collapse, and we tried to exit. We reached the doorway of the room we were in and found it blocked. One of the firemen had made it out of the house, as he had been in the doorway prior to the ceiling coming down. When you are in this moment, it all resorts back to what you are trained to do. The path of least resistance for us was through the wall. I remember using every tool we had with us to get through the wall, and it felt like we had been in the house for an hour. Once we finally got through the wall, my partner was the first out. Just as he cleared the wall, and I was going through, the ceiling came crashing down. I forced my way through the wall, dislocating my shoulder in the process. When I got out of the house, I was told my partner had injured his ankle. From there it was routine, the firemen handled their business while two of us took a trip to the hospital.

As with most volunteer fire departments, our volunteers came from a variety of backgrounds and occupations. In the weeks coming, we would find ourselves in another difficult position. At that time, I worked as a 911 dispatcher in Crawford County, so I was fortunate enough to be able to continue to work. However, my partner was not so fortunate. He worked for a company in a job that was physically demanding. He was using crutches and was put off work for six weeks. As he began his journey through a workers compensation claim, I remember him telling me how easy the process was for getting his medical treatment taken care of. I will never forget the call when he told me that he would receive $20 a week to make up for lost wages. I was stunned.

I knew that if the roles were reversed my family would be in trouble.

Fast forward to today, the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) offers additional protection for volunteer firemen who are injured while performing their official duties, roles, and responsibilities to the communities they serve. The AAC Volunteer Firefighter Supplemental Income program provides additional protection for loss of income that would not otherwise be covered by the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation law. To qualify for this program, the department must be covered by a county participating in the AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust, and the department must cover all firemen on its active roster. The coverage includes a weekly temporary total disability benefit of an amount up to the maximum allowed under law, weekly benefits for 52 weeks or for the period the firefighter is eligible to receive temporary total disability, and it comes with a $10,000 death benefit payable to an eligible dependent if the death occurs because of a compensable workers’ compensation claim. Death benefits are in addition to the funeral expenses covered under workers’ compensation law. The best part of this is the cost — $20 per firefighter for the fire departments that participate in any line of coverage offered by the AAC Risk Management Fund. A minimum annual premium of $240 will be charged regardless of the number of firefighters. For those that do not participate in any line of coverage offered by the AAC Risk Management Fund, the cost is $30 per fireman, with a minimum of $360 charged regardless of the number of firefighters.

As an assistant chief in my local fire department, I will tell you this. Volunteers are hard to find. Those who are willing to do things for their communities such as be a volunteer firefighter should be taken care of in the event of an injury. Not only is this a cost-effective move for all departments, but it is also a morale boost knowing that they will still be able to take care of their families financially if something happens to them while they are serving their community. Reasonably, I cannot think of a better way to give back to those who give so much time and effort to the communities they are volunteering to protect. For more information about the Volunteer Firefighters Supplemental Income program, contact AAC Risk Management Fund Director Debbie Norman at (501) 375-8247.

JAMES MIRUS Member Services Manager

Leaders explain how steel industry is transforming Mississippi County

U.S. Steel has existed for more than 120 years, and one reason is that the company has embraced technological advancement, Dan Brown, Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology Steelmaking and Chief Operating Officer of Big River Steel, told members of the Rotary Club of Little Rock on Feb. 14. When it was looking to expand, BRS was an enticing prospect, he said.

The mill, built in 2014, was the most advanced mill in the country and it produced more steel per worked hour than any other mill in the country, he said. In 2019, U.S. Steel began the process of acquiring the steel mill for about $1.4 billion.

“I was blown away by Big River [Steel] … It was the most advanced mill in the country. The workforce was excellent,” he said.

BRS, Nucor-Yamato, and Nucor Steel Arkansas are the three

steel producing companies located in Mississippi County. The county is reportedly the largest steel producing county in the U.S. with 3,000 workers directly tied to steel production and thousands more in secondary industries linked to steel production.

Primetals Regional director Michael Jacques was living in Mississippi County during the 1980’s when things began to change mightily, he said. Mechanization reduced the farming labor force and then the Eaker Air Force base shut down in 1992. The net result was a loss of 8,000 people and more than 9,000 jobs.

The only bright spot was that Nucor decided to build a plant there, he said. Three factors decided the issue. The county had access to multiple forms of transportation – river, rail and highway. It had access to power and those displaced farm


workers could transition into the steel mill.

Great River Economic Development Foundation president Clif Chitwood said the jobs created are among the highest paying in the state. Workers in the mills can make anywhere from $125,000 to $165,000 per year and some make more than that, he said.

“The people get the most out of their work,” he said.

Problems remain, however.

The county continues to bleed population and many of the workers live outside the county which means those salaries are spent elsewhere. To encourage workers to become Mississippi County residents, the civic leaders have started a program to encourage house buying in the community. The “Live Here, Work Here” program has built 25 houses in the county during the last eight months.

“That might not sound like a lot, but that’s more than have been built and sold in the county in the last 15 years,” Chitwood said.

When the steel mills were being built in the county, one business that benefited was Lexicon Inc. In the late 1980’s, the Arkansas-based construction company was on the verge of bankruptcy. When it was selected to build the Nucor Steel Arkansas plant, it saved the company, President and CEO Pat-

rick Schueck said.

Lexicon now builds steel plants all over the country and employs more than 2,000 workers, and hundreds of them are employed in the Natural State. The community in NEA makes it a unique steel producing region in the country, Schueck said.

“I think it’s important to point out that we build steel mills around the country… the people in Northeast Arkansas are 1,000% supportive of economic development in their counties. U.S. Steel desires to be in NEA,” he said.

Complimentary businesses have sprung up near the mills, and Schueck said he expects that to continue.

“When you make steel the companies that need steel want to be close to reduce transportation costs,” he said. “It’s a natural flow to be near the steel mills.”

U.S. Steel’s investment in Northeast Arkansas didn’t end with the acquisition of BRS. Last year, the company announced it was building a $3 billion mill adjacent to BRS that is slated to start operations in the summer of 2024.

“This $3 billion investment is the largest for U.S. Steel ever,” Brown said. “It’s the largest investment in the history of Arkansas. Mississippi County will be the largest steel producing county in the country. It blows me away.”


Scenes from the State Capitol

County officials can be seen and heard during every legislative session. They take the time to visit with legislators and Constitutional officers — and to testify for or against proposed bills. This year has been no different.

Associations with Winter meetings convened in Little Rock/Pulaski County so they could participate in the legislative process. County Judges hosted a legislative dinner, while County Assessors and Circuit Clerks co-hosted a legislative

luncheon at the Association of Arkansas Counties building. Both events were well attended by legislators.

County Treasurers took a tour of the Capitol while they were in town, stopping by the offices of the Land Commissioner and Treasurer.

Unfortunately, an ice storm prohibited County Clerks from holding their Winter meeting.

However, on the following pages are photos depicting the activities county officials engaged in this year.

Left: Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery testifies. Above: Jackson County Judge Jeff Phillips, along with other judges, observe a session of the House.
Left: During their visit to the Capitol, the Circuit Clerks had a group photo on the stairs inside. Above: Assessors attended a meeting of the Senate Comittee on Revenue and Taxation, where Washington County Assessor Russell Hill spoke for a bill that would set a uniform real estate reappraisal cycle of four years. Then they gathered on the front steps of the Capitol for a group photo.
Above left and right: In addition to visiting the State Treasurer’s office, County Treasurers stopped by Land Commissioner Tommy Land’s office. The group was so large they had to divide into two smaller groups in order for everyone to get a photo. Left: County Sheriffs visited the Capitol and posed for a group photo. Above: Washington County Assessor Russell Hill sits alongside Rep. Lanny Fite, who is sponsoring a bill that would increase the homestead tax credit for Arkansans. Several other assessors and collectors were in the committee room while Hill spoke in support of the bill, which was not voted on this particular day. Left: It was a Saline County reunion during the legislative luncheon the Assessors Association and Circuit Clerks Association co-hosted at the AAC on Feb. 16.
Pictured from left to right are Rep. RJ Hawk of Bryant, Saline County Circuit Clerk Myka Bono Sample, Saline County Chief Deputy Clerk Ragan Kyzer, and Rep. Keith Brooks, whose District 78 encompasses Pulaski County and a part of Saline County.

Legislation to restore SALT deduction introduced

In January and February 2023, lawmakers in the 118th Congress have introduced several pieces of legislation to restore the federal state and local tax (SALT) deduction. The SALT deduction allows taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes paid from their federally taxable income, however the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) capped the deduction at $10,000 per year through 2025. The introduction of these bills this Congress coincides with the re-launch of the Bipartisan SALT Caucus led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Young Kim (R-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y).

The SALT Fairness Act of 2023 (H.R. 160), led by Reps. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), is bipartisan legislation that would fully repeal the $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction enacted in the TCJA. As a result, taxpayers could deduct all eligible state and local taxes they paid during the year from their federal tax return, including property taxes plus either state income or sales taxes. This bill was also sponsored and introduced by Reps. Garcia and Panetta in the 117th Congress, both of whom are members of the Bipartisan SALT Caucus.

The Tax Relief for Middle Class Families Act of 2023 (H.R. 680), introduced by Reps. Mikie Sherill (D-N.J.), Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), would increase the current cap on the SALT deduction from $10,000 (and $5,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) to $100,000 (and

$200,000 in the case of a joint return). If enacted, this change would become effective beginning in the 2023 tax year. Rep. Sherrill is a Vice-Chair of the Bipartisan SALT Caucus and Reps. Lawler and Holmes-Norton are members of the caucus as well. Reps. Sherrill and Lawler also introduced separate legislation that would increase the SALT cap from $10,000 to $20,000 for married couples filing a joint return (H.R. 339) and Rep. Sherrill sponsored similar pieces of legislation in the 117th Congress.

Efforts to make the SALT deduction cap permanent are also ongoing. Led by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), the TCJA Permanency Act (H.R. 976) would make nearly all the tax provisions of the TCJA, including the $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction, permanent. Other TCJA provisions that would be made permanent include changes to the child tax credit, small business deductions and the standard deduction. In total, 35 federal tax provisions (many of which were enacted through the TCJA) are set to expire at the end of 2025.

Counties have supported a full restoration of the SALT deduction since the establishment of the cap as part of the TCJA. The deduction protects individuals and families from double taxation and allow local governments to maintain its decisionmaking authority. Capping the deduction has limited state and local control of tax systems and shifted the intergovernmental balance of taxation. Restoring the full SALT deduction would improve counties’ ability to deliver essential public services, such as emergency response, infrastructure development and public health services.

NACo applauds efforts to fully restore the SALT deduction and will continue to work with congressional partners towards a long-term solution that protects local taxing authority.

Photo courtesy of


Where were you born and raised? Little Rock, Arkansas.

Family information: My mother is Gloria Norwood, and my late father was Floyd Nor wood. I am the youngest of three children.

My favorite meal: Mexican food or seafood.

When I’m not working: I like to paint, read and hangout with my family.

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: I am a proud mother of my two children, Victoria and Jarrett. They are the light of my life.

The hardest thing I have ever done is: Raising two children through teenage years.

At the top of my bucket list is: I would like to go on a trip to Hawaii.

You might be surprised to learn that: I have worked for Pulaski County Government and the State Government for approximately 18 years.

My pet peeve is: Depends on the situation. Motto or favorite quote: “There is no wrong way to perform an act of kindness.” — Catherine Ryan Hyde

When did you start at the AAC and what projects have you been working on? I started on Jan. 3. I am working on Statement of Indisputable Material Facts (SIMF) and chrono dating files for the Legal Department.

LAW CLERK — Madison Folsom

Where were you born and raised? I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and moved to Bentonville in 2009.

Family information: I come from a small family, most of which still live in Alabama. My dad, David, lives in Northwest Arkan sas with our three dogs: Copper, Dakota, and Meme. I also have a Treeing Walker Coonhound mix named Mabel that lives with me in Little Rock.

My favorite meal is: Fettuccine Alfredo with as many garlic bread sticks the waistband of my pants will allow for.

When I’m not working I’m: Likely exploring with my dog and finding hobbies that I’ll lose interest in right after I buy everything I need for them.

The accomplishments of which I am most proud: Paying off my car before I graduated college.

The hardest thing I have ever done is: Convincing myself to go to the grocery store on a weekly basis.

At the top of my bucket list is to: Learn how to sail and compete in a regatta.

You might be surprised to learn that: If law school doesn’t work out, my back up plan is to become a subpar comedian.

My pet peeve is: The drivers in Little Rock.

Motto or favorite quote: “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.” — Winston Churchill

When did you start at the AAC and what projects have you been working on? I started on Jan. 4, and I have been working on research projects and a County Lines article.

Karel Ortega
Madison Folsom

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Right: White County Treasurer Janet Hibbitts, Chief White County Deputy Jennifer Slane and Independence County Treasurer Bob Treadway pose for a picture while sitting in the gallery at the House of Representatives Chamber.

Far Right: Jefferson County Vonysha Goodwin holds $600,000 while visiting the Arkansas Treasurer’s Office.

Right: State Sen. Matt McKee visits with Garland County Treasurer Tim Stockdale, center, and Craighead County Treasurer Terry McNatt at the Arkansas State Capitol. Far right: Faulkner County Treasurer Scott Sanson gives his fellow treasurers an update about the association’s legislative package.

The Arkansas County Treasurers Association hosted its Winter Conference Feb. 22-24 in Pulaski County. Above left: Washington County Treasurer Bobby Hill introduces himself during a break-out session for treasurers from the largest counties in the state. Sitting beside Hill are Saline County Comptroller Angie Drummond, Saline County Treasurer Holly Payne and Saline County Deputy Treasurer Carmel Raines. Above right: Little River County Treasurer Dayna Guthrie speaks to treasurers from Class 1 and 2 counties.


her own experience with Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood. Rima-Ferrell’s daughter Emy passed away unexpectedly in her sleep on Feb. 17, 2019. Rima-Ferrell, of Garland County, spoke about the resources that are available for families through the SUDC Foundation.

Right: President of the Arkansas Coroners’ Association and Saline County Coroner Kevin Cleghorn kicks off the lecture portion of the training.

Right: Calhoun County Coroner

Donna Steelman hands a doll to Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Rebecca Scott, who is playing the role of a mom during a mock investigation. Far right: Ashley County Coroner Keith Medders, back row, along with Pamela Carter, Rickey Boles and Toby Beavers, deputy coroners from Sebastian County, work through a handout with different child death scenarios.

The Arkansas Coroners’ Association hosted a Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation training session Feb. 27 in Saline County. Above right: Union County Coroner Stormey Primm leads a group through a mock investigation. During the training, participants learned how to use a doll reenactment to investigate the death of a child. Above left: Kristen Rima-Ferrell, founder of the Emersyn Grace Rima Foundation, speaks about


The Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association held its Winter meeting Feb. 14-17 in Little Rock/Pulaski County. Left: Deputy clerks from Arkansas County are all smiles while attending the meeting. Left: Boone County Circuit Clerk Judy Kay Harris, left, and Saline County Circuit Clerk Myka Bono Sample pose for a photo at the Arkansas State Capitol. Far Right: Newly elected circuit clerks Regina Powell, Montgomery County, and Lesa Gramling, Greene County, introduce themselves at the start of the meeting. Above: Crawford County Circuit Clerk Sharon Blount-Baker speaks with Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land and Shira Kelley during the first day of the meeting.
Left: Independence County Circuit Clerk Greg Wallis, left, visits with state Rep. Bart Schulz during a legislative luncheon the Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association hosted with the Arkansas Assessors’ Association.


The Arkansas Assessors Association held its spring meeting Feb. 14-17 in Pulaski County.

Right: A


around the meeting room for all the assesssors to introduce themselves. Here Lee County Assessor Becky Hogan is speaking. Far right: Association President Kim Hollowell, Crittenden County, kicks off the meeting.

Above: Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Flora Cook Bishop takes a photo of Poinsett County Assessor Josh Bradley and Jefferson County Assessor Gloria Tillman during a legislative luncheon hosted jointly by the Assessors Association and the Circuit Clerks Association. Above: Fulton County Assessor Cari Long and Sevier County Assessor Sheila Ridley pose for a photo during the assessors’ tour of the State Capitol. Right: Washington County Assessor Russell Hill, Ashley County Assessor Beth Rush, Stone County Assessor Heather Stevens, and Baxter County Assessor Jayme Nicholson gather around a table in the AAC conference room prior to the group visiting the State Capitol.
microphone passed


Right: Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks about her plans for the state. Also pictured, from left, are House Speaker Matthew Shephard, Senate Pro Tempore Bart Hester and Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin. Far right: Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison poses a question to Gov. Sanders.

The County Judges’ winter continuing education meeting was held Feb. 8-10 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Little Rock/ Pulaski County. Above left: Crittenden County Judge Woody Wheeless asks a question during a discussion with state Rep. Lanny Fite about bills involving tire districts. Above right: Craighead County Judge Marvin Day gives a thumbs up while Mark Whitmore, AAC chief legal counsel, speaks to the crowd. Above left: Pope County Judge Ben Cross speaks about the importance of cyber security for counties. Above right: Cara Stumph, wife of Marion County Judge Jason Stumph, and Brandee Litty, wife of Baxter County Judge Kevin Litty, take a break from a cake decorating class to pose for a picture. Jennifer Satterfield hosted the class during the spouses’ event.


Far right: Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association President Rodney Wright, Saline County, presents Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders with an ASA blanket after she served as the speaker for the sheriffs’ luncheon. Sanders spoke about her plans for criminal justice reform and improving mental health care.

Right: Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals leads a prayer at the start of the luncheon. Also pictured are Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook, center, and Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones.

Right: Arkansas State Crime Lab Director Kermit Channell addresses sheriffs about the work his staff does and plans for the future at the lab.

Far Right: Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Scott Bradley, far left, leads sheriffs through a tour of the Arkansas State Capitol.

The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association held its winter conference Jan. 15-18 in Little Rock/ Pulaski County. Above left: During the conference, sheriffs listen to various presentations to assist them in their daily duties. Jail administrators also attended to participate in break-out sessions designed for them. Above right: From left, Sheriffs Ronnie Cole, Clay County; Lafayette Woods Jr., Jefferson County; and Mike McCormick, Garland County have a conversation outside the Arkansas State Capitol.

When you participate in the AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust, you can relax in the hands of professional staff members who are going to take care of your needs. The AAC team has decades of experience in handling county government claims – they’re simply the best at what they do! Did we mention that participants in our plan are accustomed to getting money back? Since we started paying dividends in 1997, the AAC Workers’ Compensation Trust has declared almost $31.35 MILLION dollars in dividends, payable to members of the fund. In fact, we mailed $750,000 in savings back to member counties in July 2022. The service is available for any size county government and other county government-related entities. We’ve got you covered!

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Association of Arkansas Counties Workers’ Compensation Trust Members


About NACo – The Voice of America’s Counties National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the U.S. NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.

Treasury reopens Recovery Fund Contact Center

On Feb. 21, the U.S. Department of Treasury resumed operations of its Office of Recovery Programs Contact Center, which provides technical assistance to recipients of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. This includes the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund), the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund (LATCF), and the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. Treasury stated:

“The Contact Center closed last year due to an administrative funding shortfall, which impacted Treasury’s ability to provide support to recipients of funding from the Office of Recovery Programs. However, late last year Congress provided additional resources for the Office of Recovery Programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. As a result, Treasury is able to reopen the Contact Center in order to better support recipients by answering their phone and email inquiries.”

Since the bill’s initial introduction in October 2021, NACo has advocated for the passage of the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act to provide counties with the flexibility to invest

funds in transportation infrastructure, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-eligible and natural disaster related projects. The bill was ultimately passed as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill (Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2023) in December 2022. In addition to the expanded flexibilities, the bill also unlocked unobligated administrative funds for the Office of Recovery Programs that has allowed Treasury to reopen this Contact Center. Treasury is expected to release additional guidance for the bill’s expanded eligible uses in the coming month. NACo will alert counties when this guidance is available.

Since ARPA was enacted in March 2021, counties have been working tirelessly with Treasury to ensure Recovery Funds have the flexibility to properly address our unique needs and that we are fulfilling our role as sound financial stewards. Treasury has been a critical partner and valuable resource throughout the implementation of the Recovery Fund and with the recent release of LATCF payments, this partnership is as critical as ever.

This publication was made possible with the support of these advertising partners who have helped to underwrite the cost of County Lines. They deserve your consideration and patronage when making your purchasing decisions. For more information on how to partner with County Lines, please call Christy L. Smith at (501) 372-7550.

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7 Locations in arkansas! Batesville • Fort Smith • Hope • Little Rock • Searcy • Springdale • West Memphis We keep the county rolling Solutions Provider to the Transportation Industry toLL Free 877-786-4681


Growing communities need new projects. And new projects? They need us. Water systems. Road improvements. Parks. Community centers. Aquatic facilities. Crews & Associates has the financing solutions you need to bring those visions to life. Ready to take your county to the next level? Contact our team today and see what Crews can do for you.

Association of Arkansas Counties 1415 West 3rd St. Little Rock, AR 72201 PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID LITTLE ROCK, AR PERMIT No. 2797 Member FINRA & SIPC

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