County Lines Winter 2019
911 Reform Legislature Approves Public Safety Act 15
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In This Issue Features
Judges Hold Winter Meeting...........................................................45
AAC Board Profile: Marty Boyd.......................................................26 AAC Staff Profile: JaNan Davis.......................................................27 AAC Staff Profile: Melissa Hollowell..............................................28 AAC Staff Profile: Fonda Fitzgerald............................................29 Perry County Hosts Legislators....................................................32
From the Director’s Desk...................................................................7 President’s Perspective.....................................................................9 From the Governor............................................................................11
AAC Conference Registration......................................................30 AAC Directory Order Form...........................................................33 Public Safety Act Signing............................................................35 Newly Elected Officials Training..................................................36 Treasurers Tour Capitol....................................................................41 Assessors Meet Legislators............................................................42 Circuit Clerks Meet in Pulaski County...........................................43 County Clerks Visit House, Senate..................................................44
Cov e r N o tes: E m e rgency Situation
Sheriffs Discuss Bills With Legislators..........................................46
Research Corner...............................................................................12 AG Opinions........................................................................................14 Governmental Affairs.......................................................................15 Legal Corner.......................................................................................16 Seems to Me..................................................................................... 18 Litigation Lessons.............................................................................23 Wellness & Safety.............................................................................25 NACo News Update...........................................................................49
(P h otos by H o lland D o ran)
n Feb. 24, 2019, the County Judges Association of Arkansas (CJAA) held a news conference at the state Capitol to announce their intent to file legislation to reform the state’s 911 system. State Rep. Michelle Gray and Sen. Jason Rapert were the main sponsors of the bill, now Act 660 of 2019. In the weeks to come, the bill would be amended and many other legislators would join as sponsors. County and district officials had been working for years to transform the system, which was intended to be self-funded. However, counties were helping to fund the system to the tune of about $25 million a year. Judge Frank Weaver (left) kicked off the news conference. Both Sen. Rapert and Rep. Gray (above) discussed why they were championing the bill. Turn to page 15 to read more about Act 660. Find photos from the ceremonial bill signing on page 35. On the cover: Rep. Gray, Sen. Rapert, and other legislators; county and district officials; state agency officials; AAC staff; and others pose on the steps leading to the House chamber following the bill signing on April 9, 2019. COU N T Y LIN E S , W I N T E R 2019
9102 June 3-5 County Clerks’ Meeting DeGray Lake Resort, Bismarck
June 18-21 Assessors’ Summer Meeting Hampton Inn, Marion
June 4-5 Coroners’ Meeting Holiday Inn Airport, Little Rock
June 19-21 Treasurers’ Summer Meeting FourPoints, Bentonville
June 5-7 Collectors’ Meeting DeGray Lake Resort, Bismarck
June 26-28 Judges’ Summer Meeting Hotel Hot Springs, Hot Springs
June 12-14 Circuit Clerks’ Summer Meeting Mt. Magazine, Paris
Calendar activities also are posted on our website:
Mission Statement: The Association of Arkansas Counties
he 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 www.arcounties.org
Chris Villines, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Harrell, IT Manager email@example.com
Karen Bell, Administrative Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Baker, Executive Assistant email@example.com
Risk Management/ Workers’ Compensation
Ellen Wood, Admin. Asst./Receptionist firstname.lastname@example.org
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Debbie Norman, Risk Mgmt. & Insurance Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandy McAllister, RMS Counsel email@example.com
Mark Whitmore, Chief Legal Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Lakey, Workers’ Comp Claims Mgr. email@example.com
Colin Jorgensen, RMF Litigation Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh Curtis, Governmental Affairs Director email@example.com
Cathy Perry, Admin. Asst./Claims Analyst firstname.lastname@example.org
Johnna Hoffman, RMF Litigation Support email@example.com
Lindsey Bailey, Legal Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Nash, Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster email@example.com
JaNan Davis, RMF Litigation Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org
Christy L. Smith, Communications Director email@example.com
Renee Turner,Workers’ Comp Claims Adjuster firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Hollowell, RMF Litigation Counsel email@example.com
Holland Doran, Communications Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Riley Groover, Claims Analyst email@example.com
Fonda Fitzgerald, RMF Paralegal firstname.lastname@example.org
Karan Skarda, ACE Program Coordinator email@example.com
Greg Hunt, Claims Analyst firstname.lastname@example.org
Becky Comet, Member Benefits Manager email@example.com
Cindy Posey, Accountant firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Mitchell, Administrative Assistant email@example.com
Ed Piker, Loss Control Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org
CO U N T Y L I N E S , W I N T E R 2019
County Lines County Lines ([ISSN 2576-1137 (print) and ISSN 2576-1145 (online)] is the official publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties. 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 Holland Doran
AAC Executive Board: Debbie Wise – President Brandon Ellison – Vice President Rhonda Cole – Secretary-Treasurer Tommy Young Terri Harrison Debra Buckner Sandra Cawyer Kevin Cleghorn Terry McNatt Debbie Cross Brenda DeShields Ellen Foote Jimmy Hart Gerone Hobbs Marty Boyd John Montgomery Heather Stevens David Thompson National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations Debbie Wise: NACo board member. She is the Randolph County Circuit Clerk and president of the AAC Board of Directors. Brandon Ellison: NACo board member. He is the Pope County Judge and vice-president of the AAC Board of Directors. Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He serves on the Jefferson County Quorum Court. David Hudson:Vice Chair of NACo’s Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Sebastian County Judge and member of the Rural Action Caucus Steering Committee. Barry Hyde: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He is the Pulaski County Judge. Gerone Hobbs: Membership Committee. He is the Pulaski County Coroner. Kade Holliday:Arts and Culture Committee and International Economic Development Task Force. He is the Craighead County Clerk. Paul Ellliot: Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee. He serves on 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 Committe. She is the Crittenden County Chief Computer Operator.
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Marking a successful legislative session
hank you all for your patience regarding the printing and distribution of this edition of County Lines. As many of you know, the 92nd General Assembly has all but wrapped up the regular session, and we’ve all been quite busy around here. Chris Villines This is my opportunity to pen a column bragging about our AAC Executive Director biennial success in a session, but I must tell you that the 2019 convening of the legislature was particularly good for county government in Arkansas. Before we get into the first-blush results, the counties of Arkansas owe a tremendous amount of thanks to legislators across our state who listened to our needs and worked closely with us on positive reform in local government. Many of our early session concerns thankfully did not bear fruit, and our hopes for improvement were largely fulfilled. We also need to give a great deal of thanks to each other, and your association leaders who constantly darkened the hallways of our state capitol to insure our voices were heard. And it gives me great pleasure to compliment an outstanding policy team here at the AAC on their hard work throughout the 87-day session. It all starts with our former executive director, Eddie Jones, who reads every bill that is filed to determine whether there is impact on county government, then a team of Mark Whitmore, Lindsey Bailey, Josh Curtis and Christy L. Smith who work with the groups they represent and communicate session dynamics back to you all. A supporting cast of Anne Baker, Holland Doran and Sam Moore kept everything flowing this session. Without their help we would all be at a loss. But most thanks go to each of you, county and district officials, who communicate constantly with your legislators to keep them in the loop of county issues regarding specific bills. I cannot tell you how many times I would approach a legislator about an issue important to us and they were already aware of where county government would stand because of the communications you had with them. A profound thanks and collective pat on the back is deserved by each of you for your work this year. The great NBA coach Phil Jackson, winner of eleven professional basketball championships, once said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” I can think of no better descriptive of county government during a session than this. Each of you come from different backgrounds, work in different disciplines, fall in different parties and have different strengths and weaknesses, but together we are unified as one representing county government. “Seventy-Five Counties, One Voice” was heard loud and clear — and the successes I can outline below are attributable to this unanimity and strength. I’m going to use the rest of this space to bullet-point our successes, and I think you will agree that this session is a high-water mark for county government legislative accomplishment: >>> 7
• Retirement — We entered this session with several major reform topics on the horizon, some with merit, but many that were devised with no input from our greatest stakeholders — you. In addition, retirees could have been negatively impacted with reductions in cost of living (COLA) increases, yet many made the decision to retire based on what they believed would be consistent COLA figures into the future. Thankfully, none of the bills that would impact vested employees or current retirees were passed, and the co-chairs of the committee, Sen. Bill Sample and Rep. Les Warren, both opted for two years of regional meetings and input from stakeholders before we move ahead. More to come on this front. • Road Funding — Senate and House leadership and Gov. Hutchinson unveiled a new road plan that will increase gas and diesel taxes at the wholesale level by 3 and 6 cents, respectively. This increase will provide badly needed funding for our county roads and bridges to the tune of $12.6 million per year (ACT 416). In addition, a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 1018), will be on the ballot next November and would make permanent a one-half cent sales tax that is set to expire in 2023. This, if passed, would continue funding of about $44 million per year that goes to the counties of Arkansas. • Marketplace Fairness — Counties, cities and the state have been suffering for years by failing to collect sales tax on some internet purchases. Though the tax was already in place, Senate Bill 576 (now ACT 822) provides the mechanism to collect new revenue of approximately $6 million per year for counties. We believe this projection is low, but regardless you will likely see a spike in sales taxes for your county when this law goes into effect the months following implementation on July 1. A shout out to Sen. Bart Hester and Rep. Dan Douglas for championing this long-overdue fix. • Voting Equipment — Unfortunately all counties in Arkansas were in desperate need of new voting equipment around five years ago. Also unfortunate was the counties reached out for help from the state and were given a hodge-podge of answers to the funding needs, with some counties receiving 100 percent of the cost, others 50 percent match and some, hopeful for a
match, unfortunately paid 100 percent of the cost of equipment upgrade on their own. The homestead credit bill (ACT 808) moved approximately $8.3 million out of the property tax relief fund to the secretary of state’s office for distribution to counties in order to help equalize some of the funding indiscretions described above as well as to help fund new equipment for the 25 or so counties that are still using outdated equipment. Much thanks to Sen. Jim Hendren and Rep. Lanny Fite for their support of counties on this bill. The details on the funding should begin rolling out this spring. • 911 Reform — Make no mistake, counties desperately needed help to fund skyrocketing costs for our public safety answering points (PSAPs) across the state. But to say this bill (now ACT 660) is about just money doesn’t contemplate the lives it will save. For many years our PSAPs have failed to communicate well with one another due to older equipment and antiquated technology. This bill will provide needed funding, oversight by a board of our peers and vision to bring our systems on par with where they need to be nationally. The thought that you can get on your phone and an UBER driver can find you in seconds while deputies and volunteer firefighters are left wondering where you are is something unacceptable with something as important as emergency communications. Yes, cell phone and prepaid card fees (user fees, not a tax) will increase, but the benefit of next-generation 911 will be something we all can support. We estimate the funding increase for counties (and cities that operate PSAPs) will increase in the $18 million per year range. Sen. Jason Rapert, Rep. Michelle Gray and Gov. Hutchinson are heroes for championing this cause, and we can’t thank them enough. These few items give just a taste of the success of the 92nd General Assembly. In the end more than 1,800 bills were filed, 500 of which affected county government. Of the 31 bills in the AAC legislative package, 29 passed (a 94 percent success rate!), and dangerous issues such as sales tax caps and the aforementioned retirement changes never saw the light of day. We will be putting together meetings to go through the overall results and get the information out to you in the coming days, but for now I’d like to offer a congratulations to the counties of Arkansas. This will be a long-remembered session.
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Arkansas officials have voice through NACo
hope all our newly elected officials are settling well into their roles, and they are finding a supportive network within their respective associations and within the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC). A supportive network is vital for us to do what we do at the county level. Likewise, a supportive network is important at other levels of government. This is one reason the AAC is a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) — and why the AAC pays the annual dues for each of our 75 counties to be members. I often refer to myself as a “NACo Nerd” because I have been so impressed with the organization, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve learned. I am first and foremost the Randolph County circuit clerk. However, I wear other hats, as well. I’ve taken on leadership roles within the Circuit Clerks Association, within the AAC, and within NACo. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of teamwork at each of those levels. Those who work together accomplish the most. The AAC’s motto is, “75 Counties. One Voice.” NACo’s motto could just as easily be, “50 states. One Voice.” While the AAC looks after county interests in the Arkansas General Assembly, NACo looks after county interests in the U.S. Congress. Many county officials and employees who recognize the impact we can have while speaking with one voice have embraced leadership roles within NACo. Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison and I are NACo board members. Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Ted Harden, Sebastian County Judge David Hudson, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs, Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday, Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Paul Elliott, Crittenden County Collector Ellen Foote, and Crittenden County Chief Computer Operator Tawanna Brown all serve on NACo committees. AAC Executive Director Chris Villines is president of the National Council of County Association Executives (NCCAE), an arm
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of NACo. Have you noticed the seal on the cover of County Lines? For the last three years, AAC’s communications staff has won awards of excellence for the magazine and other forms of media from the National AssociaDEBBIE WISE tion of County Information Officers AAC Board President; (NACIO), another arm of NACo. Randolph County Circuit Clerk We are making our voices heard at the national level. We are forging relationships with county officials in other states, discussing our mutual challenges, exploring new ideas and solutions, and affecting the state of county government at more than just the local level. When we attend NACo meetings regularly we know we are bringing valuable information back to our communities, and we know we are having an impact. Only through NACo have I been able to sit down one on one with Arkansas’ Congressional delegation to discuss the issues our counties face and to brainstorm possible solutions. NACo is a valuable tool to have in our arsenal. I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities it has afforded me. The encouragement and advice I receive from my colleagues in other states is priceless. I urge you, too, to embrace NACo.
Debbie Wise Randolph County Circuit Clerk / AAC Board President
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FROM THE GOVERNOR
Arkansas and the USMA
uring a visit two years ago with President Trump at the White House, I took the opportunity to stress the importance of global trade to Arkansas’s economy. At the time, the president was negotiating with Canada and Mexico for a modernized NAFTA agreement that was more fair to the United States. The president never gave up on this issue, and late last year, he led the way as the United States, Mexico and Canada signed a new agreement. The new agreement is known as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA. The pact will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. We can’t know for sure the harm the state would suffer without an agreement but the loss in trade and jobs would be significant. The numbers show the benefit when we can freely and fairly export to our North American partners. Canada is Arkansas’s largest trading partner. Our neighbor to the north imported more than $1.2 billion worth of Arkansas products in 2018. That is almost 19 percent of our total exports. Mexico, our second-largest partner, imported nearly $900 million worth of our goods last year. Combined, our exports to those two nations in 2018 was a little more than 32 percent of our state’s total exports, which was $6.5 billion. To put that in perspective, you have to add the imports of the next eight countries to match the money our two North American neighbors spent buying our goods and products last year. Agriculture is our No. 1 industry, and Mexico and Canada
are our top agriculture customers. Between them, Mexico and Canada buy $500 million worth of agriculture products from Arkansas. Mexico buys $1.2 million worth of Arkansas eggs, $103 million worth of poultry, and $42 million worth of rice. Hon. ASA Canada buys $62 million worth HuTCHINSON of Arkansas rice, $44 million Governor of Arkansas worth of poultry, and $22 million worth of eggs. But it is more than agriculture. It is about our auto parts industry, our aero defense products, and jobs created in a wide variety of industry. Seventeen Canadian companies employ 2,800 workers at 30 facilities in our state. Mexico’s companies employ approximately 2,100 people at 14 facilities. We can’t overemphasize the importance of the free flow of commerce between our North American neighbors. I have written our Senate leadership and asked them to ratify this trade agreement, which is so important to Arkansas.
Asa Hutchinson The Honorable Asa Hutchinson Governor of Arkansas
Left: Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs into law a $95 million highway funding bill. Behind him are state Rep. Andy Davis, state Sen. Lance Eads, state Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, and Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton Above: In attendance were AAC Executive Director Chris Villines, AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore, Madison County Judge Frank Weaver, Conway County Judge Jimmy Hart, Yell County Judge Mark Thone, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, and Van Buren County Judge Dale James. — Photos by Holland Doran COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
AAC has expanded services to counties
n years past, the capacity of the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) to assist counties was hampered by significant limitations on our resources. We can now proudly proclaim that the AAC provides an array and depth of services to our members. The boards of the AAC and the AAC Risk Management Fund (AACRMF) have provided additional and necessary resources to support increased levels of services. We find it fulfilling to better serve our county officials. Education/Training/Legal Services: AAC staff strives to provide education and training for our county officials and their staff. We have an education coordinator, Karan Skarda, who does an excellent job in facilitating training for seven of our nine county affiliate organizations. We provide easy access to the law through our litany of publications. We strive each week to provide a working understanding and informed guidance on the laws of Arkansas. Our legal staff has grown substantially. We had a single attorney at the AAC in 2002. We now have six attorneys on staff: Brandy McAllister, Lindsey Bailey, Colin Jorgensen, JaNan Davis, Melissa Hollowell and yours truly; four law clerks: Blake Gary, Jessica Fontenot, Adrienne Criswell, Kristina Farmer; and two legal assistants/ paralegals: Johnna Hoffman and Fonda Fitzgerald. We strive to provide legal services and benefits to all of the 75 member counties of the AAC and the AAC Workers Compensation Trust (AACWCT) and the 56 member counties of the AACRMF. Recently, we’ve made major advancements in the creation of technology-based programs. Below are a few of the recent advancements of services to our member counties. Guardian RFID Inmate Tracking System: In 2008, Guardian RFID obtained the endorsement of the National Sheriffs Association for its inmate tracking system. The AACRMF commenced providing this service to our member counties in 2014 and the program now serves 30 AACRMF counties. It’s an extremely useful tool for staff management, litigation management and claims prevention. Jason Owens, AACRMF contract litigation counsel, explains: “RFID data — much like video evidence — is almost unassailable in the courtroom. Also, much like video, RFID data has invaluable utility prior to litigation, both as a constant accountability tool for employees and as a powerful decision-making tool in the pre-litigation claims process.” Justice Bridge Audio-Visual Arraignment: In Fall 2017, AACRMF began a program we call Justice Bridge in collaboration with Keystone Solutions, Inc. Prior to the program 12
counties had to transport state and local prisoners throughout Arkansas (to and from various state prisons to our local courts). AAC and AACRMF board member, Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, conceived the Mark Whitmore program. The program allows for AAC Chief Counsel courts to conduct certain hearings by video technology. The key is that the Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC) afforded the AACRMF permission to install suitable video arraignment equipment into the 17 state prisons in Arkansas. Each participating county has video phone equipment allocated to their local jail, circuit courts, prosecutor and sheriff, etc. The program saves all of the attendant costs, labor, overtime in transporting state inmates to and from state prisons to our local courts for hearings (and as well transportation from local jails or other jails to court). The system reduces risk of liability such as escape or injury. Thirty-two of the 56 AACRMF member counties are online with the Justice Bridge. Other entities, such as district courts and public defenders, may procure Justice Bridge video equipment as well. The savings annually to our counties is a seven-digit figure. We are working on connecting Justice Bridge with courtroom interpreters. The Justice Bridge expedites court hearings. It has a positive impact on easing jail overcrowding. The potential for use and efficiencies is limitless. Opioid Litigation: The AAC, the Arkansas Municipal League, counties and cities in Arkansas collaborated to file suit in the Crittenden County Circuit Court in Arkansas over the opioid epidemic. Our litigation will include all 75 counties in Arkansas. The lawsuit seeks to determine the responsibilities of certain manufacturers and distributors for the opioid epidemic in Arkansas and to remediate the crisis. Most counties and cities in the United States that sued over the opioid epidemic have been moved into the multi-jurisdictional litigation in Cleveland, Ohio. However, our litigation is uniquely and well postured to provide the best result for the counties, cities and citizens of Arkansas. AAC extends resources to the opioid litigation. Colin Jorgensen, AAC Litigation Counsel, has an update on the opioid litigation. See pages 23-24. MDILog: The Arkansas Coroners’ Association in cooperation with Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) launched a new state reporting system for coroners. MDILog reporting software has been purchased and COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
AAC provided free of charge to all coroners in the state of Arkansas. There are multiple benefits to a system of this caliber. It is a win-win scenario for the state. It will provide more opportunity to donate organs and tissue to save lives through ARORA. This occurs by simply creating a case file at the coroner’s office within three to five hours of the death. There is a data push that sends the information electronically to ARORA. In return for the provided software, the coroner must simply use the system for case management. Statistically there is a significant lack of data statewide from the county coroners. This system will provide the state with real-time, accurate data. The technical departments of MDILog along with those of the Arkansas State Crime Lab and The Arkansas Department of Health Vital Statistics Division have established a link between the systems for that real-time data to be collected and disseminated. MDILog also has the potential to replace the current body submission form required by the medical examiner for autopsy cases. This will provide a faster, more efficient service to the entire state. Use of MDILog will put us more to the forefront of fighting the opioid epidemic we are facing, along with taking care of our families more efficiently. Currently, 40 county coroners are using MDILog. Is your county using MDILog? (See the map above). It’s vital for a litany of reasons that our coroners provide good data to the state and federal agencies. MDILog is a Godsend. Regional Crisis Stabilization Units: During the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly and Governor supported the creation of four regional crisis stabilization units (CSU) to address the needs of those in crisis (persons with mental illness or low-level substance abuse). CSUs are operatCOUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
ing in Sebastian and Pulaski counties. CSUs were awarded for Craighead and Washington counties, and those regional CSUs are in progress. This legislative ask was a major undertaking. The implementation of a regional CSU by the host counties has been a Herculean effort. Ultimately, we hope to have eight regional CSUs operating in Arkansas. Some of the challenges for CSU host counties will be to gather data and push that data to appropriate state agencies. The data will help demonstrate the efficacy of CSUs and propriety of the justice reinvestment for CSUs. Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety: Act 423 of 2017: The Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety Act of 2017, also encouraged other continuing challenges in the collection and transfer of criminal justice data. We need to gather and transfer data from the booking of state and local inmates and screenings for mental illness, substance abuse, alcohol abuse and opioid abuse. The act also encouraged the collection of See
AG Opinions: From crisis units to clarification on civil offices AG OPINION NO. 2018-077 The Attorney General (AG) explained that Ark Code § 20-47-210 authorizes and provides a duty to law enforcement officers to transport persons that are a danger to themselves or others to a mental health facility. Act 423 of 2017 establishes the Behavioral Health Crisis Intervention Protocol, which directs persons with behavioral or mental impairments to a regional crisis stabilization unit, if a unit exists. In essence, the old protocol Ark Code § 20-47-210 is intact. The new protocol under Act 423 of 2017 is available where a regional crisis unit is operational. AG OPINION NO. 2018-080 The AG opined that Amendment 78 of the Arkansas Constitution may be used to finance a road grader lease. Amendment 78 provides for cities and counties to incur short-term debt, pledging its general credit, for the acquisition, construction, installation or renting of real and tangible property having a useful life of more than one year. The AG noted that rebuilding or reconstruction of a road grader would not be authorized under Amendment 78. The AG explained that Amendment 78 is for acquiring, constructing, installing or renting real or tangible
personal property. The amendment refers to debt instruments as short-term financing obligations. These instruments are for: debts, notes, installment purchase agreements, lease and leasepurchase contracts or any other similar agreements. These instruments must mature or have a term not to exceed five years. The governing body, the Quorum Court, must approve these agreements by Ark. Code § 14-78-101 et seq., the Local Government Financing Act, was adopted in furtherance of Amendment 78, and it distinguishes between shortterm financing obligations and shortterm financing agreements (which is defined as any loan, line of credit, note purchase, security agreement, mortgage or similar agreement).
AG OPINION NO. 2018-124 The AG explained a Quorum Court is afforded a reasonable time to consider a petition under Ark. Code § 14-20108 for fire dues to be collected by the collector. The law directs that upon compliance with the provisions of law and the levy is approved, the fire dues shall be included on the property tax bills without delay. AG OPINION NO. 2018-120 The AG was posed with “civil office”
questions. Whether a person can simultaneMark Whitmore ously serve as AAC Chief Counsel both coroner and school board member? May a coroner run and serve on school board? Whether a school board member may run and serve as coroner? A sitting county coroner may not run for school board as prohibited by the Amendment 95 of the Arkansas Constitution. Article 7, Section 53 of the Arkansas Constitution provides a person elected or appointed to county office shall not, during the term for which he or she is elected or appointed, run or be appointed to another civil office in the state of Arkansas. The law and case law does not prohibit a school board member running and serving as a county official. The AG explained the prohibition is imposed upon county officials as part of Amendment 95. There is no prohibition on a school board member from running and serving in a county office. Rep. Mike Holcomb and Sen. Bob Ballinger sponsored legislation clarifying “civil office.” See: HB 1395, now Act 639 of 2019.
75 Counties - One Voice 14
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Public Safety reform is now a reality
11 reform and funding are finally a reality. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the Public Safety Act, now Act 660 of 2019, into law in early April. Counties were the leading voice for public safety prior to and during the legislative session. The 92nd General Assembly heard us loud and clear. The 911 bill — House Bill 1564 — passed the House City, County and Local Affairs Committee unanimously and cleared the House floor with only five legislators voting against it. The Senate side was similar. The bill passed the Insurance and Commerce committee unanimously, and 29 of the 35 senators voted for it on the floor. Rep. Michelle Gray and Sen. Jason Rapert did an incredible job carrying this legislation for the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) and the County Judges Association of Arkansas (CJAA). This was a hard vote for the legislature, and I encourage you to thank your representatives and senators for supporting this legislation. The Arkansas 911 Board will take the place of the Emergency Telephone Services Board. The Board will be chaired by the Director of Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) and will consist of: the auditor of state, the state GIS officer, a county judge, a mayor, two 911 coordinators, a police chief, an OEM director, a sheriff, an EMS representative, and a fire chief. The Governor, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, AAC, Municipal League, and the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police will make these appointments. This board will have the authority to establish guidelines and minimum standards for Arkansas public safety answering points (PSAP). The 911 board will have the responsibility to assist all PSAPs in implementing a next generation 911 (NG911) system. The board is also required to purchase the statewide infrastructure for NG911, which will be an emergency services IP network dedicated for 911 calls and information. Arkansas has more than 120 PSAPs. The Board will develop a plan to provide funding for no more than 77 PSAPs by Jan. 1, 2022. Some have asked why this date is so far down the road. The answer is simply local control. The intent behind this was to let the local governments decide how they are going to consolidate. One late amendment to this piece of legislation was to give the Board some flexibility. By a two-thirds vote, the Board can increase or decrease the number of PSAPs. Without these efficiencies from consolidation, this legislature would not have voted to increase 911 funding. The original version of this bill proposed combining several fees, including local tariffs on landlines. The larger telecommunications companies opposed this, so we reworked the formulas. The final version of the bill left landlines alone, so this money will continue flowing in the same manner. The two changes that will increase 911 funding include changing charges on cell phone bills and prepaid transactions. The current monthly charge on a cell phone is 65 cents. The new COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
charge beginning Oct. 1, 2019 will be $1.30. This should increase funding by an additional $17 million per year. Current law requires retailers to collect 65 cents per transaction on prepaid cards, so you would pay the same for 911 whether you Josh Curtis bought a $10 card or a $100 card. Governmental Affairs Act 660 changes this to a 10 percent Director tax on all prepaid transactions. The Department of Finance and Administration projected this change to bring in an additional $5 million to $12 million per year. With the increased funding for 911 there will be more reporting and accountability required from the PSAPs. After the Board promulgates rules and streamlines the reporting process, the PSAPs will have a clear understanding of all requirements. The Board will work with each PSAP to make sure the certifications are correct. The PSAP Certifications will provide data for the board to make the best decisions for Arkansas’ 911 system. The Board will have the ability to withhold the monthly disbursements if these documents are not reported correctly. This will also increase transparency in how public safety funds are collected and expended. The money will go to ADEM’s Arkansas Public Safety Trust Fund. Up to $14,000 each month beginning on the 15th business day in Dec. 2019 will be distributed to ADEM to provide administrative support for the fund. The new law increased training requirements for telecommunicators. We worked with the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) to provide additional training funds for telecomunicators. Up to $62,500 quarterly, will be sent to CLEST beginning July 2020. Another key piece to the Public Safety Act of 2019 is funding for the Arkansas Wireless Information Network (AWIN), which is the statewide public safety communication system for the state’s first responders. Starting July 2020, up to $2 million will go to ADEM on a quarterly basis to support upgrades and maintenance for AWIN. All remaining money in the Public Safety Trust Fund will be transferred to the Arkansas 911 Board each month beginning Dec. 2019. HB1122, the appropriation bill for ADEM, was amended after the passage of the Public Safety Act. The new Public Safety Trust Fund needed an appropriation to send funds to the Arkansas 911 board. The total appropriation was set at $75 million. One thing that gets lost in all the technical parts of the reform package is the human aspect. The Public Safety Act of 2019 will save lives and create better outcomes in emergency situations. First responders and telecomunicators will have more accurate information and therefore be able to provide better service for all Arkansans. 15
92nd General Assembly refers three constitutional amendment proposals
he Regular Session of the 92nd General Assembly has come and gone, and you all will get more updates on the products of the session than you probably care to. No doubt, you will hear much debate in the next 18 months over the three constitutional amendments referred to the voters by the General Assembly to be placed on the 2020 general election ballot. HJR1018, of particular interest to the counties, is an amendment to continue a levy of a one-half percent sales tax for the state’s highways, county roads, and city streets. In 2012, the voters passed Amendment 91 to implement a statewide one-half percent sales tax to build and maintain a four-lane highway system, county roads and city streets across the state. Amendment 91 authorized up to $1.3 billion in general obligation bonds to fund these projects, and to be repaid by the one-half percent sales tax over a period of 10 years. Seventy percent of net revenues go to the Arkansas Department of Transportation for four-lane highways, with 15 percent transferred to counties and 15 percent to cities for use on local roads, streets, and bridges. This amendment had a sunset of 2023. HJR1018 simply seeks to make permanent that Amendment 91 one-half percent sales tax to continue funding state four-lane highways as well as local roads, streets, and bridges. This referral is a part of the Governor’s highway funding plan. It is worth reiterating that this measure would not create a new sales tax, but simply make permanent the 10-year sales tax the people voted for in 2012. The second issue referred to the ballot is SJR15, to amend term limits for members of the General Assembly. In 2014, the people passed Issue 3, or Amendment 94, primarily known as an ethics reform amendment, banning gifts to elected officials, among other reforms. Also included in this Amendment were term limits set for members of the General Assembly, prohibiting a member from serving more than 16 years total in the House of Representatives, Senate, or a combination of both, replacing the previous term limits of six years in the House and eight years in the Senate. It has been widely speculated that the people, voting on an ethics reform amendment, did not realize that it also extended term limits for members of the General Assembly. In response, a citizen-initiated proposed amendment led by Arkansas Term Limits and U.S. Term Limits was introduced in 2018 to set term limits at no more than six years in the House, or eight years in the Senate, but no more than a combination of 10 total years in the General Assembly. Ultimately, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck this issue from 16
appearing on the ballot due to errors regarding signatures collected, leaving an insufficient number of signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. LINDSEY BAILEY In response to the backlash from General Counsel the 2014 ethics reform/term limits confusion, the 92nd General Assembly chose to refer its own term limits amendment to the people, SJR15, to be known as the Arkansas Term Limits Amendment. In short, this amendment would limit the number of years a member of the General Assembly first elected in 2021 or later could serve consecutively at 12 years. After a cooling off period of four years, a former member could run and be elected again, up to another 12 consecutive years. It is likely the organizations behind the 2018 term limits attempt will collect signatures again on the same 10-year term limits proposal, which could lead to voter confusion if two term limits amendments appear on the same ballot. The third and final referral by the 92nd General Assembly to the voters is HJR1008, to amend the process for submission and approval of proposed constitutional amendments, making it more difficult for a proposal to actually reach the ballot. It raises the threshold for constitutional amendments referred by the General Assembly from a simple majority to a three-fifths vote of each chamber. The issue also amends the process for citizen-led initiatives: in addition to the signature threshold of at least 10 percent of statewide voters in the last gubernatorial election, at least 45 of the 75 counties would have to approve the proposal, an increase from the 15 counties required currently. It also requires that these petitions be filed with the Secretary of State by Jan. 15 of the election year, as opposed to the current deadline of four months prior to the election; requires that a challenge to a petition be filed no later than April 15; and eliminates the 30-day “cure period” in which a sponsor can gather more signatures if they fall short of the signature threshold, but reach at least 75 percent of signatures required. These three referrals will likely be joined by a couple or more citizen-led initiatives on the 2020 ballot, and with it being a presidential election year, you can count on high voter turnout, and in turn, plenty of advertising for and against the proposals by the organizations affected. The Association of Arkansas Counties does not support or oppose proposed constitutional amendments referred to the people, but strives to keep its members informed. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
SERVICES data by Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) on the number and status of persons incarcerated in county jails. These challenges in collecting data and pushing it to proper state or federal agencies will be an ongoing undertaking for county officials and the AAC. Sheriffs, jail administrators, CSU host counties, Department of Human Services (DHS) and software providers will need to closely collaborate. If we succeed in these efforts, our citizens will be better served. Jailer & Jail Administrator Training: During the 2019 legislative session, several bills are in the category of training. The sheriffs’ legislative package included Senate Bill 237, now Act 372 of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Keith Slape and Sen. Ronald Caldwell. The bill doubled the $20 booking fee paid by criminal defendants convicted or pleading no contest to felonies of Class A misdemeanors (the highest category of misdemeanor). The revenue increase for the jails could be in excess of one million dollars. Additionally, the bill provides for one-tenth of the revenues collected to be allocated to Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) for
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use in funding the requisite jailers training in various regions in Arkansas, jail administrator/jail management courses, and jailer training modules, etc. Deputy Coroner Training: Meanwhile, Senate Bill 193, now Act 238 of 2019, sponsored by Sen. Scott Flippo and Rep. Fred Love addressed training of deputy coroners in Arkansas. In 2013, Act 551 of 2013, sponsored by Rep. Mary Slinkard and then Rep. Andrea Lea (current State Auditor), provided for training for coroners and deputies. Act 238 of 2019, is phase two and assures our deputy coroners are being trained just like law enforcement, 911 dispatchers and jailers. The declared mission of AAC is to: “provide a single source of cooperative support and information for all counties and county and district officials through the provisions of general research, public education programs, and conducting seminars for county governments in Arkansas.” We are far from exceeding our objectives, however, we’ve made major strides. Service to our county officials is a fulfilling undertaking.
SEEMS TO ME ... The great story of county government
len Campbell, the Pike County, Arkansas-born singer, guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor said, “Great stories start with great opening lines. I’m a lineman for the county — what a great way to start a song.” I’m a Judge for the county; I’m a Sheriff for the county; I’m a Clerk for the county; I’m a Treasurer for the county; etc. What a great way to start the story of county government. I’ve been in county government nearly four decades but some of you are just starting your journey. Do you actually know what you have become a part of and why? Let me say as I begin this story of county government, that if you have been elected to a county government office for any other reason than to be a good and ethical leader of your county you have been elected for the wrong reason. You may have heard stories like this one before entering county government: A fellow stopped at a rural gas station, filled his tank, and took a break by his car while drinking a soda. As he relaxed, he watched a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind him by about 25 feet and filled in the hole. The men worked right past the fellow with the soft drink and went on down the road. Overcome by curiosity, the fellow headed for the first man. “Hey there,” he said to the men. “Can you tell me what’s going on here with this digging?” “We work for the county government,” one of the men said. “But one of you is digging a hole and the other is filling it up. Isn’t that a waste of the county’s money?” “Well,” one of the men replied, “normally there’s three of us — me, Rodney, and Mike. I dig the hole, Rodney sticks in the tree, and Mike here puts the dirt back.” “Yeah,” Mike added. “Just because Rodney’s sick, that don’t mean we can’t work, does it?” Stories like these are fictitious — at least 99 percent of the time. In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is an area having specific boundaries and a specific level of governmental authority that differs from state to state. The term “county” is used in 48 states. Louisiana has parishes, and Alaska has boroughs — functionally equivalent to counties. As of 2018, there are 3,142 counties and county-equivalents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The number of counties per state ranges from only three counties in Delaware to 254 counties in Texas. As you know, we have 75 counties in Arkansas. 18
The specific governmental powers of counties vary widely between the states. Counties have significant function in all states except Rhode Island and Connecticut, where county governments have been abolished but the entities remain for administrative or statistical purposes. The Eddie A. Jones Commonwealth of Massachusetts has reCounty Consultant moved most government functions from eight of its 14 counties. The site of a county’s administration and the county courthouse is called the county seat. It’s called the parish seat in Louisiana and the borough seat in Alaska. Several New England counties use the term “shire town” for the county seat, hearkening back to the days in England. Originally counties were placed so that a county seat would be no more than a day’s journey for everyone within the county borders. That is the principal reason we still have ten counties in Arkansas with two county seats. They are no longer needed for that particular reason, but they still exist and apparently a majority of their residents want it to remain that way. Arkansas ties with Mississippi as the states with the most counties with two county seats. However, modern U.S. counties share no equivalence in either geographic size or population. Arlington County, Virginia, is 26 square miles in size, while the North Slope Borough of Alaska is 94,796 square miles. Arkansas counties range in size from Lafayette County’s 545 square miles and Sebastian County’s 546 square miles to Union County’s 1,053 square miles. The U.S. County with the largest population is Los Angeles County, California, with 10,163,507. The least populated county is Kalawao County, Hawaii, with only 90 residents. Loving County, Texas, is not far behind with 95 residents. Arkansas counties range in size from Calhoun County’s estimated 2019 population of 5,368 to Pulaski County’s 2019 estimated population of 393,956. Counties were among the earliest units of local government established in the Thirteen Colonies that would become the United States. Virginia created the first counties in order to ease the administrative workload in Jamestown. The House of Burgesses divided the colony first into four “incorporations” in 1617 and finally into eight shires or counties in 1634. America’s oldest intact county court records can be found at Eastville, Virginia, in Northampton (originally Accomac) County, dating to 1632. Maryland established its first county, St. Mary’s, in 1637, and Massachusetts followed in 1643. Pennsylvania and New York delegated significant power and responsibility from state government to county governments and thereby estabCOUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
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lished a pattern for most of the United States. The first county expenses of the county.” established in Arkansas was Arkansas County in 1813. Quorum courts and county judges were part of Arkansas Anthony Albanese said, “Despite the enormous role that lo- even during its time as a territory and have been described in cal government plays in our daily lives, the constitution makes all the constitutions of the state. As their names imply, quonot one mention of it.” And that’s true. When independence rum courts, justices of the peace, and county judges origicame, as a National Association of Counties (NACo) publica- nally had more of a judicial function rather than the primary tion said, “The framers of the Constitution did not provide for legislative and executive functions they now have. The 1874 local governments. Rather, they left the matter to the states. Constitution required that each county have one justice of Subsequently, early state constitutions generally conceptual- the peace for every 200 voters and a minimum of two per ized county government as an arm of the state.” In the 20th township, but the quorum court met only once each year century, the role of local governments strengthened and coun- to levy the taxes and rubber stamp the county budget that ties began providing more services, acquiring home rule and had already been drafted. One JP for every 200 voters. Can legislative bodies to enact local ordinances or laws that do not you imagine the size of the quorum court in Pulaski County under those requirements? conflict with state or federal law. County judges ran the county the rest of the year. By the The powers of counties arise from state law and vary widely. middle of the 20th century, In Connecticut and Rhode this unwieldy system had given Island, as I mentioned earlier, county judges nearly unlimited counties are geographic entipower within their counties. ties, but not governmental Various efforts began to reform jurisdictions. At the other ounty government in Arkansas has Arkansas’ system of county govextreme, Maryland counties changed over the years. We have ernment. handle almost all services, A new Arkansas constituincluding public education. always had a quorum court and the elected tion was proposed in 1970 North Carolina counties and it would have replaced have the responsibility of officials that we currently have, but the opera- the county government system public education. And there with something similar to what are other states where countion has changed. we have today. The voters of ties shoulder the responsibilArkansas did not approve that ity of education, Medicaid constitution. and other social services, Soon after the proposed Armental health, community kansas Constitution of 1970 was reduced to shambles by the colleges, and the list goes on. Medicaid and Aid to Dependent Children is the largest category of expenditure for New York Arkansas voters’ rejection of it in November 1970, Governorcounty government. And now we know why property taxes are elect Dale Bumpers of Charleston named a committee to study the possibility of presenting fragments of the document to the so high in some states. Having taken a quick look at county government structure voters. Soon after his inauguration, this committee, chaired by across the country, let’s bring it home to Arkansas where you Clark County Judge Randall Mathis, one of the few county serve. A county is defined in the very beginning of county gov- officials in the state who had supported the Constitution of ernment code in Title 14 of Arkansas Code Annotated (A.C.A.). 1970, began studying the matter. The committee turned its A.C.A. 14-14-102 says, “A county is a political subdivision of attention from the beginning to that portion of the document the state for the more convenient administration of justice and that had purported to deal with county government. During 1971, Mathis’ committee consulted with legislathe exercise of local legislative authority related to county affairs and is defined as a body politic and corporate operating within tors, members of the Governor’s staff, former Constitutional Convention delegates, the Association of Arkansas Counties specified geographic limitations established by law.” (AAC) and county officials in an effort to draft a proposal County government in Arkansas has changed over the years. that would be acceptable to members of those diverse groups. We have always had a quorum court and the elected officials The committee actually began its work by using county govthat we currently have, but the operation has changed. Quoernment provisions of the Local Government Article of the rum courts are described in Article 7 of the 1874 Arkansas Constitution of 1970 as a starting point and sought ways to Constitution. They “sit with and assist the County Judge in levying the county taxes, and in making appropriations for the See “STORY” on Page 20 > > >
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STORY make it palatable to various interest groups and voters of Arkansas. The committee submitted its proposal to the General Assembly in 1973. The General Assembly voted to propose the amendment to the Constitution and place it before the people of Arkansas on the November 1974 general election ballot. It passed narrowly with 51.5 percent of the vote and became Amendment 55 to the Arkansas Constitution. Most of this amendment became effective Jan. 1, 1977. Amendment 55 radically reformed county government in Arkansas, though the county executive’s titles are relics from the 1874 state constitution. County judges were transformed into county executives in many ways to conduct county business and to carry out and enforce the ordinances enacted by the quorum court. However, the county judge retains some judicial authority under Article 7 of the state constitution as judge of the county court. One great impact of this reform was reducing the number of JP positions on quorum courts so they could serve as legitimate legislative bodies, thereby increasing legislative efficiency. Justice of the Peace positions were reduced from 2,800 in 1974 to 751 in 1977. The number of Justices of the Peace is currently 783 because of the change in population of counties since the inception of Amendment 55. The county election committee redraws JP districts after each decennial census. As the legislative body of county government, the quorum courts have the duty to levy taxes and appropriate funds for the county budget. They also fix the number and compensation of deputies and county employees; set the compensation of county elected officials within a minimum and maximum established by law [the fee system of compensation yielded to a salary system under charges that fee-based compensation led to rampant corruption]; and fill vacancies in elective constitutional county offices. They provide for any service or performance of any function relating to county affairs and exercise other powers not inconsistent with law necessary for effective administration of authorized services and functions of county government. [§ 14-14-801(b)] Each quorum court is now required by state law to meet monthly. The county judge chairs the meeting. The judge has no vote on decisions made by the quorum court but can veto its decisions. The quorum court can overturn the judge’s veto with a three-fifths (60 percent) vote of the entire membership of the court. The size of the quorum court varies by county: the smallest counties have nine justices of the peace, while others have 11 or 13, and the three largest counties — Pulaski, Washington and Benton — have 15. Justices of the Peace on a quorum court are paid per diem [per meeting] rather than 20
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receiving a salary. Their pay scale is set by the Arkansas General Assembly, which establishes minimum and maximum per diems depending upon the size of the county. Amendment 55 also gave counties “home rule” so they could enact regulations and create new programs as long as they were not specifically prohibited by the constitution or state statutes. The first provision of Amendment 55 says, “A county, acting through its Quorum Court may exercise local legislative authority not denied it by the Constitution or by law.” While couched as a general grant of local autonomy, this provision grants significant alterations in the governmental authority and structure of county government. It was a grant of extensive legislative powers over local affairs, contrasting the very limited legislative power the quorum courts had under Article 7, § 30 of the 1874 Constitution. The second significant change was the reversal of the concept known to students of government and the law as the “Dillon Rule” of municipal corporations. As early as four years after the adoption of the 1874 Constitution, the Arkansas Supreme Court said counties, like cities and towns, were municipal corporations created by the legislature and derive all their powers from it, unless otherwise provided by the State Constitution. The court rearticulated that position on several occasions, reaffirming it again as late as 1967. The practical effect of this general grant of authority in Amendment 55 — home rule — to county government gives the legislative body sufficient flexibility to handle local matters and obviate any inclination it might have to run to the General Assembly for special local authority over specific subject matter. Of course, the General Assembly and the State Constitution can deny or limit the exercise of local authority. Amendment 55, a concise six-section amendment that can be printed easily on one sheet of paper, was implemented by the General Assembly through Act 742 of 1977 containing hundreds of sections. Those of us who have been around since the early days of Amendment 55 call Act 742 of 1977 the County Government Bible. Amendment 55, Act 742 of 1977 as Amended is a publication available on the AAC website under publications. Arkansas law does prioritize county budgeting practices by telling counties what they must fund and what they may fund [§ 14-14-802]. Arkansas counties must fund: (1) The administration of justice through the several courts of record; (2) Law enforcement for protection services and the custody of persons accused or convicted of crimes; (3) Real and personal property tax administration, including assessments, collection, and custody COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
AAC of tax proceeds; (4) Court and public records management, as provided by law, including registration, recordings, and custody of public record; and (5) All other services prescribed by state law for performance by each of the elected county officers of departments of county government. I hope you realize that “must listing” is telling county governments that they must adequately fund the county constitutional offices. That same law provides a laundry list of services and functions that a county may fund, but are not required to fund. And, of course, the “may list” is not all-inclusive because of “home rule” that county government enjoys. Any service related to county affairs may be funded if not specifically prohibited by state or constitutional law. County government is not solely made up by the quorum court and county judge. All 75 Arkansas counties have the following elected officials in one form or another. The following synopsis is not meant to be all inclusive of the duties of each office. • County Judge — The chief executive officer of the county with the executive powers to preside over the county quorum court, without a vote but with the power of veto; to authorize and approve disbursement of appropriated county funds; to operate the system of county roads; to administer ordinances enacted by the quorum court; to have custody of county property; and to hire county employees, except those persons employed by other elected officials of the county. The county judge actually wears two hats. Not only is he or she the chief executive officer but also is a judicial judge of the county court having exclusive original jurisdiction in all matters relating to county taxes, any other case that may be necessary to the internal improvement and local concern of the county, and other jurisdiction. [Arkansas Constitution, Article 7, § 28; A.C.A. 14-14-1105] • County Sheriff — The chief law enforcement officer in the county. The sheriff polices areas without local police, runs the county jail, and is an officer of the local courts. The sheriff’s office transports prisoners, serves subpoenas and, in many cases, acts as bailiff. The sheriff is also the tax collector in 25 Arkansas counties • County Assessor — Values real property and personal property for taxation and maintains parcel records. In Arkansas the assessor’s office goes through a continual three- or five- year real property reappraisal process. • Circuit Clerk — Collects, files, records, and processes legal court documents and reports to the Administrative Office of the Courts. Also responsible for court notices, warrants, subpoenas and maintaining a list of potential jurors. In Arkansas, with the exception of Sebastian County, the circuit clerk is also the county recorder, keeping an official county record of contracts, mortCOUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
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gages, plats, surety bonds, and deeds. • County Collector — Collects tax revenues for the various tax entities including the county, municipalities, public school district, and numerous types of improvement districts. In many counties the collector also collects county solid waste fees and dues for volunteer fire departments and fire protection districts. • County Coroner – Determines cause and manner of deaths in the jurisdiction. Two counties have an appointed coroner. • County Clerk – The official bookkeeper of the county and payroll clerk [in most cases], maintains voter registration, issues marriage licenses, clerk of the quorum court, and clerk of the equalization board. The county clerk position is combined with the circuit clerk in 18 Arkansas counties. • County Treasurer – Maintains county accounting records and issues monthly and annual financial reports, disburses tax revenues to municipalities, school districts and other jurisdictions, projects revenues for budget purposes; invests county money and acts as the county’s banker and finance officer. The treasurer is also the tax collector in five Arkansas counties. • County Surveyor — A registered land surveyor who surveys at the request of the county assessor or county judge, as well as assisting the public with property surveys or legal descriptions. Many counties have left this position vacant for years. Let’s go back to the definition of an Arkansas county. It is defined in law, by the implementing legislation of Amendment 55 as “a political subdivision of the state for the more convenient administration of justice and the exercise of local legislative authority related to county affairs...” The word I consider the most important word in this Arkansas law is the conjunction “and.” A word connecting two separate clauses and two separate functions: (1) the state function of justice conveniently administered in accordance with law by county government; and (2) the local function of legislative and administrative authority relating to county affairs. The State of Arkansas recognized decades ago the moral and legal obligation [Article 16, § 2] they had to counties. They realized the state must provide financial assistance to counties in order for the state’s citizens to have any equity and equality in the justice system that counties are required to provide — state services. I doubt that at the time they had any clue how profoundly correct that was. However, a 2015 study revealed that counties are subsidizing the state court system by about $50 million, not to mention other state mandates that counSee
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ties are funding to the detriment of county infrastructure and you are looking into the eyes and hearts of the people you pay for employees. I’ll save this discussion for another article. are there to serve. It teaches you to listen; it teaches you to If I were running for Governor or for a General Assembly be expansive in the people with whom you talk to, and that seat — and I’m not — this would be part of my campaign engagement gives you political judgment. Jack Gardner said, “Leaders come in many forms, with platform: “I’ll work to reverse cuts to the County Aid Fund and many styles and diverse qualiwill work to increase the approties. There are quiet leaders and priation to that fund to cover leaders you can hear in the next the costs of our counties in proe proud you are a county elected county. Some find strength in viding and administering state eloquence, some in judgment, official — a leader. When you are in services. They should be able and some in courage.” I say to use their county revenues for county government, you are on the ground, just lead in your style — but county services and for paying lead. their employees a decent wage. and you are looking into the eyes and heart I end our Great Story of I will work with counties across County Government with a this state to combat the chalof the people you are there to serve. little trivia. The newest counlenges they face. Counties are ty in the United States is the our partner, our helper in delivcity and county of Broomering state services. They deserve proper respect of the state. We field, Colorado, established in 2001 as a consolidated serve the exact same constituency. County government leaders, city-county. The newest county-equivalent is the Alaskan I’m on your side.” borough of Petersburg established in 2013. The newest ArSo, after finishing my imaginary campaign speech — in all kansas county is not very new — Cleburne County estabhonesty, we need to find a way of having a real conversation on lished in February 1883, formed out of parts of White, Van how you fund county government that works under so many Buren and Independence counties and named after Gen. state mandates requiring monetary expenditures. Underfund- Patrick Cleburne, a Confederate general of the Civil War. ing has been a part of our long history. Back in the day, I was always glad to say, “I’m a treasurer and Be proud you are a county elected official — a leader. When comptroller for the county.” You fill in the blank for yourself. you are in county government, you are on the ground, and County government is great and it’s a great story to tell.
Left: Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs into law House Bill 1515, which clarifies the law regarding compensation of elected county and township officers. Co-sponsored by state Sen. Lance Eads and Rep. Justin Boyd, the bill, now Act 400 of 2019, allows counties to offer members of the quorum court other insurance benefits, such as dental insurance, in addition to the medical insurance coverage they may already provide. Pictured with the Governor, from left to right, are Tyler Reedy, son of Sebastian County Justice of the Peace Rick Reedy; Rep. Boyd, Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Paul Elliott; and Sebastian County Justice of the Peace Danny Aldridge. — Photo by Holland Doran 22
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Opioid litigation ramps up
reetings from the trenches of the united lawsuit filed by Arkansas counties, cities, and the state, against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and other opioid defendants. This is an update, with a sprinkling of war stories, about this unprecedented case. Our goal is unchanging: a comprehensive remedy to the Arkansas Opioid Epidemic, funded by those responsible for unleashing this epidemic on our people. We remain pleased to report that the lawsuit — your lawsuit — is still on file with the Crittenden County Circuit Court, before 2nd Judicial District Circuit Judge Pamela Honeycutt, on the path to a trial before an Arkansas jury. I last updated you in the Summer 2018 issue of County Lines (more on this below). I told you that on Aug. 30, 2018, we — the lawyers representing the Arkansas governments in your case against the opioid industry — filed a unified response to all of the defendants’ many motions to dismiss, and began to pursue the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) “ARCOS” database, which tracks opioid sales nationwide throughout the supply chain. As expected, the defendants filed many reply briefs in support of their dismissal motions in early October 2018. On Oct. 12, we served written discovery on the defendants. We asked the defendants to provide sworn answers to written questions and disclose documentation and information relevant to the opioid epidemic in Arkansas and the defendants’ role in the epidemic. Written discovery is a standard part of civil litigation, and we made no secret about the fact we intend to litigate this case. The defendants and their legions of law firms responded by filing numerous motions requesting a stay of discovery and various other relief from the discovery, rather than respond to the discovery as defendants usually do. At a hearing on Oct. 31, 2018, Judge Honeycutt appropriately and cautiously granted a temporary stay of discovery but did not rule on the defendants’ motions to stay the case. Our hands were tied, temporarily. With suboptimal news to report when it came time for the next seasonal issue of County Lines, I cashed in my one-and-only get-out-of-jail-free card with the editor, which is why you haven’t heard from me in six months. Throughout November, December, and January 2019, the defendants filed scores of “cross-notices” regarding depositions taking place all over the country through the national Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) case lodged in Ohio. The defendants’ attorneys attempted to force us (your lawyers) to attend these depositions without access to documentation and information necessary to prepare for the depositions. We filed a motion to “quash” the many cross-notices of deposition, and asked to be heard on that motion and our objections to a stay COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
of discovery at the hearing scheduled for Jan. 29, 2019. This time, on Jan. 29, we had the whole day scheduled with Judge Honeycutt. Everyone took advantage — I’ve never seen so much ground covered in a single day of Colin Jorgensen court between a single judge and Risk Management lawyers (admittedly, a very large Litigation Counsel number of lawyers). Counsel presented about five hours of oral argument to Judge Honeycutt, and we were able to fully argue many (but not all) of the defendants’ motions to dismiss. Judge Honeycutt took almost all of those arguments under advisement, which means she will issue a written ruling later. We remain confident that the plaintiff counties, cities, and state will be permitted to pursue their claims against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and others, for violating Arkansas law. We look forward to Judge Honeycutt’s rulings on these issues that we have written and argued about extensively in the case. On Jan. 29, Judge Honeycutt also ruled from the bench regarding several issues and motions apart from issues raised in the defendants’ motions to dismiss. First, Judge Honeycutt announced she will quash the defendants’ cross-notices of depositions as we requested on behalf of the plaintiffs. Judge Honeycutt explained that although it might make sense to coordinate discovery with other cases, the temporary stay of discovery “did strap the Plaintiffs from being able to get information that they needed before those depositions.” Therefore, she quashed the cross-notices of deposition. Second, Judge Honeycutt announced she will lift the stay of discovery, as we also requested on behalf of the plaintiffs. She will lift the stay that she put in place on Halloween, and she will deny the defendants’ motions for a longer (or indefinite) stay of discovery. The defendants will be required to respond to the written discovery served on them in October. Judge Honeycutt explained the effect of this best at the hearing when she said she is lifting the stay of discovery “so that the case can start moving.” Third, Judge Honeycutt revisited an issue we raised on behalf of the plaintiffs at the outset: the fair application of litigation privileges — the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product privilege — for all parties to the case, including the government plaintiffs. Without a protective order, because See
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the plaintiffs are all state and local government entities, the plaintiffs’ records are generally subject to disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including records that are confidential by court rule in litigation, such as attorney-client communications and attorney work product. From the beginning, we have argued that because of the unique nature of this case, the Court should enter a protective order to protect the integrity of the case by allowing the governments to rely on litigation privileges that private parties (including the defendants in this case) are always afforded in litigation. Upon revisiting this issue on Jan. 29, Judge Honeycutt granted the FOIA protective order that we requested on behalf of the plaintiff governments to ensure fairness in this case. After the January hearing, we negotiated and submitted a written protective order to Judge Honeycutt, which she signed and filed, formalizing her rulings by lifting the stay of discovery, quashing the defendants’ cross-notices of depositions, protecting the defendants’ confidential data so that the governments can access records and data needed to prosecute the case, and protecting the plaintiff governments’ litigation privi-
leges to ensure fairness in the litigation. We had another full-day hearing on March 28. We completed oral argument on all motions to dismiss, and Judge Honeycutt has now taken all of them under advisement. She ruled from the bench on one issue in March, deciding that Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington has standing to bring claims on behalf of the state in this case. These rulings are significant — both for the case in Arkansas and how the case fits into the tapestry of opioid litigation across the country. From the beginning and through this writing, this case has been the only case uniting counties, cities, and state government in a single action. To our knowledge, there is no other case uniting even counties and cities together, much less with the state as a plaintiff in the same case. Because of Judge Honeycutt’s rulings, the united Arkansas case is also now one of the few cases in the country that is in state court (not part of the national MDL case) and is proceeding to discovery. With no further delay, we — the governments of Arkansas — will prosecute this case and move closer to our unchanging goal: Opioid Justice for a United Arkansas.
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COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
WELLNESS & SAFETY
Take care of yourself
e say and hear, “Take care of yourself,” all the time, to the point that we do not really think about what it means. If we do think about it, we make excuses why we cannot take care of ourselves right now: there were the elections, the holidays, the new year, (for some) taking on a new office, the legislative session. If all that is not enough, we can always use the weather as an excuse. After all, it has been all over the page this winter. It is time to stop and actually think about and put into action the things we need to do to take care of ourselves. You only have this one life. No one can do this for you. Here are a few suggestions: • Be aware of the quality of the things that you eat. You would not put kerosene in your car and expect it to run well. Your body needs good fuel too. Eat some fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and good proteins. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. • Get some exercise. It does not have to be a brutal workout at the gym. Do something you enjoy — take a walk, ride a bike, go dancing. • Drink water. There are countless benefits to drinking water. Make it your go-to drink. • Get some rest. Sleep is a must. That is the time your body rebuilds and rejuvenates. • Learn something new. It is good for your brain. Learning new things keeps your brain healthy, engaged, and active. • Schedule some time for you. Even five minutes a day is better than nothing. Pray, read, meditate, watch the sunset. When you have more time, take a leisurely walk or drive to a place you enjoy. Get a massage. Take a relaxing, hot bath. When you do take time for yourself, make sure to disconnect from technology. • Do a good deed. Give someone a compliment. Open a door. Pay for the person behind you in the drivethrough. It does not have to be big or expensive. Look for opportunities to do a kind deed. It will warm your heart as much as the object of your kindness. The above are some things for you to do for yourself. However, this is a publication for counties, county officials, and county employees. So, let’s talk about the place where you spend at least 1/3 of your time — your office, job, work environment. It’s a place that can give you great enjoyment and satisfaction, as well as frustration and stress, all in the same day. We would all like to show up to work and have everyone get along and work hard toward a common goal on a daily basis. Some of us are blessed to be in a situation like that. Some of us have to work a little harder to create that environment. Nevertheless, it is an environment worth COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
working for. If it is not a healthy working environment it will affect your physical and mental health. If you want a cohesive, productive, effective team you might want to consider supplementing your managerial Becky Comet abilities with some skill building AAC Member and team building training. The Benefits Manager Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) has a partnership with a service called Southwest Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This organization offers support through individual counseling, educating, behavioral risk management, and training. Southwest EAP staff will come to your county and provide educational and prevention training for employees in these areas: marital and family relationships, substance abuse, stress, interpersonal relationships, healthy habits, financial issues, work/life balance, diversity, effective communication, workplace violence, and harassment prevention. Southwest EAP also offers additional training for supervisors in these areas: reasonable suspicion drug testing, identifying and managing poor performance, conflict resolution, time management, personality management, project management, communication and dynamic listening, and team building. You may think this service is way too expensive for your county. To receive individual counseling for employees and their families — families are included — the education and training mentioned above done in your building, crisis response services, and more is $19 per employee per year. We need to “take care” in our individual lives. Yet, we also need to “take care” of our work lives as well. We all have stress. We all have conflicts. We all have problems. That is part of life. How we handle those stresses, conflicts, and problems makes all the difference. If you need assistance in creating a more positive, cohesive environment in your office to enhance the effectiveness or your staff, call Southwest EAP. Here’s the necessary contact information: Terri Murphree Southwest EAP 415 N. McKinley St, Suite 520 Little Rock , AR 72205 501-663-1797 or 1-800-777-1797 www.southwesteap.com Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at bcomet@ arcounties.org or (501) 372-7550. 25
Craighead County Sheriff new to AAC board Story and Photo by holland doran AAC Communications Coordinator
raighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd is a seasoned law enforcement officer, department manager and community leader now, but he remembers how he got his not-so glamorous start. He isn’t ashamed to tell you that he started at the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office in 1991 cleaning the toilets at the detention center. It’s his “claim to fame,” he said. It wasn’t a noteworthy position, but it was a start for a 21-year-old with dreams of working in law enforcement. Boyd and his wife of 25 years, Tonya, and their daughter, Neely, live in Jonesboro, where he was born and raised. He knows Jonesboro, and knew that’s where he wanted to stay. “It’s a close-knit community … it’s a great community to live and work and raise a family,” he said. It’s also the place he chose to spend his 28-year career in law enforcement. “Since I was very young, I knew that law enforcement was the career path I wanted to follow,” he said. Besides cleaning toilets, Boyd also worked at the detention center as a dispatcher and detention officer. He graduated from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) in 1993, and in 1999 was promoted to patrol supervisor. He was named assistant deputy in 2001. He began his first term as sheriff in 2013, and has run unopposed, up until the 2018 election. “I wouldn’t change anything about my career,” he said. “I love my career.” Some may ask how Boyd could love such a demanding and dangerous job as sheriff. For Boyd, it’s an easy answer: it’s rewarding. Some of the most rewarding aspects of his job are when he’s able to intervene in a serious situation. “I think back on several occasions that I knew I had a chance to help someone out of a dark part of their life and give them a hand to get out of it,” he said. “That’s what keeps me coming back every day.” These harrowing situations have moved Boyd to become ac26
tive in improving how officers handle mental health issues. As a member of the Association of Arkansas Counties’ (AAC) Legislative Board, he has been able to be a voice for sheriffs before state lawmakers on issues such as mental health. “For five years we’ve worked very hard with our legislators to try to pass new legislation to improve how law enforcement handles situations,” he said. Boyd will have a larger role in pushing legislation that will impact law enforcement as he settles in to his new position on the AAC Board of Directors. “I am honored to be on the board; I’ve worked for several years on the legislative board of AAC,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity to expand that role. As a whole, we have to work on the state level to see our communities improve.” Adding to his list of priorities are 911 reform, jail funding and officer safety. “Officer safety is a major issue for me,” he said. “I want to make sure our officers are trained. One of my goals is to make sure we all return home to our families at night.” Boyd has been recognized by many organizations. In 2018, the National Association of Social Workers elected him Official of the Year. In 2017 he was named Crime Stopper of the Year. In 2015 he was selected as Internal Order of Police Officer of the Year. He also serves as executive secretary on the board of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
AAC welcomes new RMF litigation counsel
Story and Photo by holland doran AAC Communications Coordinator
aNan Davis has always wanted to be like her father, the late Bob “Soddy” Arnold, who was state representative for almost 20 years. “Although he was not a lawyer, I wanted to be like my Daddy in the way that he was often able to help people navigate challenging issues in their lives,” she said. Navigating challenging issues is a typical day for Davis, who joined the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) as RMF Litigation Counsel on January 1. At AAC, Davis is challenged by a full civil rights litigation caseload, answering legal questions concerning law enforcement or constitutional/civil rights matters. “I really love being a lawyer and particularly enjoy the area of law in which I practice,” she said. “The constant challenge of the evolution of the law and society makes every case a unique experience.” Davis knew she wanted to study law even before she graduated from Arkadelphia High School in 1990. In addition to her parents’ strong belief in public service, Davis was inspired to pursue law by her cousins: the late Eighth Circuit Judge Richard Arnold; his brother, Eighth Circuit Judge Morris “Buzz” Arnold; and Former Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice W.H. “Dub” Arnold. After high school, Davis wasted no time in pursuing her career, and started her undergraduate degree at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1990. In the fall of 1992, she studied abroad at the Universite de Michel Montaigne Bordeaux in France, and then graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1994 from Ouachita Baptist University with a bachelor’s degree in history and French. Davis earned her Juris Doctorate degree with Honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of law in 1996. Davis’ first job out of law school was as a law clerk for the late Hon. Andree Layton Roaf, the first African-American woman to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court. In 1998, Davis joined Perroni & James Law Firm where she practiced criminal defense and civil litigation until 2001, when she became the first elected Maumelle city COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
attorney. She served as city attorney until 2014. During this time she also joined Catlett and Stodola Law Firm. “As the Maumelle city attorney, I handled all legal matters for the city of Maumelle, including representation of the mayor and city council, all boards and commissions, and city employees or officials,” she said. As city attorney, she also served as the prosecutor in Maumelle District Court, and in 2005, she joined Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Law Firm. “At the Rainwater firm I worked exclusively on county defense cases,” she said. “I have handled cases at all stages of litigation and appeal and on a wide variety of issues, including allegations of constitutional violations against county officials and law enforcement officers, such as excessive force, unlawful arrest, denial of due process, denial of medical care, and unconstitutional conditions of confinement,” she said. Davis is also a certified law enforcement trainer and often leads training seminars on issues related to jail law and the legalities of the use of force. When it comes to accomplishments, Davis is most proud of her daughters, Elizabeth, 21, Emmeline “Emme,” 18, and Ella Fu, 14. When it comes to professional accomplishments, she’s “most proud of the respect that I feel from clients and other lawyers,” she said. “I work hard to earn their trust and handle cases in a way that is both honorable and zealous. “ 27
New RMF litigation counsel joins AAC staff Story and Photo by holland doran AAC Communications Coordinator
t a young age Melissa Hollowell was able to make a case — one of the first signs a law career would be in her future. “My mom tells me that I always liked to argue.” Her mother may not have viewed it as constructive at the time, but her capacity to argue helped her become the first college graduate and attorney in her family, achievements her parents were proud of. “My parents were always very supportive and stressed the importance of education,” she said. Along with her ability to persuade, Hollowell is accomplished in English, reading and writing. These abilities helped her in pursuing a law profession. “I thought that being an attorney would be a good career, and that I would be able to utilize my strengths,” Hollowell said. Hollowell is now using her strengths as litigation counsel at AAC, where she began Jan. 1, 2019. Hollowell was born in Belleville, Ill., but her family is from Arkansas. They moved back to the state when she was 12 years old. In 2011, she moved to Little Rock while she pursued her undergraduate and law degrees. In 2014, she earned a bachelor’s in business administration with honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and in 2017 she earned a Juris Doctorate degree with honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. While attending law school and studying for the bar exam, which she passed on the first try, Hollowell worked as a law clerk at the AAC from June 2015-May 2017. As a clerk, she gained experience in auto defense litigation and codification. After she finished her law clerk stint, Hollowell worked for a law firm in Arkadelphia for about a year. There, she specialized in personal injury work, which is the opposite of what she’s doing now as a litigation counsel who 28
defends county officials and employees. This experience has proven to be valuable. “It was really useful for me to see the other side of what I’m doing now/what I did here as a clerk, and to learn how personal injury attorneys think and what factors are important to them in a case,” she said. “I think that this gives me a better perspective on auto cases, and it helps me to be able to evaluate the case from the viewpoint of both sides.” As litigation counsel, Hollowell spends the majority of her time researching and writing, and asking defendants questions to help her make a case. This is true for both county drivers and jails. “I will need to be in touch with the driver of our vehicle,” she said. “I will need to know exactly what happened during the accident so I know the best strategy for defending them.” If she is defending a county jail against a lawsuit from an inmate, Hollowell may need to question the jail’s policies and practices, and the details around an inmate’s incarceration. Hollowell has found that a law career requires a balancing act, which can be challenging. “I think one of the most challenging aspects of being an attorney is finding how to successfully balance my practice and everything that I have to get accomplished,” she said. “Also, it can be really challenging to come up with creative new arguments in some cases.” Life is not all about litigating for Hollowell. In her spare time she likes to travel and spend time with her dog, Grant. On weekends you can find her having brunch, spending time with friends and family, and watching Razorback football. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
AAC welcomes new paralegal to staff Story and Photo by holland doran AAC Communications Coordinator
hen an Arkansas county inmate sues a jail for alleged mistreatment or a violation of rights, their case may end up on Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) Paralegal Fonda
Fitzgerald’s desk. These are not just any cases; they’re from pro se plaintiffs — inmates who are acting as their own attorney. This can make for some interesting reading, Fitzgerald said. “The pro se plaintiffs are getting more creative all the time,” Fitzgerald said. “The biggest challenge with a pro se plaintiff is they often don’t follow typical court rules, and since their lawsuits are usually handwritten, it can be challenging deciphering their handwriting.” Fitzgerald, who joined the AAC staff on January 1, has had time to practice reading these cases. She’s been in the legal field since high school when she worked as a law clerk at Henry, Henry and Henry in West Plains, Missouri. Fitzgerald, originally from West Plains, Missouri, earned her bachelor’s degree in office management from Harding University. Then she married her husband of 26 years, Allen, and moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We spent two years and two very cold winters there,” she said. “We wanted to get a warmer climate and began looking for jobs down south.” They moved to Little Rock in 1990 and in 1993 after their daughter, Anne Elizabeth, was born, they moved to Maumelle. By the time she moved to Arkansas, Fitzgerald had gained paralegal experience at two law firms: Henry, Henry and Henry in West Plains, Missouri, and Glasson, Grove and Sole in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She briefly dipped her toes in jobs outside of law, working as an executive administrative assistant at Flour Pot Gourmet Foods, and then at a medical clinic. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
“The work at the clinic was boring, so I looked for another job, which led me to Mike Rainwater in 1990,” she said. She worked for Mike Rainwater for 28 years, and said he had the greatest influence on her development as a paralegal. “He really taught me to be a paralegal and to be proactive,” she said. “He stressed the importance of doing something even when you were unsure of what to do, because it was better than doing nothing.” Fitzgerald applies this wisdom to her job every day as she works to provide security to jail employees who are being sued by inmates. “It can be really stressful to a jailer in the county jail that is being sued,” she said. “No one wants to be named in a federal lawsuit, and I like that we can give them some assurance and peace of mind that the case is being handled.” Even though her job can be stressful, Fitzgerald plans to “keep doing what I’m doing.” “I enjoy the fast pace and the interesting claims that we see defending pro se jail cases,” she said. “I also enjoy helping the county officials and personnel.” Fitzgerald has settled well into her new position at AAC and “looks forward to being part of the team here.” She likes “working with the expanded legal department here, and continuing to work defending the county officials when they are served with lawsuits.” Outside of work, Fitzgerald likes to read and spend time with her family and Yorkies. She anticipates her free time will soon be filled with taking care of her grandchild, who is expected to arrive in May. 29
ASSOCIATION OF ARKANSAS COUNTIES
51 ANNUAL CONFERENCE HOT SPRINGS CONVENTION CENTER GARLAND COUNTY, ARKANSAS st
August 21‐23, 2019
PRE‐REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7TH PRE‐REGISTRATION ON‐SITE REGISTRATION Officials, Employees, and Guests $125.00 $145.00 Spouses $80.00 $100.00 Non‐Members $145.00 $165.00 PLEASE ONLY USE THIS FORM IF YOU PLAN TO PAY BY CHECK WE OFFER ONLINE REGISTRATION FOR THOSE PAYING BY CREDIT CARD ONLINE REGISTRATION – WWW.ARCOUNTIES.ORG
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PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY
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_________________________ STATE ______________ ZIP _______________
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(Pre‐Registration ‐ $80 for Spouse / $125 for Guest)
SPOUSE / GUEST NAME _____________________________________________ (Non‐County Employee)
AMOUNT ENCLOSED: __________ (Make Check Payable to: Association of Arkansas Counties) CONFERENCE REGISTRATION FEES MUST ACCOMPANY THIS FORM BEFORE REGISTRATION CAN BE PROCESSED REFUND POLICY: Notify AAC Office before 4:30 PM on Wednesday, August 7th to Receive Refund of Conference Registration Fees – NO Refunds will be Issued After August 7th
COMPLETE REGISTRATION AND MAIL WITH PAYMENT TO: Association of Arkansas Counties • 1415 West Third Street • Little Rock, AR 72201 or E‐Mail to email@example.com For registration questions please call: (501) 372‐7550
ASSOCIATION OF ARKANSAS COUNTIES 51st
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August 21‐23, 2019
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Shotgun Start at 1:00 PM Two‐Person Scramble Format $80 Per Person All Proceeds Benefit the Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Fund o Includes Cart, Green Fees, Lunch, Balls, Beverages, Snacks, and Goodie Bag o Prizes Awarded for First, Second, and Third Place Teams in Each Flight
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FEATURE Pictured on the front row are Perry County Judge Toby Davis, Rep. Spencer Hawks, Perry County Treasurer Jan Moore and Perry County Coroner Bill Greene. Pictured on the back row are District Judge Andrew Gill, Perry County Assessor Amanda Hawkins, Sen. Jason Rapert, Sen. Mark Johnson, Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery and Rep. Rick Beck.
Perry County hosts legislators for reception
Story and Photos by holland doran AAC Communications Coordinator
erry County hosted state legislators, Perry County officials and employees, and local business owners for a reception to connect one-on-one with lawmakers Jan. 8. About 50 people attended the event held at the Perry County courthouse. Legislators who attended included Rep. Spencer Hawks, Sen. Jason Rapert, Sen. Mark Johnson and Rep. Rick Beck. Perry County Judge Toby Davis said he was pleased with the turnout and thanked legislators for their readiness to build relationships with Perry County. Davis said an event such as a reception gives county and state elected officials rare one-on-one time to discuss issues facing counties. “The state legislators are the people who represent us, and it’s great for county and local officials and business people to get together to discuss the issues that benefit everybody,” he said. Davis urges other counties to schedule time to meet face-to-face with legislators. “I encourage other counties to host legislators because a lot of people, like business owners, did not know who their legislators were,” he said. Perry County Treasurer Jan Moore, who organized the reception, echoes Davis. “This is the only way you’re going to meet them [legislators],” she said. “They need to see where you are and let them know that we need their help on some issues.” Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery hopes Perry County’s event would motivate other counties. “I would encourage every sheriff, county and city leader to meet with our legislators,” he said. “This [a reception] gives us a better chance to meet with them one-on-one to discuss our local needs for the betterment of our citizens.” 32
Perry County Treasurer Jan Moore chats with state Rep. Rick Beck during the reception.
Perry County Judge Toby Davis, Perry County Justice of the Peace Charles “Nub” Camp and Yell County Judge Mark Thone attend the reception.
COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
AAC Directory of County & District Officials 2019-2022 ORDER FORM PLEASE USE THIS FORM ONLY IF YOU ARE PAYING BY CHECK. GO TO WWW.ARCOUNTIES.ORG TO ORDER ONLINE AND PAY BY CREDIT CARD.
We would like to order ____________ copies of the 2019-2022 AAC Directory of County and District Officials. Enclosed is $__________ for __________ copies at $15.00 each. NAME:_________________________________________ ADDRESS:_______________________________________ CITY:___________________________________________ STATE:____________________ ZIP CODE:_____________
MAIL THIS ORDER FORM TO: Association of Arkansas Counties 1415 West Third Street Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Please make checks payable to: Association of Arkansas Counties
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Left: Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs The Public Safety Act (House Bill 1564, now Act 660 of 2019) into law before an excited group of legislators; county and district officials; state agency officials; AAC staff; and others. The signing took place in the Governor’s Conference Room on April 9, 2019. The Governor called it a “really special day” and said the bill has been a “priority because of the need to reform our 911 system and [provide] better funding of our 911 system.”
Above, Middle: Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Director A.J. Gary explains how the reform will affect his agency. Above: Gov. Asa Hutchinson commends Sen. Jason Rapert and Rep. Michelle Gray for their leadership in getting the bill passed in their respective chambers. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
Above: Following the bill signing, Gov. Hutchinson shakes hands with Madison County Judge Frank Weaver, who serves as president of the County Judges Association of Arkansas, and presents him with a pen used to signed the bill. Left: AAC Executive Director speaks about how the reform bill will impact counties and save lives. 35
Newly Elected Officials’ Training
Newly elected county officials learn procedures, offered resources as they take office
Newly elected judges pose with Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC) staff members and more tenured judges during their new elect training at the AAC on Dec. 3, 2018.
Above, left: AAC Legal Counsel Lindsey Bailey speaks to newly elected circuit clerks during their training held on Dec. 4, 2018, at the AAC. Above, right: Circuit clerks are briefed on procedures and duties of their offices. From left to right are Clark County Circuit Clerk Brian Daniel, Pope County Circuit Clerk Rachel Oertling, Indepence County Circuit Clerk Greg Wallis, Hot Spring County Circuit Clerk Teresa Pilcher, and Johnson County Circuit Clerk Monica King.
Left: AAC Chief Legal Counsel Mark Whitmore speaks to newly elected coroners. Above, middle: Arkansas County Coroners’ Association Treasurer and Garland County Coroner Stuart Smedley gives an overview of the association. Above, right: Union County Coroner Stormey Primm, Madison County Coroner Douglas Rabold and Desha County Coroner Billy Bates wait for the day-long training session to begin. 36
COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
Left: Lafayette County Treasurer/Collector Sandy Coleman Aultman and Desha County Treasurer Shirley Kozubski flip through copies of County Lines magazine. Above: Sevier County Treasurer Heather Barnes and Clark County Treasurer Karen Arnold pose for a photo.
Newly elected sheriffs pose for a group photo during their newly elected officials training, held Nov. 26-30, 2018, at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. They are joined by Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Scott Bradley (far right).
County clerks take a group photo during their new elect training. Pictured are Pulaski County Clerk/Circuit Clerk Terri Hollingsworth, Woodruff County Clerk Jackie Meredith, Benton County Clerk Betsy Harrell, Carroll County Clerk Connie Doss, Franklin County Clerk Tammy Sisson, Pope County Clerk Pam Ennis, Montgomery County Clerk/Circuit Clerk Penny Black, Columbia County Clerk Tammy Kimble Wiltz, Grant County Clerk/Circuit Clerk Geral Harrison and Pike County Clerk Randee Reid. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
The AAC hosted more than 100 newly elected justices of the peace on Dec. 8, 2018, at the AAC building. The day-long training session was geared toward teaching the new JPs more about the duties and procedures of their positions.
PHOTO RECAP Left: Union County Collector Karen Scott and Union County Chief Deputy Collector Haley Silmon pose for a photo.Below: Independence County Collector Paul Albert and Miller County Collector Laura Bates chat.
Above: Van Buren County Assessor Emma Smiley and Yell County Assessor Sherry Hicks look at their procedural manuals. Right: Director of the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department Bear Chaney greets Clark County Assessor Lanna Clark.
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What Our Clients Are Saying: Larry Davis, Saline County Treasurer: “….We never have any problems with the software but when we have questions, they are happy to assist. They always return our calls, are open to suggestions, and they keep up with any new laws that pertain to us. The staff is great……. I highly recommend Financial Intelligence.” Sherry Bell, Columbia County Clerk: “….This software for payroll, accounts payable and general ledger is designed specifically to meet the requirements of Arkansas County Government and Arkansas Legislative Audit….. The software offers detailed information on all levels to assist not just my department, County Clerk, but other elected officials on budgetary inquiries….” Betty Boling, Montgomery County Treasurer: “….In addition to the monetary savings for our county, the electronic storage capabilities allow easy and efficient retrieval of records and documents. This is a comfortable feeling to have when you are responsible for keeping records and documents in case of a disaster. For me FI is the best way to go for data security, cost savings, time savings, customer service and support. I highly recommend Financial Intelligence and their very friendly staff to anyone whose goal is to operate their county office more efficiently….” Susan Ashmore, Garland County Comptroller: “Since the establishment of the Finance Department in Garland County, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Financial Intelligence staff on many occasions. They have always exhibited excellent support and service. We are grateful for this and also for the open line of communication we have with them. FI makes sure we are equipped with the latest updates, and this keeps Garland County in compliance with all State and Federal mandates.” Jenay Mize, Baxter County Treasurer: “……They are continually improving their product! The functionality of this software is very good! I love the budgeting module and how every entry that is made, is date and time stamped! The prompt response time is unheard of in other software systems.” Margaret Darter, Faulkner County Clerk: “….The personnel at FI have gone above and beyond to make my job as easy as a click of the mouse! When we have the occasional issue, we contact FI support and within minutes our problems are fixed. On the rare occasion that it may take a few days, FI personnel always keeps me posted of the situation and the expected timeline of when the problem will be fixed…. I cannot imagine running a County Clerk’s office without FI.” Tim Stockdale, Garland County Treasurer: “……..Whenever we have a question, their technician response time is so fast that it seems like they are only in the next room…….We are 100% satisfied with their state of the art software and the expertise and professionalism of their staff……” For complete testimonials visit us at financial-intel.com
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Treasurers tour Capitol during conference
Treasurers take a group photo with Rep. Carol Dalby, Rep. Charlene Fite and Rep. Les Warren on the Arkansas House of Representatives floor.
The Arkansas County Treasurers’ Association (ACTA) gathered for their quarterly meeting Feb. 27-March 1, in Little Rock/Pulaski County. Attendees heard from auditors Kim Williams and Marti Steel, Craighead County Treasurer and ACTA President Terry McNatt and AAC Risk Managment Fund Counsel Brandy McAllister. Treasurers also toured the state Capitol.
Craighead County Treasurer and ACTA President Terry McNatt (right) stops to talk with State Rep. Dan Sullivan on the steps leading up to the House chamber.
Cleveland County Treasurer Jack Hopson (left), Saline County Treasurer Larry Davis and Jefferson County Treasurer Vonysha Goodwin (right) learn about historical land documents from Nikki Heck, director of public relations for the Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
Left: Mississippi County Treasurer Peggy Meatte stops to talk with Rep. Monte Hodges during a tour of the Capitol. Above: Treasurers take a group photo on the Arkansas State Senate steps. 41
Pope County Assessor and Arkansas County Assessors’ Association President Dana Baker and Baxter County Assessor and Association VicePresident Jayme Nicholson smile for a photo.
Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins shares his vision for increasing public safety and improving inmate rehabilization with assessors.
Assessors visit Capitol, meet legislators during meeting The Arkansas County Assessors’ Association held its spring meeting Feb. 19-21, in North Little Rock/ Pulaski County. Attendees heard from speakers Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins, State Sen. Breanne Davis, AAC Legal Counsel Lindsey Bailey, and others. They also visited the state Capitol and met with legislators.
Assessors chat during a legislative luncheon during which they were able to meet and talk with their legislators.
Above, Left: Assessors chat during a meeting break. Above, Right: State Sen. Breanne Davis updates assessors on bills that she’s working on and encourages assessors to contact her and her fellow senators with questions and concerns on legislation. 42
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Circuit Clerks meet in Pulaski County, talk to legislators
Washington County Judge Joseph K. Wood assigns circuit clerks Candace Edwards, Rachel Oertling, Kyle Sylvester and Debbie Wise characters from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” book to encourage them in their professional journey.
The Arkansas Circuit Clerks Association met Feb. 19-21, in Little Rock/ Pulaski County. They heard from Sebastian County Circuit Clerk Sharon Brooks and Faulkner County Circuit Clerk Crystal Taylor on e-filing grants, auditors Kim Williams and Marti Steel on fraud issues, and AAC Governmental Affairs Director Josh Curtis on legislation. They also attended state Senate and House committee meetings.
Above: Cleveland County Circuit Clerk Jimmy Cummings (right) talks with Arkansas State Sen. Trent Garner. Right: Circuit clerks gather for a photo on the Arkansas State Capitol steps. Sebastian County Circuit Clerk and Recorder Sharon Brooks instructs circuit clerks how to submit e-recording grant applications at the meeting.
Crawford County Circuit Clerk and AAC Legislative Committee Member Sharon Blount-Baker, Pope County Circuit Clerk Rachel Oertling, and Crawford County Circuit Clerk Office Administrator Carrie Kilgore talk during a break.
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County Clerks meet in Pulaski County, visit House, Senate The Arkansas Association of County Clerks held their winter meeting in Little Rock/Pulaski County Feb. 12-14. Attendees heard from a variety of speakers on legislation, elections and other topics pertinent to their offices. Clerks also took a tour of the Capitol building, visited with legislators and attended Senate and House meetings.
County clerks visit the Arkansas State Treasurer’s Office during a tour of the Capitol. They were able to hold more than $500,000 kept in the state vault.
Franklin County Deputy Clerk Heather Berry and Franklin County Clerk Tammy Sisson take a photo with state Rep. Sarah Capp, right, in the Arkansas State Capitol rotunda.
Above, county clerks gather for a photo on the steps leading up to the Arkansas State Senate chamber at the Arkansas State Capitol. They took a tour of the building and also had the opportunity to visit with their legislators as part of their winter meeting in Little Rock/Pulaski County.
Crawford County Clerk Teresa Armer-Cobbe, Lawrence County Clerk Tina Stower and Nevada County Clerk Julie Stockton Oliver listen during the opening of their association meeting held at AAC.
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Above, Left: Madison County Judge and CJAA President Frank Weaver (left) talks with state Rep. Harlan Breaux (center) and Sen. Bob Ballinger and wife, Jessica. Above, Right: Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd speaks to CJAA conference attendees.
Judges hold winter meeting, talk with legislators
County judges pack the meeting room for their conference. They heard from a variety of speakers, including Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd and Lindsey Holman with National Association of Counties (NACO).
The County Judges’ Association of Arkansas (CJAA) held its winter meeting in North Little Rock/Pulaski County Feb. 3-5. They discussed topics such as road and bridge funding, disaster recovery and crisis stabilization units. They also spoke with legislators during a reception held at the AAC building. Calhoun County Judge Floyd Nutt listens during a session at the CJAA winter conference in Little Rock/Pulaski County.
Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin Harrison (left) talks with state Rep. Carol Dalby during the judges’ association legislative reception held at AAC. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
Sheriffs hold meeting, discuss bills with legislators The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association (ASA) hosted sheriffs, law enforcement and jail administrators from across the state in Little Rock/Pulaski County, Jan. 27-31, 2019, for their annual winter conference. Attendees heard from a variety of speakers, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson and U.S. Attorney for Arkansas’ Western District Dak Kees.
For the first time in the ASA’s history, Arkansas legislators were invited to their conference for an open discussion on legislative issues. Above in the front row are state representatives and members of the House Judiciary Committee Nicole Clowney, Cindy Crawford, Sarah Capp, Vice-Chair Rebecca Petty, Chair Carol Dalby, Dwight Tosh, Doug House, Andrew Collins and Charlene Fite. Sens. Stephanie Flowers and Alan Clark, vice chair and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, respectively, address sheriffs’ questions.
ASA Executive Director Scott Bradley (center) and retired Sebastian County Sheriff and former ASA President Bill Hollenbeck (right) chat with Gov. Asa Hutchinson during a conference luncheon. Gov. Hutchinson was the guest speaker. Sheriffs took a break from their conference to visit the state Capitol building. Above, they gather on the steps leading up the Arkansas Senate chamber. 46
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hen you participate in the A A C Wo r k e r s ’ C o m p e n sa tio n Tru s t, 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 – t h e y ’ r e s i m p l y t h e b e s t a t w h a t t h e y d o ! 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 $ 2 8 MI L L I O N dollars in dividends, payable to members of the fund. In fact, we mailed $750,000 in savings back to member counties in August 2018.
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he AAC Risk Management Fund program offers General Liability, and Auto and Property Protection. The fund is managed by a board of trustees comprised of your county colleagues. As a member, you help develop the fund’s products to meet the needs of our unique and valued county resources and employees.
ur latest added benefit is the Justice Bridge video/audio communication system for law enforcement, prisons and the judiciary. The program allows inmate visits and hearings to be conducted via teleconferenece, provides advancements in parole and probation processes, and improves courtroom safety and efficiency.
Justice Bridge This innovative program is a simple video/audio communicaiton system for use in circuit and district courts, sheriff’s offices, inmate box portals, and state prisons. Benefits include: n Reduced inmate transports to court hearings. n Reduced liability due to vehicular accidents, inmate assaults and medical costs. n Reduced contraband in prisons. n Reduced escape potential; increased public safety.
Other AACRMF benefits Guardian Inmate tracking system n 20x faster and more defensible than barcode. n Exclusively endorsed by the National Sheriffs’ Association since 2008, the first product in the world to earn this distinction. n The only Inmate Management System in the world that exclusively leverages radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. n GUARDIAN RFID® Mobile™ is the most widely used mobile app in corrections, actively deployed in 25 states.
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NEWS FROM NACo
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.
The hidden costs of not staying current Story by Mike Mucha Deputy executive director, Government Finance Officers Association
ell-run governments promote financial transparency, accountability and decisionmaking that’s based on good data. Finance staff are often in charge of supplying that data in a timely manner — whether it is for the budget process, program analysis, budget control or satisfying routine requests for information. If you could take a look behind the scenes, you’d see the extraordinary efforts that go into processing, tracking, managing, manipulating and ultimately reporting that information. More and more governments are now completing these tasks using tools offered by modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, yet many still rely on antiquated software technology from 15, 20 or even 25 years ago. Meeting modern public-sector needs with decades-old technology isn’t easy. Systems must be flexible and able to handle an increasing amount of work so they can respond to changes in accounting rules, expectations for service delivery and the sophisticated operations that most governments run. Managers, executives, elected officials and even the public also expects data to be readily available and usable. Overcoming outdated technology’s substandard functionality and shortcomings requires government staff to maintain and support a patchwork of old databases, legacy code and hundreds or even thousands of Excel spreadsheets, held together by the technological equivalent of tooth picks and duct tape. Today, in a world where cell phones are discarded after two years and the computing power in everyday devices can outperform just about anything available a decade ago, it is remarkable that many organizations still rely on “green-screen technology” from the early 1990s to process payroll, manage their budgets and perform the thousands of other routine transactions that power local government. Even organizations with up-to-date maintenance and support for their ERP systems wrestle with the challenges of time. For example, many governments stick with the original scope of the implementation of their system, seldom activating or COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2019
implementing new functionality. Similarly, some governments struggle with decisions that were made during the initial implementation or with being trapped by sub-optimum configuration decisions that restricted the full use of the system. Just as a 20-year-old car that has been maintained to the manufacturer’s recommendation is not the same as a new car, a 20-year-old system with all the regular maintenance packs and upgrades is not the same as a new system. A modern, well-run organization requires a modern ERP system to provide a solid foundation for integrated functions, efficient processing of transactions, improved service levels, automated business processes, strong internal controls and the use of data across the organization. Implementing such a system is a large undertaking that requires commitment and effort from across the entire organization. While the most visible outcome is a new system, no ERP system implementation is primarily about the software. It’s about the policies and business process that the system supports. Over the past 20 years, GFOA has been involved in more than 500 ERP readiness and implementation projects, and we have seen both the good and bad. A simple Internet search on “ERP implementation failures” will provide more than enough examples to clearly demonstrate the challenges involved in these projects, but they don’t all end with delays, cost overruns, missing scope, unmet needs, burntout employees or lawsuits. The fact is that many organizations have been extremely successful in using the ERP projects as an opportunity to transform their organizations, adopt best practices, improve efficiency, provide more effective services, and better promote financial management outcomes. When correctly managed with effective service-level agreements, deploying an ERP system in the “cloud” can decrease ongoing costs, reduce the technical staffing effort, and mitigate technical and security risks. Officials who are supporting or overseeing an ERP projSee
NEWS FROM NACo Continued From Page 49
ect need to understand that modernizing an ERP system is a significant investment in the organization’s financial management infrastructure. The benefits you’ll receive from the project are directly related to the work that goes into it. To be successful, focus on best practices in change management, process improvement, project management and organizational governance. Based on our experience with ERP systems, GFOA has also identified a few critical lessons:
new ideas, to challenge the status quo, and to engage in discussion and debate about future policies and business process. • Hold the vendor accountable. Vendors that sell the benefits of an ERP system need to be held accountable for delivering their products and services. This includes milestonebased pricing, a warranty on the project requirements, clear criteria for system and deliverable acceptance, and servicelevel agreements.
• Analyze business processes and define requirements. All projects should start out with clearly defined goals and requirements that are based on the individual government’s processes, well understood by both the government and the vendor, and continuously tracked throughout the project. It’s also critical that requirements, processes, and decisions are documented. The project team should be held responsible for demonstrating that all requirements and project goals have been completed. • Ensure proper staffing. Vendors that claim to have uncovered the secrets to an “easy” ERP project are selling a fantasy. All ERP projects should clearly identify sufficient staffing levels, and organizations must be prepared to commit staff and potentially back-fill existing positions. • Ask difficult questions. To avoid repeating bad processes in a new system, organizations must be prepared to bring in
Old technology likely to produce poor results A government that operates an old, outdated technology is probably experiencing some or all of the following inefficiencies behind the scenes, as staff works to satisfy the information needs of department heads, executives, elected officials and the public:
Ad v e r t i s e r
• Redundant entry of data and duplication of effort • Unnecessary paper-based processes that require significant manual intervention • Excessive use of shadow systems to track critical data • Significant time spent reconciling errors • Inconsistent application of policies and controls • Inconsistent, fragmented, or incomplete data • A high number of interfaces or customizations, and • Outdated processes that fail to take advantage of new standards and expectations.
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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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