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Van Buren County does not have an Economic Development Officer. Economic Development falls under the County Judge.
The chief executive officer for county government in Arkansas is the county judge. As chief executive, the judge authorizes and approves the disbursement of all appropriated county funds, operates the system of county roads, administers ordinances enacted by the quorum court, has custody of county property, accepts grants from federal, state, public and private sources, hires county employees except those persons employed by other elected officials of the county, and presides over the quorum court without a vote, but with the power of veto (ACA 14-14-1101 – 1102). All powers not vested in the county judge as the chief executive officer of the county shall continue to be exercised and administered by the county court, over which the county judge shall preside. The county court, in fact, is the county judge sitting in a judicial role. The county court of each county has exclusive original jurisdiction in all matters relating to: 1. County Taxes: Including real and personal ad valorem taxes collected by county government. The county court’s authority in this area includes jurisdiction over the assessment of property, equalization of assessments on appeal, tax levies, tax collections, and the distribution of tax proceeds. 2. Paupers: The court’s jurisdiction includes all county administrative actions affecting the conduct of human services programs serving indigent residents of the county where such services are financed in total or in part by county funds. 3. Jurisdiction in each other case that may be necessary to the internal improvement and local concerns of the respective counties including county financial activities and works of general public utility or advantage designed to promote intercommunication, trade and commerce, transportation of persons and property, or the development of natural resources, which are not otherwise transferred to the county judges to be administered in an executive capacity. 4. The county court shall have all other jurisdiction now vested by law in the county court except with respect to those powers formerly vested in the county court under the provisions of Section 28 of Article 7 of the Constitution which were transferred to the county judge under the provisions of Section 3 of Amendment 55 to the Arkansas Constitution, (and those powers removed by Amendment 67 as they pertain to the apprenticeship of minors. (ACA 14-14-1105) In addition to the duties of the county court, the county judge is responsible for coordinating the day-to-day intergovernmental relations between the various state and federal agencies operating at the county level. The judge must also apply for all federal and state assistance moneys for which the county is eligible and appoint the members to all administrative and advisory boards in the county, some of which have to be confirmed by the quorum court.
The county sheriff is the sheriff of the courts, maintains public peace, and has custody of the county jail. As chief enforcement officer of the circuit courts, the sheriff’s office, which includes the sheriff and deputies, is charged by constitutional and statutory laws with the execution of summons, enforcement of judgments, orders, injunctions, garnishments, attachments, and the making of arrests on warrants issued by the courts. The sheriff also opens and attends each term of circuit court, notifies residents selected to jury duty and assists in handling witnesses and prisoners during a given court term. The sheriff, or a member of that staff, often prepares and assembles evidence of the Prosecuting Attorney’s case against defendants charged with both felonies and misdemeanors. The sheriff also transports convicted prisoners and others declared by the court to the various penal and mental institutions of the state. 5 The sheriff in every county has the custody, rule, and charge of the county jail and all prisoners committed in his county (ACA 12-41-502). The sheriff shall be conservator of the peace in his county (ACA 14-15-501). It shall be the duty of each sheriff to quell and suppress all assaults and batteries, affrays, insurrections, and unlawful assemblies; and he shall apprehend and commit to jail all felons and other offenders (ACA 14-14-1301). The sheriff also works with the various local municipal law enforcement officials or other state and federal officials charged with law enforcement.
The county clerk is the official bookkeeper of county government and serves as the clerk for the county, quorum and probate courts. As clerk of the county court, the clerk has the duty of keeping a regular account between the treasurer and the county. The clerk charges the treasurer with all moneys received and credits the treasurer with all moneys dispersed. In addition, the clerk keeps an accurate account of all financial transactions within the county and files all documents, vouchers, and other papers pertaining to the settlement of any account to which the county is involved. It is the responsibility of the county clerk to prepare all checks on the treasury for moneys ordered to be paid by the county court and to keep complete and accurate records of all these financial transactions ready for the court’s inspection at any time (ACA 16-20-402). [An alternate method of the county treasurer issuing checks, allowed by ACA 14-24-204, is used by many counties]. The county clerk shall serve, unless otherwise designated by county ordinance, as the secretariat of the quorum court. These duties involve keeping a complete permanent record of the proceedings of the Quorum Court including minutes, ordinances, resolutions, and an index to provide easy access to the information (ACA 14-14-902 and 14-14- 903). As clerk to the probate court, the clerk files all instruments making them a matter of record in decedent estate cases and swears in all witnesses in contested estates. The clerk, also in this capacity, maintains all records relative to adoptions and guardianship cases within the county. The county clerk, or the clerk’s designee, serves as the secretary of the Board of Equalization and records the minutes of their meetings (ACA 26-27-307). Also, if the clerk is the preparer of tax books for the county, the clerk is responsible for extending the taxes in the information provided by the assessor and the Board of Equalization (ACA 26-28-101 through 26-28-108). An electronic reproduction of a tax book, warrant, or receipt kept in accordance with ACA 13–4–301 is sufficient under this section. The clerk became the official voter registrar with the adoption of Amendment 51 to the Arkansas Constitution in 1966. The clerk maintains an accurate and up-to-date voter registration list within the office and stores the ballot. The circuit clerk is also the ex-officio county recorder and is responsible for recording deeds, mortgages, liens, and surety bonds, and many other orders and instruments which involve property within the county (ACA 14-15-401 et seq.) boxes between elections. In addition, the clerk is the custodian of absentee ballots and is responsible for early voting. It is common practice in many counties for the county clerk to assist the county election commission in the overall performance of the election process. With the increasing complexity of elections, however, there is an increasing trend towards the hiring of election coordinators to aid the county election commission and the county clerk in their respective election responsibilities (ACA 7-5-401 et seq.). For example, the county board of election commissioners is responsible for overseeing programming of the election, proofing the ballots, and for conducting logic and accuracy testing on election media (ACA 7-5-515). With the passage of Act 633 of 2017, a voter must now present photo ID when voting. This act amended the Arkansas Constitution, Amendment 51. It also provides that if there is a question as to a voter’s eligibility, their ballot will be considered a provisional ballot until the board of election commissioners decides whether it should be counted. If a vote is not counted, the board must notify the person who cast the vote (ACA 7-5-902). A voter may request a voter verification card, which is a form of photo ID, from the Secretary of State (ACA 7-5-324). The clerk issues marriage licenses (ACA 9-11-201), and keeps a record of all firms in the county which have incorporated (ACA 4-26-1201). The clerk issues special licenses allowing certain activities (ACA 26-76-102).
The circuit clerk is the clerk of the circuit court and juvenile court and usually acts as the ex-officio recorder of the county. Unless otherwise provided by law, the county recorder is the circuit clerk of the county. In a county that under law has assigned the duties of the county recorder to the county clerk, all Code references to circuit clerk that concern recording functions shall mean the county clerk. The administrative duties of the circuit clerk are to maintain a record of all proceedings of the circuit courts to enter docket number and name of the defendant and to prepare the dockets for these courts (ACA 16-20-102). The circuit clerk prepares summons, warrants, orders, judgments, and injunctions authorized by the circuit court for delivery by the county sheriff. The circuit clerk also maintains a file of all cases pending in either court, as well as a record of all past court cases and their disposition (ACA 16-20-303). A clerk may make only an electronic alphabetical index under subsection (a) of this section if he or she is able to electronically scan the judgments, rules, orders, or other proceedings of the court so that the judgments, rules, orders, or other proceedings of the court are accessible on an internet-based computer database searchable by name or case number ACA 16-20-304. The clerk has 20 days before commencement of each of the dockets in all cases. In addition, the circuit clerk acts as a secretary to the jury commission by keeping a list of all prospective jurors (ACA 16-32-101 et seq.). The circuit clerk is also the ex-officio county recorder and is responsible for recording deeds, mortgages, liens, and surety bonds, and many other orders and instruments which involve property within the county (ACA 14-15-401 et seq.). The circuit clerk maintains a record of many miscellaneous items and files certain licenses. The circuit clerk also swears in all notaries public and files regulations of state agencies which license trade or professional workers.
The county collector is the collector of taxes for the county and collects municipal, county, school and improvement district taxes and turns them over to the county treasurer. The collector is responsible for collecting all property taxes from the first day of March to the fifteenth day of October during the calendar year after they are assessed. By statute, the collector is required to turn over all tax revenue to the treasurer at least once a month (ACA 26-39-201). The County Depository Board may require the collector and other county officials to settle with the county treasurer more frequently than once a month (ACA 19-8-106). Taxpayers may pay their taxes in installments, with onefourth of the total being due between March and April, one fourth being due between April and July, and the remaining one-half between July and October 15 (ACA 26-35-501). A taxpayer may pay personal property taxes before the first business day in March if the county collector exercises his or her authorization under this section to open the tax books before the first business day in March. Emergency covid provisions?? Any real or personal property taxes not paid by the fifteenth day of October, and not within one of the exceptions to the requirement that taxes be paid by October 15 of each year (i.e., postmarked prior to October 15 or paid after October 15 if the fifteenth falls on a weekend or holiday), are considered delinquent, and the collector extends a 10% penalty against the taxpayer (ACA 26-36-201). A county collector may open the tax books for payment of taxes before the first business day in March if: (1) the tax books have been delivered and (2) the real and personal property taxes have been certified for collection. Before December 1 of each year, the collector of taxes shall prepare a list of delinquent personal property taxes and deliver a copy of the list to a legal newspaper in the county. Within seven (7) days thereafter, the newspaper shall publish the list. If there is no newspaper in the county or district, the publication shall be in the nearest newspaper having a general circulation in the county or districts for which the list is being published (ACA 26-36-203).
The duty of the county assessor is to appraise and assess all real property between the first Monday of January and July 1, and all personal property between the first Monday in January and the thirty-first of May (ACA 26-26-1408 and 26-26-1101). All property in the state shall be assessed according to its value on the first of January except merchants and manufacturers inventory that is assessed at its average value during the year immediately preceding January 1 (ACA 26-26-1201). The assessor must make an abstract of assessment showing the total assessed value of the county. On August 1, the assessor turns over to the County Equalization Board his/her Real Property Assessment Book and his/her Personal Property Assessment Book. The assessor is required to maintain current appraisal and assessment records by securing necessary filed data and making changes in valuations as they occur in land use and improvements. He/she is also charged with staying abreast of all property transactions within the county and keeping a file on all properties updated throughout the year (ACA 26-26-715).
The county treasurer is the disbursement officer of the county, and is the unofficial or quasi comptroller. A few counties do have a county comptroller. The treasurer is responsible for the custody and disbursement of all county funds and school district funds. The treasurer, therefore, receives county property tax collections, county sales tax collections, county turnback funds, grant funds, fees and fines from other county officials and departments, and revenues from various other sources. The treasurer, after receiving this revenue, distributes the money to the various taxing entities and the other units of the county. The county treasurer signs checks, prepared and signed by the county clerk indicating that the expenditure has been authorized by the county court, to pay employees and creditors of the county. A copy of each check serves as a warrant and is filed in the county financial records. ACA 14- 24-204 provides for an alternate method whereby the county treasurer prepares and issues the check. The treasurer must keep an accurate and detailed account of all receipts and disbursements of the county (ACA 14-15- 807). The treasurer or the county comptroller is required to make a monthly financial report to the quorum court on the fiscal condition of the county (ACA 14-20-105). The county treasurer is required to charge a two percent commission on all funds coming to his/her office. There are a few exceptions. No commission is allowed for the handling of borrowed money, proceeds of school bond sales, the teacher’s salary fund, money collected from insurance on losses, fire protection premium taxes (Act 833 funds for fire departments, but inactive fire departments will not receive funding under this section) and all nonrevenue receipts, which is defined as reimbursement of all or a part of a payment made by a county (ACA 21-6-302, 6- 17-908, 6-20-221 and 14-284-403). Also, the county treasurer is allowed a smaller commission, 1/4 of 1%, on funds from school districts that employ their own treasurer (ACA 6-13-701) and 1/8 of 1% on funds from municipal improvement districts (ACA 14-90-913). The commission is not kept by the treasurer but is intended to create a source of revenue accruing to the office from which the salary and operation of the office is paid. Any excess treasurer’s commission shall be redistributed to the various entities that were charged on a pro-rata basis (AG Opinion #78- 112)
The county coroner is charged with the responsibility of determining the cause of death for those deaths properly the responsibility of the coroner. Although the duties of the county coroner are, necessarily, intermittent, the office is a full-time position. The coroner is tasked with the investigation of deaths occurring within the county 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days per year. At any time, the coroner is required to investigate deaths. When a death is reported to the coroner, he shall conduct an investigation concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual and gather and review background information, including but not limited to, medical information and any other information which may be helpful in determining the cause and manner of death (ACA 14-15-301). These duties are mandated to be completed in very short timeframes.
The legislative body of county government is called the quorum court and is composed of 9, 11, 13 or 15 members, depending on the population of the county. The quorum court members are called justices of the peace and are elected for two-year terms from districts within the county. These district officials meet each month—more often if necessary—to conduct county business and review ordinances and resolutions for passage. The county judge is the presiding officer over the quorum court without a vote, but with the power of veto. This veto can be overridden with a 3/5ths vote of the total membership of the quorum court (See generally ACA 14-14-801 et seq and 14-14-901 et seq.) As provided by Amendment No. 55 to the Arkansas Constitution, a county government acting through its quorum court may exercise local legislative authority not expressly prohibited by the Constitution or by law for the affairs of the county (ACA 14-14-801). Some limitations are: The quorum court cannot declare any act a felony (felonies are covered by the State Criminal Code); quorum courts may not participate in the day-to-day administration of county executive branch offices and may exercise no authority unrelated to county affairs (ACA 14-14-806). The quorum court’s powers include, but are not limited to, the power to: A) Levy taxes in manner prescribed by law; B) appropriate public funds for the expenses of the county in a manner prescribed by ordinance; C) preserve the peace and order and secure freedom from dangerous or noxious activities—provided, however, that no act may be declared a felony; D) for any public purpose, contract, or join with another county, or with any political subdivision or with the United States; E) create, consolidate, separate, revise, or abandon any elected office or offices except during the term thereof; provided, however, that a majority of those voting on the question at a general election have approved said action; F) fix the number and compensation of deputies and county employees; G) fix the compensation of each county officer with a minimum and maximum to be determined by law; H) fill vacancies in elected county offices; I) provide for any service or performance of any function relating to county affairs; J) to exercise other powers, not inconsistent with law, necessary for effective administration of authorized services and functions (ACA 14-14-801)
The county surveyor locates boundaries of specific properties at the request of the assessor and establishes disputed property lines upon request of the county, circuit, or chancery court (ACA 14-15-702). The surveyor is also county timber inspector and determines the amount of timber cut, records the log markings, and prosecutes persons who remove timber from state owned lands (ACA 15-32-201).
A constable is a constitutional township official, not a county official as some might think. A constable is charged, by law, to conserve the peace in his or her township (ACA 16-19-301). In order for a constable to have access to information from the Arkansas Crime Information Center and to carry a firearm, the officer must receive required training. Uniform and vehicle requirements are also mandated for constables in the performance of official duties (ACA 14-14-1314).
In the 2016 November General Election, Arkansans approved Issue 1 with 70.22% voting yes, resulting in the 95th amendment to the Arkansas Constitution. Amendment 95 extended the term limits of county offices from two to four years. Beginning in the 2018 General Election, persons elected to the following positions shall serve four (4) year terms: (1) County Judge; (2) Sheriff; (3) Circuit Clerk; (4) County Clerk; (5) Assessor; (6) Coroner; (7) Treasurer; (8) County Surveyor; and (9) Collector of taxes.” Amendment 95 also amended Article 7 of the Arkansas Constitution to add § 53 precluding county officers from being appointed or elected to any civil office under the state during the term for which he or she had been elected