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County Law Update

Authority of County Library Administrative Board: Making the day-to-day decisions... If the county Quorum Court has chosen

to create a county Library Administrative Board, then the day-to-day affairs of county library operations (e.g., the hiring and firing of employees) is the prerogative of the library administrative board, subject to “county” review only to determine whether the board has exercised its prerogative in a manner that violates the constitution or a law.

County Library Administrative Board:

“[A] county quorum court may by ordinance establish a county library board to conduct the affairs of the county public library or its library services or system in accordance with the law for establishing other county ... administrative boards found at § 14-14-705.” Ark. Code Ann. 13 2 401(d). “An administrative board may be assigned responsibility for a county depart- ment ... .” A.C.A. 14-14-705(2)(B).” A county administrative board may be established “to ex- ercise powers granted by county ordinance, ex- cept ... not ... to pledge the credit of the county.” A.C.A. 14-14-705(2)(A).

“[A county] admin-

istrative board ... shall be ... an agency of the county government and occupy the same status as a county.” A.C.A. 14- 14-705 (2)(A).

Authority of County to Review County Library Administrative Board’s Decisions: Te County Grievance Com- mittee (CGC) hearing process enables “the County” an opportunity to hear both sides of the story (from both the employee and the supervising board) and thereafter de- clare whether or not the board’s decision is either illegal or unconstitutional. It is not the purpose of the CGC hearing pro- cess to permit the CGC to substitute its discretion/prerogative for the discretion/ prerogative of a supervising official or a supervising board. To do so would violate the doctrine of separation of powers.


effect, the CGC can only vote “yes” (the supervising board violated the county’s employment policy) or “no” (the super- vising board did not violate the county’s employment policy. When the CGC says “yes, but ...” and starts telling the super-


Attorney Mike Rainwater is always a favorite among the speakers at the biennial AAC New-Elect Seminar. He’s pictured here on the Dec. 10 event. He has more than a quarter-century of experience in matters of county law.

vising board how to manage the situation or its employee, the CGC has overstepped its bounds and violated the separation of powers doctrine. [Note:

U.S.D.C #98-1110, U.S. District

In Edwards v. Columbia County, Judge Harry

Barnes (by his Order dated 02/11/00) ruled that the County Grievance Committee (and, there- fore, “the County”) acquiesced in an elected official’s unconstitutional decision (and was therefore liable for the damage caused by that unconstitutional decision) by the fact that the CGC (which was the County Quorum Court sitting as the CGC) did NOT ask a judicial court to enforce the CGC’s decision (made after hearing both sides of the story) that an elected official’s employment termination decision was unconstitutional (and therefore in violation of the county’s employment policy).]

County Library Law: Ark. Code Ann. 13- 2-401, entitled “County Libraries: Establish- ment; Maintenance; Operation,” states:


Te county Quorum Courts of the several counties shall have the power and authority to establish, maintain, and operate county public libraries or public library services or systems in the manner and with the functions prescribed

in this subchapter, and counties may appro- priate money for these purposes. (b) Te county Quorum Court shall also have the power to establish in cooperation with another county or other counties a joint public library or a joint library service or system for the benefit of the cooperating counties. (c) (1) Establishment of county libraries or library systems shall be evidenced by an ordinance of the county Quorum Court or by an agreement between the governing bodies of the several counties participating in a regional library sys- tem or coordinating library services under an interlocal agreement.

Mike Rainwater Risk Management Legal Counsel

(2) Appropriations for

the establishment and maintenance of a county library or library system shall be in the manner prescribed by law for expenditures by counties. (d)(1) In addition to county library boards cre- ated under this section, §§ 13-2-402, and 13-2- 404, a county quorum court may by ordinance establish a county library board to conduct the affairs of the county public library or its library services or system in accordance with the law for establishing other county advisory or adminis- trative boards found at § 14-14-705.” Ark. Code Ann. 13-2-402, entitled “County Libraries: County Librarian,” states: “(a) No person shall be appointed to the of- fice of county librarian unless prior to appointment the person is recommended for appointment by the county library board, if the board has been created. (b) Te county librarian shall conduct the library according to the most accept- able library methods.”

(Mike Rainwater, a regular contributor to County Lines and lead attorney for AAC Risk Management, is principal shareholder of Rainwater, Holt, and Sexton, P.A., a state-wide personal injury and disability law firm. Mr. Rainwater has been a lawyer for over 30 years, is a former deputy pros- ecuting attorney, and has defended city and county officials for over 25 years)


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