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County Lines Magazine

County Lines is the official publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties. It is published quarterly. For advertising inqui- ries, subscriptions or other information re- lating to the magazine, please contact Scott Perkins at 501.372.7550.

Executive Director / Executive Editor Chris Villines

Managing Editor Scott Perkins

AAC Executive Board: Mike Jacobs – President

Roger Haney – Vice President

Judy Beth Hutcherson – Secretary-Treasurer Sherry Bell Sue Liles

Rhonda Wharton John Montgomery Faron Ledbetter David Thompson Will Jones

Debra Buckner Jim Crawford Jimmy Hart

Patrick Moore Joe Gillenwater Marty Moss Debbie Wise

National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Affiliations

Alvin Black: Public Lands Steering Committee. He is the Montgomery County Judge.

Roger Haney: Board of Directors. He is the Wash- ington County Treasurer and is also on the Telecom- munications & Technology Steering Committee.

Ted Harden: Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. He serves on the Jefferson County Quorum Court.

Haze Hudson: Transportation Steering Committee. He serves on the Miller 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.

Mike Jacobs: NACo Board of Directors, the Mem- bership Committee and the Agricultural & Rural Affairs Steering Committee. He is the Johnson County Judge.


Session summary, next horizon for AAC

have here at the AAC it was your typical scrum of a session, with disagreements, gnashing of teeth and flailing of fists.


But do not be mistaken, these sessions are always like this. Much like anything else in life, once an object comes into close focus the imperfections are vis- ible. Mark Twain once said: “Distance lends enchant- ment to the view.”

Chris Villines AAC

Executive Director Looking back at the 89th, I am pleasantly surprised with the success county

government had. Tere are largely two aspects of any given session that affect our counties. Tese two aspects are administration as defined by code and financial.

From an administrative standpoint there were a few notable changes. County

clerks will see several new election laws including voter identification require- ments. County judges and sheriffs will benefit from annexation changes that will serve to strengthen county authority and ease jurisdictional confusion.

County clerks, circuit clerks, treasurers and collectors will see a long overdue

increase in continuing education funding, and our coroners were the beneficiaries of the first continuing education funding for their group. Collectors will be able to save taxpayer dollars by e-mailing bills instead of using the post office.

Assessors will now be reassessing producing minerals annually — a move which will make value more accurate. Quorum courts gained the ability to have their procedural meeting at the first regularly scheduled meeting in January instead of the first five days.

From a financial standpoint the 89th General Assembly had all the trap- pings of thin ice for our counties when it began. With Medicaid expansion, lingering economic woes, tax cuts and increased expenses on the horizon it was logical to think that counties could see significant losses in funding. After all, in the good years county funding has been stagnant for sometime now — despite state revenue increases.

But when the dust settled we saw several programs which should help stabilize

or increase our funding this biennium. First of all, our general turnback saw a shift of $2 million from the declining property tax relief fund to general funding, albeit in category “B.” Tis category will be funded should the state exceed projected revenues, which is likely at this point.

Our 9-1-1 centers have been woefully underfunded largely due to a 65 cent per

wireless line monthly fee which compares very unfavorably to the national average which is closer to the $1 mark. While we did not seek an increase in wireless 9-1-1 fees, we did work closely with Senate leadership and phone companies to get an additional $2 million per year for counties to help with 9-1-1 expenses across the state. Te first checks will be arriving next April from the Department of Emer- gency Management.

>>> 7

n May 17, the 89th General Assembly wrapped up and is now visible only with a glance in the rearview mirror. From the up-close vantage point we

Director’s Desk

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