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Quorum court consent not required for judges to enter into contracts

only if the funds for such contracts have been previously appropri- ated by the quorum court. ACA 14-14-1102(b)(2)(C)(ii)


Constitution Provides Contracting Power: Te county judge is authorized by law to enter into contracts on behalf of the county, and the quorum court’s consent to such contracts is not required (Amendment 55, § 3 of the Arkansas Constitution) ... the county judge can enter into such contracts only for which the funds have been previously appropriated by the quorum court. “Te county judge shall have the authority to enter into necessary contracts or other agreements to obligate county funds and to approve expen- diture of county funds appropriated therefor in the manner pro- vided by law.” ACA 14-14-1102(b)(2)(C)(ii) (emphasis added). “Te county judge, as the chief executive officer of the county, shall be responsible for the employment of the necessary personnel or for the purchase of labor or services performed by individuals or firms employed by the county, or an agency thereof, for salaries, wages, or other forms of compensation.” ACA 14-14-1102(b)(5) (A). See AG Op. No. 2003-012.

Arkansas General Assembly Provides Contracting Proce-

dures: Te county judge must comply with all applicable laws governing the procedures for entering into the type of contract in question. Contractual procedures for professional services and for general contracting services differ. Te county judge may not solicit bids for professional services. See ACA 19-11-801 et seq. County bidding procedures for other contracts are set forth in ACA 14-22-101 et seq.

Quorum Court Provides Funding for the Contract: Te county judge’s power to obligate the county is limited by the pow- er of the quorum court to appropriate county funds. Tat limita- tion is reflected in ACA 14-14-1102(b)(2)(C)(ii), quoted above. Te limitation is stated more explicitly elsewhere. “No money shall be paid out of the treasury until it shall have been appropriated by law and then only in accordance with the appropriation; and all contracts for erecting and repairing the public buildings in any county or for materials therefor, or for providing for the care and feeding of paupers where there are no public or private facilities or services available for such purpose, shall be given to the lowest

he county judge is authorized by law to enter into contracts on behalf of the county, and the quorum court’s consent to such contracts is not required. Te county judge can, however, enter into such contracts

County Law Update

possible bidder under such regulations as may be prescribed by law.” ACA 14- 14-1102(b)(2)(C)(i). No county court or agent of any county shall make any contract on behalf of the county un- less an appropriation has been previ- ously made therefor and is wholly or in part unexpended. In no event shall any county court or agent of any coun- ty make any contract in excess of any appropriation made, and the amount of the contract shall be limited to the amount of the appropriation made by the county quorum court. ACA 14- 20-106. Since the quorum court must appropriate funds for coun- ty contracts before the county judge can enter into contracts ob- ligating the county, it follows that if the county judge has entered into a contract for which funds have not yet been appropriated, a violation of the law has occurred, and the quorum court is under no legal obligation to appropriate the funds for such a contract (although the quorum court may choose to appropriate funds for a contract already entered into by the county judge, thus ratifying the judge’s action). Te quorum court has the exclusive authority to appropriate county funds. ACA 14-14-904(b). It would con- stitute a violation of the principle of separation of powers if the county judge were permitted to obligate the quorum court to ap- propriate funds. See ACA 14-14-502. See AG Op. No. 2003-012.

Mike Rainwater Risk Management Legal Counsel

County Judge Chooses the Vendor: Te quorum court can-

not designate specific vendors to be awarded county contracts. Be- cause, as noted previously, the county judge has been granted the authority and responsibility for entering into contracts on behalf of the county (See Ark. Const., Am. 55, § 3; A.C.A. § 14-14- 1102), it would constitute a violation of the principle of separation of powers for the quorum court to dictate to the county judge the details of how this authority and responsibility is to be car- ried out. ACA 14-14-502. Although the quorum court’s appro- priation must be as specific as possible (See ACA 14-20-103; AG Op. No. 2000-064), it would go beyond the scope of the quorum court’s authority for a quorum court to dictate the specific parties with whom a county judge may enter into contracts on behalf of the county. Te judge’s authority, of course, will be subject to the limitations of the statutorily required procedures that govern such contracts. See AG Op. No. 2003-012. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015 17

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