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AAC


• § 14-23-202 declares it a misdemeanor, subject to re- moval from office, for any county official to violate the rules with respect to the handling of claims presented to the county;


• § 14-23-106(b) clearly declares it a misdemeanor, sub- ject to a fine and removal from office, for a county court, a county judge or a county clerk to willfully violate or neglect to perform his or her duties concerning the han- dling of claims against the county and specifically for- bids paying any claimant more than he is due; and


• § 14-14-1202(d)(3) declares it a misdemeanor, subject to a fine and removal from office, for any county official to violate the ethical rules of conduct.


Also, misconduct with respect to an official’s budget could


very well amount to nonfeasance or malfeasance in office. Te failure to perform the duties of one’s office [which include the administration of a budget] could amount to nonfeasance, if based purely upon negligence … or to malfeasance, if the fail- ure is based upon some intentional motivation. Of course, re- moval from office is under the jurisdiction of the circuit court in accordance with Arkansas Constitution, Article 7, § 27. In summary, under the classic division of powers, the legis-


SEEMS TO ME ...


lative branch makes the laws and appropriates public funds, and the executive branch administers the laws and expends the appropriations. But it is the job of the quorum court to be the watchdog of public funds. Te quorum court has the authority and duty to appropriate county funds, and the statu- tory authority to “adopt, amend, or repeal an appropriation ordinance” [§ 14-14-907(b)]. Remember the Old Testament story of Job? Job said, “Te


Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.” Arkansas law is writ- ten in such a manner that the quorum court can give and take away. Sometimes it is necessary, either because of a short- fall in revenues or because a county official does not control their spending. A county official has the legal authority only to spend the amount appropriated by the court for his or her operation — no more. Te quorum court has a responsibility to make a reasonable


appropriation, and then the county official has the responsibil- ity to stay within that appropriation — so ruled the courts. Dave Ramsey, America’s trusted voice on money, said, “A


budget is telling your money where to go instead of wonder- ing where it went.” Te county budget is not a “play pretty” it is a “real tool” and should be used as such. No county of- ficial wants to hear “the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off due to budget cuts.”


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