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AAC


FEATURE


— Photo ocourtesy of Can Stock Photo A Broken System


Counties have substantially shouldered the costs associated with state deputy prosecutors and public defenders.


ByDorothy Spector, Dylan Lofton AAC Law Clerks


s a government system, we expect our state stat- utes to be upheld as our governing rules of law. For 20 years now, the counties have substantially shouldered the cost of state deputy prosecuting attorney salaries and total costs for their office operations. County government has also had to substantially fund public defender operations during this time period, even though Act 1341 of 1997 and Act 1044 of 1999 promised a “transi- tion to state-funded” public defender and deputy prosecuting attorney systems. Tis should not be a county government responsibility under the law.


A Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys


Rather, under Act 1044 of 1999, it is a clearly stated re- sponsibility of the state of Arkansas to pay for the salaries of deputy prosecuting attorneys. However, counties continue to shoulder much of this burden. Act 1044 states that in every monthly distribution of general revenues to the counties, the state shall retain “one-twelfth (1/12th) of 80 percent” of the amount that was appropriated by the counties for salaries and other benefits ascertained as the base amount in 1999.


32


Every year since Act 1044 was passed, the state has continued to withhold this 1/12th of 80 percent from the county’s net reduction turnback. Tis equates to $5,459,621.28 being deducted from the counties on an annual basis, according to a chart created by AAC Consultant Eddie A. Jones and found on the AAC website at https://bit.ly/2VRdXUu. Arkanas Legislative Audit also outlines some of these spending issues in a report found online at https://www.arklegaudit.gov/pdf. aspx?id=SPSA01315. Te state is actually using this with- held money, appropriated to counties, in order to pay the state deputy prosecuting attorneys instead of using its own state funds. Prior to 1999, deputy prosecuting attorneys were classified as county employees, but they became state em- ployees with the enactment of Act 1044. Since these deputy prosecuting attorneys classify as state employees, the state of Arkansas should be responsible for their salaries as well. Tis general turnback the state retains is allocated to the


State Central Services Fund in order to help pay for the “regular salaries and personal services” of deputy prosecuting attorneys. Terefore, funds are transferred from the County Aid Fund to the Auditor of State for payment of deputy


COUNTY LINES, FALL 2020


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