County Government - Polk County Arkansas
 

Information about Polk County, Arkansas is compliments of
Vision Realty in Mena, Arkansas

Quorum Court County Judge Circuit Clerk County Clerk
Sheriff Tax Assessor Tax Collector Treasurer
Surveyor Coroner Circuit Judge District Judge
Arkansas is divided into 75 counties, each operating as a separate local government.  In each county, local officials are elected by the people to perform administrative duties and provided needed services for the area's population.  These elected officials share responsibility for the executive, legislative and judicial functions of county government.

There are nine elected executive officers to include:  County Judge, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, Treasurer, Coroner, Surveyor, Sheriff.  (Not all of these are full-time positions.  Some may be combined, as are the offices of Sheriff and Tax Collector, as well as the two clerks, in some counties.  Some counties do not have a coroner or surveyor.

The County Government is headed by elected officials with the County Judge at its head. 

All County officials are elected annually for a two year term, must be registered voters, and must reside inside the boundaries of Polk County, Arkansas.

Quorum Court

In addition to the eleven elected executive officers, each county elects Justices of the Peace (JPs).  Every county in Arkansas including Polk County, Arkansas is divided into districts based on population.  Each district is allowed to elect one JP.  The JP's are elected for two year terms, coinciding with those of other elected officers.  They must live in the district they are elected to serve.  There are eleven JP districts in Polk County, Arkansas.

The justices of the peace form the County Quorum Court, the legislative body of the county.  The JPs assemble as the Quorum Court on the first Monday after term of office begins and meet at least once a month at a regular time and place thereafter.

In recent years, the Quorum Court has undergone dramatic changes, dictated by Amendment 55 to the State Constitution.  Amendment 55 was enacted by a vote of the people in 1974 and implemented in 1977.  Amendment 55 reduced to Quorum Court to a more workable size (9 to 15 members) and gave it more power in the county government.

Amendment 55 outlines specific functions of the Quorum Court, although the legislative body is not limited to these functions.  The following authorities are given:

  • The Quorum Court may execute local legislative authority not denied by the constitution or law.  This function is sometimes referred to as the "home rule power".
  • The Quorum Court can adopt ordinances necessary for the operation of county government.
  • It can pass any law not in conflict with state law.
  • It can provide, by ordinance, for the performance of additional duties by any county officer or employee.

Amendment 55 limits the Quorum Court as follows:

  • The Quorum Court specifically may not declare any act a felony (serious crime).  Felonies are covered by the State Criminal Code.
  • The Quorum Court is limited in its taxing authority by state law.
  • It may exercise only that authority related to county affairs.

Under Amendment 55, the Quorum Court also performs the following duties:

  • Fixes compensation of the county surveyor, within the limits set by the state legislature.
  • Fixes the annual salaries of county judge, sheriff, county tax collector, county and probate clerk, circuit clerk, ex officio recorder, county assessor, county treasurer and coroner, within the limits set by state law.
  • Establishes the per diem to be received by Quorum Court members as compensation for attendance at each meeting of the Quorum Court, as provided by state law.

The county legislative body can create programs for county government by passing ordinances and appropriating funds for them.  However, the Quorum Court cannot exercise any power over city or state affairs, although it can enter into compacts with other entities of government.

Even though all actions of the Quorum Court are subject to veto by the county judge, the Quorum Court may override the veto by three-fifths of all elected justices.  Thus a system of checks and balances is established.

A majority of the elected JPs is required to conduct business and pass an ordinance.  Either the county judge or a majority of elected justices can call a special meeting.  In absence of the judge, a majority of the justices will elect one of their number to preside over the meeting, but the justice does not have the veto power.

JPs like county judges, also may perform marriages. 

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Duties of the County Judge

The chief executive officer is the county judge.  The judge is business manager, administrator and road commissioner.  This is the most visible officer to the public and the one who the public holds most accountable for the course of county business.

Perhaps the most important duty of the county judge is building and maintaining roads.  In another major function, the county judge holds the purse strings.  The judge handles income and expenditures for the county and serves as administrator for all federal and state funds.

In addition, the county judge presides over the county's legislative body - the Quorum Court.  This executive officer has veto power over the Quorum Court's actions.  The county judge also presides over the public hearings for petitions of cities to annex land and other matters.

The duties of the judge are far reaching.  This person can be compared to the governor of the state in the role of chief executive of the county.  The title "judge" is actually misleading.  The county judge, though chiefly an executive, retains quasi judicial functions.  As judge of the County Court, this officer has jurisdiction over matters relating to county taxes, roads, bridges, ferries, as well as disbursement of money for county purposes and "in every other case that may be necessary to the internal improvements and local concerns of the respective counties," under the state constitution.

The county judge has exclusive power in these matters.  The most important of the authorities as County Court are over roads and the spending of money. 

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Duties of the Circuit Clerk

The Circuit Clerk keeps records of civil, criminal and juvenile divisions of the Circuit Court and records deeds, mortgages, and powers of attorney.

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Duties of the County Clerk

The county clerk is the official bookkeeper of county records.  The clerk prepares tax books, serves as the official voter registrar, handles absentee voting, provides birth and death records for the Bureau of Vital Statistics and records the incorporation of licenses allowing certain activities outside the city limits.  This office, furthermore, serves as clerk of the Quorum, County, and Probate Courts and the Board of Equalization and County Election Commission.

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Duties of the Tax Assessor

The Tax Assessor's duty is to assess real estate and personal property taxes based on the tax rate and valuation

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Duties of the Tax Collector

The County Tax Collector collects municipal, county, school and improvement district taxes and gives them to the county treasurer, prepares delinquent tax lists and conducts delinquent tax sales.  The collector also notifies taxpayers of taxes due.  In Polk County the Sheriff is also the Tax Collector.

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Duties of the Sheriff

The Sheriff is the principal peace officer of the county.  The sheriff makes arrests for violation of laws and serves notices, subpoenas and warrants.  This officer is in charge of the county jail and its prisoners and serves as bailiff of The Circuit Court.

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Duties of the Treasurer

The Treasurer is responsible for the custody and disbursement of all funds collected by the county, including school district and improvement district funds.

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Duties of the Surveyor

The County Surveyor is a part-time position.  The county surveyor locates property boundaries at the request of the assessor and settles boundary disputes if they are taken to court.

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Duties of the County Coroner

The County Coroner signs death certificates if no doctor is present, as well as holding inquests to establish cause of deaths that have occurred by other than natural causes.  The coroner is a part-time position. 

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Duties of the Circuit Judge

The Circuit Court (formerly Circuit, Chancery, Circuit/Chancery, Probate and Juvenile Court) is the highest level in the state's court system that involves county government (court of general jurisdiction).  This is a court of law with jurisdiction over civil, criminal, and juvenile cases, a court of equity, with jurisdiction over cases involving domestic relations matters, land disputes,  support actions, and other cases where equitable relief is sought.  This court also hears cases involving wills, guardianships, adoptions, mental commitments, and other probate matters, thereby serving as probate judge.

The Circuit Judge is non-partisan and is elected by popular vote of the judicial circuit into which the state is divided.

The county furnishes clerks of trial courts that perform duties such as filing and maintaining legal documents pertaining to cases, preparing and maintaining docket books, issuing notices and writs and filing reports with state Judicial Departments.  These duties are in addition to their other duties related to county government.

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Duties of the District Judge

The court of limited jurisdiction is the District Court (formerly Municipal Court, Corporation Court, Police Court, JP Court, and Court of Common Pleas). This provides a vital role in maintaining peace and order in communities and in providing safety on streets and highways.  The District Court hears the bulk of all misdemeanor, traffic violations, ordinance violations, and small claims cases.

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