Counties in Arkansas
Types of local government
Arkansas' local governments fall into the following categories:
- Counties: there are 75 counties in Arkansas.
- Municipalities: there are 501 municipalities in Arkansas. They are generally classified by increasing population as "incorporated towns," "cities of the second class," and "cities of the first class." In certain circumstances, cities may raise their classification by one level through a referendum vote (in the case of towns) or a local ordinance (in the case of second class cities). State statutes provide for municipal charters, but no cities have yet adopted one.
- In addition, there are 727 special districts and 239 independent school districts.
Each of the 75 counties has a county judge, who serves as the chief executive officer of the county. Counties have several other countywide officeholders, including a quorum court (legislative body) that is made up of justices of the peace elected from single-member districts.
Services that Arkansas counties are required to provide are:
- The administration of justice through the courts.
- Law enforcement and operation of the county's jail.
- Real and personal property tax administration, including assessments, collection and custody of tax proceeds.
- Court and public records management.
- Required services as prescribed by state law provided through the various elected county officers or departments of county government such as providing and managing a county road system, elections and financial management.
Each county elects nine executive officers and a countywide legislative body called the quorum court.
The nine elected officials are:
- County judge
- County sheriff
- County clerk
- Circuit clerk
- County collector
- County assessor
- County treasurer
- County coroner
- County surveyor (not all counties do elect a surveyor)
Some offices can be combined into one. County clerk/circuit clerk, sheriff/collector and treasurer/collector are some common combinations.
The legislative body of each county is called a quorum court. It is composed of nine, 11, 13 or 15 members, depending on the county's population, who are referred to as justices of the peace and are elected by district.
The quorum court has these duties:
- Levy of taxes in manner prescribed by law.
- Appropriate public funds for the expenses of the county in a manner prescribed by ordinance.
- Preserve the peace and order and secure freedom from dangerous or noxious activities; provided, however, that no act may be declared a felony.
- For any public purpose, contract, or join with another county, or with any political subdivision or with the United States.
- Create, consolidate, separate, revise, or abandon any elected office or offices except during the term thereof; provided, however, that a majority of those voting on the question at a general election have approved said action.
- Fix the number and compensation of deputies and county employees.
- Fix the compensation of each county officer with a minimum and maximum to be determined by law.
- Fill vacancies in elected county offices.
- Provide for any service or performance of any function relating to county affairs.
- Exercise other powers, not inconsistent with law, necessary for effective administration of authorized services and functions.
Initiative process availability
All of Arkansas' 75 counties have an initiative process for ordinances.
County website evaluations
- See also: Evaluation of Arkansas county websites
As of 2009:
- Only one of the 75 counties posts budget information online, (Benton.)
- Six counties include information on their websites about public government meetings.
- 24 include information about the county's elected officials.
- 14 include information about the county's administrative officials.
- 2 counties give information about permits and zoning in the county.
- None of the counties publish information online about audits that the county government has had performed.
- No counties give information about contracts with county vendors.
- No county websites disclose whether the county belongs to any government sector lobbying associations.
- No counties provide information on how to request public records using the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
- Six county websites provide some information about county taxes.
Counties without websites
As of January 2009, 49 of Arkansas's 75 counties had no website.
List of counties
- Arkansas Association of Counties
- Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture
- County employee salaries
- Association of Arkansas Counties, "Counties," accessed September 5, 2013
- Arkansas Municipal League, "Guidebook for Municipal Officials of Mayor/Council Cities," Revised May 2007
- The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- Manual describing the responsibilities of Arkansas county government (dead link)
- Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, Section 1
- Arkansas Code, § 14-42-304