County and Local Government

Quorum courts aren’t really courts, and justices of the peace have nothing to do with the justice system. County judges aren’t really judges, except sometimes they do decide tax disputes. Welcome to county government in Arkansas.

The system set up to run counties in the 19th century – its history going back to England in the 16th century – is still running them today. Its old-fashioned terms confound many a new Arkansas resident.

County judges are more like chief executive officers. They run much of the day-to-day county administration. However, county judges periodically preside over county court, which can decide disputes over property taxes.

A quorum court is a law-making body, holding the purse strings. Justices of the peace are just county district representatives, members of the quorum court. But as the title suggests, they also can be called upon to marry you and your sweetie, if you are so inclined.

The organization is similar to state government, with the governor and Legislature, or federal government, with the president and Congress. The county judge is the executive branch, and the quorum court is the legislative branch.

Like state government, at least in Arkansas, counties have a string of elected officers in charge of different aspects of county government. They include the sheriff, whose title obviously reflects his dominion over law enforcement; the assessor, whose office sets the value of property for tax purposes; the tax collector, who collects the taxes based on those assessments; the treasurer, who keeps up with the money; the county clerk, who maintains county records, including those for voting and elections; and the circuit clerk, who maintains court records.  -Story contributed by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, used by permission.

Benton County website
City of Bentonville website
City of Bella Vista
Bella Vista POA

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