December 14-16, 2011
NWCA Annual Conference
February 6-9, 2012
County Board Workshop
February 8-10, 2012
Associate and Sustaining Members
NACO Associate and Sustaining Members enable NACO to enhance its continuing education programs for county officials across the state. Visit NACO's complete associate and sustaining membership list here
Education Foundation Memorial Program
A gift to NACO's Education Foundation ensures that the children of county officials and county employees are eligible to apply for scholarships to continue their education at Nebraska's higher learning institutions. Whatever their passion - history, art, music, science, education, sports - the NACO Education Foundation will provide them an opportunity to fund their education beyond the K-12 level. Memorial gifts to NACO's Education Foundation are tax exempt and a lasting legacy in honor of your loved one's commitment to educating the children of Nebraska's county officials and employees. For more information about how to make a memorial gift, please contact Jon Edwards
/ 402-434-5660 ext. 227.
|NACO Executive Director Larry Dix Elected President of the National Council of County Association Executives
Nebraska Association of County Officials' (NACO) Executive Director Larry Dix has been elected president of the National Council of County Association Executives (NCCAE). Dix was sworn into office October 22, 2011 in the City and County of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the council's annual meeting.
The NCCAE represents state associations of counties across the nation. The council aims to improve county government organizations. As president Dix will represent the council on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counties (NACo). The NACo Board oversees the Washington, DC based organization and represents county government nationwide.
Larry Dix has served as the executive director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials since 2002.
|Douglas County Mental Health Diversion Program
The incarceration of people with serious mental illness is of growing interest and concern nationally. Because jails and prisons are not designed to be mental health/substance abuse treatment facilities, diverting individuals with mental illness away from jails toward more appropriate, community-based mental health treatment has become an important component of national, state, and local strategies to enhance appropriate and effective mental health treatment.
to read the full article about the Douglas County Mental Health Diversion Program.
Editor's Note: Legal Line is a feature that will periodically appear in E-Line. This edition has been prepared by Elaine Menzel, a member of the NACO legal staff. Legal Line is not intended to serve as legal advice. Rather, it is published to alert readers to court decisions and legal or advisory matters important to county government. For a specific opinion on how the information contained in this article or that which will be discussed in future issues relates to your county, consult your county attorney or your personal counsel.
: The November 27th deadline for counties that elect county board members by district is quickly approaching. For additional information on the process see the NACO Legal Line article on redistricting in the May 2011 issue
on page 9. Of particular note, section 23-151(4)
provides: The district boundary lines shall not be changed
at any session of the county board unless all of the commissioners
are present at such session.
Additional information on redistricting may be obtained from articles that are posted on the Nebraska Legislature's website here
Updates on NACO Website
Updates on the NACO website
under the "County Issues" tab for "Counties" include:
* Public Records Law;
* County Purchasing Act; and
* County Zoning Statutes.
Additional topics will also be updated in the near future.
Inverse Condemnation Cased Decided By the Supreme Court
In Armstrong v. County of Dixon
, 282 Neb 623, --- N.W.2nd --- (2011), an inverse condemnation proceeding, the district court entered judgment on a jury verdict in favor of plaintiffs and against the County and awarded attorney fees in the amount of $5,600. The condemnees appealed the judgment to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, which affirmed the judgment. The condemnees petitioned for further review limited to the issue of attorney fees.
The Supreme Court concluded that the district court and the Court of Appeals erred in their interpretations of § 76-726(2)
and that the statute authorized and required the district court to award attorney fees incurred in county court in these inverse condemnation proceedings. It was further decided that the district court abused its discretion when it based its award of attorney fees under § 76-720
on whether the fees were incurred before or after the County made its settlement offer in the prior district court action. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals should have reversed the district court's award of attorney fees and remanded the cause to the district court for consideration of a new award of attorney fees based on the evidence received at the hearing on the condemnees' motion for attorney fees and on the standards set forth. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals with directions to reverse the district court's award of attorney fees and to remand the cause to the district court with instructions to award reasonable attorney fees under both §§ 76-720
in accordance with the standards set forth in this opinion.
No Conflicts of Interest Determined in Two Staff Opinions
Accountability and Disclosure Commission Staff determined in staff opinions, rather than formal Commission Advisory Opinions, there was no conflict of interest in two zoning-related situations. Both situations relate to a proposal to eliminate the minimum acreage provision from the Comprehensive Plan.
When determining whether or not a conflict of interest exists under the Accountability and Disclosure Act, section 49 -1499.03
is a key statutory provision. This section provides that an official of a political subdivision designated in section 49-1493
(including an elected county official) has a potential conflict of interest if he or she is faced with taking an official action or making an official decision which may result in a financial benefit or detriment to: a) the public official; b) a member of his or her immediate family; or c) a business with which he or she is associated. This benefit or detriment must be distinguishable from that experienced by the general public or a broad segment of it.
In the first situation, a commissioner owns land in the rural portion of a county but it falls within the zoning jurisdiction of a village. It was the opinion of the staff member that the commissioner would not have a conflict of interest because the commissioner's land is wholly within the zoning jurisdiction of a village and the proposed change would have no application to his land. Based on these aspects of the situation, there would be no potential financial benefit or detriment to him if the minimum lot size were to be eliminated from the plan. Therefore, the commissioner may participate, discuss and vote on the matter as he sees fit.
In the second situation, a commissioner has a variety of property interests in rural parts of the county and his wife has interests in a city's zoning jurisdiction. The opinion letter states in part,
The elimination of the minimum lot size provision from the Comprehensive Plan does not, by itself, permit the development of houses on smaller lots in areas under the County jurisdiction. A change in zoning regulations would be required. For such a change to take place, the proposed change in zoning regulations must be referred to the Planning Commission for consideration and public hearing. Thereafter, the matter would again be taken up by the County Board for consideration, public hearing and decision.
Eliminating the minimum lot size requirement for property under the County's jurisdiction affords greater flexibility to the landowner and likely enhances the salability of the land. This would be especially true of a landowner who is interested in developing the property. However, the action contemplated is not a change in the zoning regulation on lot sizes, but a provision in the Comprehensive Plan on lot sizes.
By its nature, the comprehensive plan is a statement of policy. "A comprehensive plan is merely a policy statement that may be implemented by a zoning resolution." Stones v. Plattsmouth Airport Authority 193 Neb. 552 (1975). "A comprehensive plan is a guide to community development rather than an instrument of land-use control." Stones, supra, quoting 3 Anderson, American Law of Zoning, Section 17.15.
Since the contemplated action is a change in a policy statement and not a change in regulations, there would be no effect on the commissioner's properties which are within the zoning jurisdiction of the county. Therefore, the commissioner may: a) participate and vote on the matter of the adoption or rejection of the Comprehensive Plan; and b) participate and vote on the matter of referring the issue of the elimination of the minimum lot size provision in the Comprehensive Plan to the Planning Commission for consideration. However, the opinion on the second situation applied only to consideration of the amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and not the amendments to the zoning regulations. If the proposal comes before the board in the form of a zoning amendment, the commissioner is encouraged to seek additional feedback from the Accountability and Disclosure Commission.
|Interim Hearing Schedule
During the interim between regular legislative sessions, standing committees of the Legislature conduct studies on resolutions introduced by senators during the session. Please note that the special session may affect the timing of hearings so consult the Legislature's website for updated information. Below is a listing of upcoming study hearings that may be of interest to counties.
Nov. 4 - Government Committee - LR 245 - Use of technology in elections
Nov. 4 - Government Committee - LR 307 - Examine the process for decreasing the number of county commissioners
Nov. 4 - Urban Affairs Committee - LR 241 - Examine the Nebraska Redevelopment Act and tax increment financing
Nov. 4 - Urban Affairs Committee - LR 227 - Examine adoption of a comprehensive plumbing code
Nov. 18 - Revenue Committee - LR 350 - Examine the process and procedures used to value and equalize property
Nov. 22 - Retirement Systems - LR 210 - Examine retirement systems administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board
Nov. 29 - Health and Human Services - LR 306 - Assess the effectiveness of the ACCESS Nebraska system in building partnerships with community-based organization and serving clients via the new system
Dec. 5 - Judiciary Committee - Special study of policies and procedures associated with immigrants who come into contact with law enforcement at federal, state, and local levels
Dec. 5 - Judiciary Committee - LR 243 - Examine the extent of human trafficking in Nebraska in connection with labor and sex trafficking
A full list of interim studies is available on the Legislature's website here.
Hearings conducted at the State Capitol can be watched through NET's live video streaming link.
|Nebraska Crime Commission Grant Announcement
The Nebraska Crime Commission has announced the availability of 2011 Federal Title II and 2012 State Juvenile Services funds. Applications are due to the Crime Commission by January 6, 2012. The application and instructions can be found on the Crime Commission website.
|Tom Osborne to Speak at NACO Conference Opening Session
Hall of Fame football coach Tom Osborne has continued to leave a lasting impression on the history of Nebraska Athletics since returning to lead the Husker program as the school's 13th athletic director on Oct. 16, 2007. Osborne, who led Nebraska to three national championships (1994, 1995, 1997) and 255 victories in his 25 years as the Huskers' head football coach, has continued to use his impressive leadership skills to guide the NU athletic department as a whole over the past four seasons.
With the core values of integrity, trust, respect, teamwork and loyalty serving as guiding principles for Nebraska's 23-sport program as a whole, Osborne has made historic decisions to help the University of Nebraska athletic programs for years to come.
Tom and Nancy Osborne founded the TeamMates Mentoring Program in 1991 to provide support and encouragement to school-aged youth. Mentors meet one hour per week in the schools to identify the strengths and talents of youth. TeamMates serves over 5,000 youth in 100 chapters across Nebraska and Iowa and is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Join us at Opening Session as the Coach turned Congressman and now Athletic Director reflects on the impact of mentoring in the lives of youth as well as the importance of leadership to a community.
Registration and Program
and tentative program
information are available on the NACO website
. Advance registration is $120 on or before November 25. Registrations received after that date will be $135.
As stated in the July 15 issue
of E-Line, NACO will hold a silent auction on Friday at the Annual Conference. County Clerks have been contacted to recruit their fellow county officials in soliciting donations from vendors in their county for the auction. It is NACO's hope that each county will be represented at the silent auction with at least one donation. When soliciting donations, a record of the donor and actual or approximate value of the item must be provided to NACO in order to meet statutory requirements for the silent auction. Some items that NACO has been informed of receiving include a 1 Day Goose hunt for 2 people in January with Rush Creek Adventures along with Mark Ferrari Coffee (roasted in Oshkosh) and Sandhills Natural Water (bottled north of Oshkosh) and a handmade quilted Christmas wall hanging. Following are examples of items that could be combined into one package for the auction:
Free night's stay at a hotel in the county
Complementary movie tickets or passes at a theatre in the county
Dinner for two at a restaurant in the county
A bottle of wine from a winery in the county
A beef bundle or package from a local meat shop
Utensils, (i.e. oven mitt, barbecue tools, grill pan)
Specialized barbecue sauce and/or seasoning
These are only suggestions. Use your imagination in determining what vendors to solicit and what your package will hold. If you have concerns that a donated item may be questionable, please contact Lisa Martin at NACO.
Exhibitors & Vendors
County officials who know of vendors that may be interested in participating as an exhibitor in NACO's Annual Conference are asked to suggest they contact the NACO office for details about the conference.
Each year the popularity of NACO's exhibition area continues to increase. If you know of possible exhibitors, please suggest to them that they contact the NACO office for further information.
Officials attending the NACO Annual Conference are reminded that continuous shuttle bus service to and from the conference site and contracted hotels will be provided all three days of the conference. The finalized schedule for shuttle service will be published in the conference program.
Readers are encouraged to refer to the July 15 issue
of E-Line for information regarding hotel accommodations for the conference. Contracted hotels, reservation phone numbers and reservation policies are listed in this issue of E-Line. NACO has sent an e-mail to all county clerks.
The site for the annual conference will be the Younes Event Center. This is a new structure built on the premises of several hotels. The structure is made up entirely of meeting space. As a result, there is no "host hotel" for the conference. The event center will allow NACO to house many more exhibitors and the meeting space will be adequate.
|County Official of the Year
Fillmore County Assessor Joan Ackland, 2010 County Official of the Year
Do you know of an elected or appointed county official who you feel serves as the embodiment of a true dedicated public official? If so, nominate that individual for the annual County Official of the Year Award.
The Nebraska Association of County Officials will present its highest honor to one county official at the conclusion of the December 16th NACO Business Meeting.
The County Official of the Year Award was created as a means of honoring one individual each year for his or her leadership abilities, high standard of public service and outstanding contributions made to the medium of county government and that person's community.
The official nomination form can be found here or on NACO's website. To nominate someone you know, print the form, complete it and return it to the NACO office by November 11. Also, include any supplemental materials you feel would provide additional insight into why this person is deserving of the award. Supporting material may include testimonial letters from peers or other printed matter that highlight his or her record of service.
Each of the 2011 nominees will be introduced and recognized during the course of the conference. At the conclusion of the NACO Business Meeting, the announcement will be made as to who has been chosen by a special selection committee.
The 2011 recipient will join an elite list of county officials who have previously received this award and will receive a handsomely engraved plaque befitting of this prestigious honor.
|NACo Web-based Education
Relieving Rush Hour Congestion - What Can Counties Do?
Thursday, November 10, 2011
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CST
Demand for travel by Americans continues to grow as the population increases, particularly in metropolitan areas. Construction of new road capacity to accommodate this growth in travel has not kept pace. This challenge is especially acute during rush hour periods, and it can be costly due to loss in worker productivity. Join this webinar to hear about tools and resources (including Intelligent Transportation Systems) that counties can use to reduce the impacts of congestion, especially during rush hour. Register here.
The Importance of Planning for Continuity of Government/Operations
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CST
Join this webinar to hear about the essential elements of a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) such as plans and procedures that delineate essential functions, specify emergency delegation of authority, provide for safekeeping of vital records, and identify alternate operating strategies. This is a NACo members only webinar. You must log in to the Member Center to register.
The Future of Financing County Energy Projects
Thursday, December 1, 2011
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CST
Over the past three years, many counties have been making significant energy project investments in their facilities - resulting in real savings over the long term and resource protection. Yet, much of the state and federal funding counties have relied on is not going to be available in 2012. The world of county energy finance is changing quickly. Participate in this webinar to learn about the new strategies available to finance your county energy projects. Register here.
For more information on these and other upcoming or previous webinars, visit the NACo Web-based Education page.