December 30, 2011                                                  NACO E-Line Archive 

Upcoming Events

The NACO and MIPS offices will be closed on
Monday, January 2nd

Have a safe and happy
New Year!
NACO Legislative Committee Meeting
January 27, 2012


NWCA Annual Conference

North Platte

February 6-9, 2012


County Board Workshop


February 8-10, 2012


To view all upcoming events click here



















AssocMembersAssociate 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.


 EducationFoundationEducation 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 deductible and will be 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 Larry Dix  / 402-434-5660 ext. 226.

In This Issue

Annual Conference Held in Kearney

Deb Houghtaling Selected County Official of the Year

Legal Line

Legislative News

Nebraska Crime Commission Grant Announcements

2012-2013 COMPETITIVE AmeriCorps Funds Announcement

News Across the State

News from NACo

NACo Web-based Education

Legal Calendar

County Classifieds

Associate & Sustaining Members

NACO Education Foundation Memorial Program


ConferenceAnnual Conference Held in Kearney Deemed Successful

For the first time in NACO history, the annual conference of the Nebraska Association of County Officials was held outside of Omaha or Lincoln.  Four years ago the NACO Board of Directors voted to hold the 2011 and 2012 annual conferences in Kearney. At the time of this decision, it was thought that the conference would have to be split between the Ramada Inn and the Holiday Inn Hotels. Since that time, the Younes Conference Center was built and the annual conference was able to be contained in just one building, with all meetings being held within the conference center, with the exception of Planning & Zoning Administrators, who held their Thursday sessions at the Fairfield Hotel, which connects to the Younes Conference Center. Many, many positive comments were made regarding the conference center itself and the Kearney location.


Actual attendance for the conference was 750 with 90 counties being represented. A total of 83 speakers, 82 educational sessions, 2 exams, 6 business meetings, 3 breakfasts, 10 luncheons, and 39.75 educational hours were contained in the 117th annual conference.


The opening session of the conference started with the Presentation of Colors by the Buffalo County Sheriff's Office Color Guard. Dr. Tom Osborne, University of Nebraska Athletic Director, addressed a "standing room only" group and spoke about his mentoring program "TeamMates" which he and his wife Nancy founded in 1991.


County board sessions on Thursday included a U.S. Senate Candidates Forum where State Senator Deb Fischer, Patrick Flynn, Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg addressed county board members.


For the first time, NACO held a silent auction at the Delegation Breakfast and Business Meeting with proceeds going to the NACO Education Foundation, which provides scholarships for the children of Nebraska County Officials and their employees. Counties and donors in Nebraska provided items for the auction and a total of $5,558.00 was raised for the Education Foundation.


At the NACO Annual Business Meeting, LeRoy Janssen was elected NACO President with Leon Kolbet being elected Vice President and Terry Keebler elected Secretary/Treasurer. Steven Erdman will make up the fourth member of the NACO officers as Past President.


2011 NACO President, Steven Erdman honored several Nebraska Veterans Service Officers with President's Awards. Veterans Service Officers that received awards were Joseph Ballweg, Adams County; Ronald Marshall, Antelope County; Bill Giesler, Keith & Arthur Counties; John Brehm, Scotts Bluff & Banner Counties; Linda Bomberger, Custer, Blaine & Loup Counties; Jacqueline Wells, Boone County; Lewis Midgett, Box Butte County; Arnold Hall, Holt, Boyd & Wheeler Counties; Bill Williams, Buffalo County; Phillip Erikson, Burt County; Stacy Dufault, Cass County; Scott Stanton, Cedar County; Duane Todd, Chase County; Ronald Gusman, Cheyenne County, Jeffery Fankhauser, Dawes County; Earl Linn, Dawson County; Steve Snover, Dodge County; Bernard Brosnihan, Douglas County; Barry Corder, Dundy County; Eric Williams, Fillmore County; Art Johnsen, Franklin, Furnas, Harlan & Phelps County; Phil Dittbrenner, Gage County; Lyn Salmon, Garden County; Don Shuda, Hall, Howard, Nance & Sherman Counties; Alan Vetter, Hamilton County; Laverne Fritsch, Johnson County; Gary Chalupa, Lancaster County; Paul Cooper, Lincoln/McPherson County; Leslie (Mike) Smith, Madison County; Gary Berry, Merrick County; Robert Erdman, Morrill County; Loras Baumhover, Nemaha County; Marvin Pesek, Otoe County; Tom Stritt, Red Willow County; Tom Mlnarik, Sarpy County; Jeff Baker, Seward County; Gary Sones, Sheridan County; Gregg Hanson, Stanton County; Rodney Kirchoff, Thayer County; Ronald Gestring, Webster County; and Donald Sandman, York County.


In addition to honoring Veterans Service Officers, President Erdman also presented Earl McNutt, Red Willow County Commissioner, with a President's Award. Maureen Hayden, Logan County Treasurer, was presented with the 2011 MIPS Client of the Year award.


COYDeb Houghtaling Selected as County Official of the Year 
Click to view full size image

Deb Houghtaling, Sarpy County Clerk, was named "County Official of the Year" for 2011 at the 117th Annual Nebraska Association of County Officials Conference held in Kearney at the Younes Conference Center. The award was presented to Houghtaling at the NACO Business Meeting on Friday, December 16.


A plaque was presented to Houghtaling by NACO President, Steve Erdman. The award has been presented annually since 1970 in recognition of the outstanding contributions and commitment to public service a county official has made throughout the year.


Among reasons given for her nomination, the Sarpy County Board cited Houghtaling's tremendous dedication to serving the citizens of Sarpy County, her professionalism in advancing the cause of county government in the State of Nebraska and the leadership skills she has brought to her office and the many community organizations she supports. "She is the longest reigning "elected Official" in Sarpy County at this time. January, 2012 will mark Deb's 24th anniversary as County Clerk and she has been in this office for 35 years," stated the Sarpy County Board. 

LegalLineLegal Line 

Editor's Note: Legal Line is a feature that will periodically appear in E-Line. This edition has been prepared by Beth Ferrell, 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.


Court Clarifies County Responsibility for Guardian Ad Litem Costs


The Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion regarding fees awarded to a guardian ad litem (GAL) in a juvenile case. It found that because only a county attorney can initiate a juvenile case, the GAL was not entitled to fees for actions taken after the case was dismissed.


In In re interest of David M. et al, 19 Neb. App. 399 ___ N.W.2nd ___ (2011), juvenile court proceedings were initiated due to allegations that no one was available to care for four children because their mother was in jail and their fathers were residing in Mexico. The mother was deported to Mexico and, after efforts for reunification, the State filed a motion to dismiss in December 2009, effective upon the children's return to Mexico to be with their mother. The GAL filed a supplemental petition and in February 2010 a hearing was held to address that motion.  At the close of the hearing, the case was again dismissed. When the GAL sought attorney fees for her services, the county objected to paying for actions taken after the December dismissal.


The Court of Appeals found that the juvenile court proceedings were terminated when the State filed the motion to dismiss in December 2009.  Because the case had been dismissed, the GAL's supplemental petition was actually an original petition initiating a new action and she was not entitled to fees for actions taken after the December 2009 dismissal.


Mailbox Rule Applied to Personal Property Tax Return


When is a personal property tax return considered mailed? A Lincoln County company found the answer to that question when the Court of Appeals affirmed a penalty for late filing. In Midwest Renewable Energy v. Lincoln Cty. Bd. of Eq., 19 Neb. App. 441, ___ N.W.2d ___ (2011), a company's controller prepared its personal property tax return before the May 1 deadline and placed it in a box in the company office designated for the company's outgoing mail. Because there was no record in the county assessor's office that the return had been received before the deadline, a 25-percent statutory penalty was imposed. The company, Midwest Renewable Energy (MRE), appealed the penalty to the county board of equalization, which determined that a penalty of $58,400.44 should be applied to MRE's personal property tax return.


The parties filed a joint motion for the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) to decide the case. The TERC affirmed the county board of equalization's decision, concluding that because there was no direct proof that the envelope was mailed using the U.S. Postal Service, there was no presumption of receipt by the assessor. MRE appealed TERC's decision to the Court of Appeals.


The Court first decided issues of jurisdiction raised by filing the initial appeal of the penalty with the county assessor, rather than the county clerk, as required by statute. It concluded that because the protest letter appeared on the board's record and a letter was sent to MRE to provide notice of the board's consideration of the protest, the document was considered "filed".


The Court then applied the mailbox rule to the tax return. Under Neb.Rev.Stat. 49-1201, any tax return shall be deemed filed and received on the date it was mailed if the sender establishes that the tax return was deposited in the U.S. mail on or before the date for filing or paying. Despite evidence that the U.S. Postal Service had consistently picked up mail from MRE's outgoing mail box, MRE did not establish that the mail was picked up on the date purported. Because the TERC's decision conformed to the law and was not arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable, the decision was affirmed.


LegNewsLegislative News



The 102nd Legislature, 2nd Session, will convene Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

Agendas and additional information can be found on the Nebraska Legislature's website.
NCCGrantNebraska Crime Commission Grant Announcements 

2011/2012 Federal and State Juvenile Justice Grant

 Applications are due to the Crime Commission by January 6, 2012.


2011 STOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Grant

 Applications are due to the Crime Commission by January 23, 2012.


A grant application webinar will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2011 from 11 a.m. to noon CST. This will be an opportunity to walk through the 2011 VAWA application. Those interested in accessing this webinar should email and note in the subject line, "VAWA webinar." This webinar, along with a Questions and Answers document, will be available for later viewing here. Participation in this webinar is not required to apply for funding.


2012 County Aid and County Aid Enhancement Grants

 Applications are due to the Crime Commission by January 27, 2012.


Additional information and applications and instructions can be found on the Crime Commission website


AmeriCorps2012-2013 AmeriCorps  COMPETITIVE Request for Applications 

ServeNebraska announces the availability of 2012-2013 Competitive AmeriCorps funds for programs operating exclusively within Nebraska or multi-state programs with a presence in our state.


This opportunity is appropriate for community-based non-profit organizations and public entities with experience in successfully implementing significant-scale multi-site national or community service programming with sophisticated well-developed program designs addressing human services, educational, environmental, public safety, veterans, or disaster preparedness and response needs.


This opportunity is designed for experienced providers of programming. Qualified proposals will be submitted to compete for funding nationally with quality proposals from other states and strong multi-state applications. AmeriCorps programming funded under this Request for Applications will begin September 1, 2012.


Learn more, take a voluntary organizational readiness self-assessment, and access application materials here.


StateNewsNews Across the State

Links are to outside sources and may not be available indefinitely


County hits snag on reviews

Columbus Telegram, 12/21/11


County earns $2,478 recycling old license plates

Journal Star, 12/22/11


Vote could trim two offices to one

Omaha World Herald, December 27, 2011


Dirt isn't cheap: Ag land valuations rising

Journal Star, December 28, 2011


Courthouse, jail lobby getting ATMs

Kearney Hub, December 28, 2011


Phelps County to track road signs, their conditions with GPS software

Kearney Hub, December 28, 2011


Tax statements on their way, officials upset with software

Fremont Tribune, December 29, 2011


State maps Sandhills region that Keystone XL must avoid

Journal Star, December 29, 2011


NACoNewsNews from NACo 

NACo_LogoRegistration is Open for NACo's 2012 Legislative Conference to be Held March 3-7 in Washington, DC


Online registration is now open for NACo's 2012 Legislative Conference featuring Tucker Carlson and Eleanor Clift, two "inside the Beltway" experts, who will provide conference attendees with their perspectives on Obama, the Republicans and the 2012 elections at the March 5 general session.


Carlson is a veteran journalist and political commentator, currently working for Fox News. Clift is a longtime Newsweek magazine contributor and a regular panelist on the syndicated talk show, "The McLaughlin Group."


Click here for additional information and to register.


NACoWebEdNACo Web-based Education 
Introduction to Generating Wind Power for Your Local Communities
Thursday, January 12, 2012
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CST

Today many county leaders understand how solar power works and how it can be used to power local facilities, but most believe that wind power is different - that it can only be produced by large utilities. Learn how distributed wind power enables local communities to power their own facilities. Register here.

Enhancing Local Criminal Justice Practice with a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
Thursday, February 2, 2012
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CST
As counties face budget deficits, local criminal justice systems are being forced to use increasingly limited resources as widely as possible. A criminal justice coordinating council (CJCC) is a great resource for counties that want to gain a better understanding of their local criminal justice system, to develop greater cooperation among agencies and units of local government, and to establish more effective resource allocation. Join this webinar to learn how to develop a CJCC or enhance your existing CJCC. Register here.
Developing a Social Media Policy That's Right for Your County
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM CST
More counties are utilizing social media communications tools every day. But what are the rules? Explore the issues your county should consider when developing a countywide social media policy, such as employee access and conduct, content, security and legal matters. Learn directly from county representatives who have developed social media practices for their county. This is a NACo members only webinar. You must log in to the Member Center to register.

For more information on these or other upcoming or previous webinars, visit the NACo Web-based Education page.
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