NACO_E-News_Header
April 18, 2014                                                                   www.nacone.org   NACO E-Line Archive 

Upcoming Events

Assessors Spring Workshop 

May 22-23, 2014
Lincoln, Cornhusker Hotel 

 

Nebraska Association of County Engineers, Highway Superintendents, and Surveyors Summer Meeting

June 10-12, 2014

North Platte, Quality Inn & Suites Convention Center

 

Clerks, Election Commissioners, Register of Deeds Workshop

June 11-13, 2014

Kearney, Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center

 

Clerks of District Court Workshop

June 18-19, 2013

Fairbury, Main Street Center

 

Treasurers Workshop

June 17-19, 2014

Lincoln, Holiday Inn Downtown 

 

 

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

Register Now for Clerks, Election Commissioners, Register of Deeds Workshop 

Recycling Equipment Grants Available for 2014   

Budget Workshop Cancelled for 2014  

Real Property Value Percentage Change  

Legal Line 

U.S. Communities  

Order NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials Now  

County Government Day PowerPoint 

2013 County Board Handbook and Revisions  

News From NACo 

NACo Web-Based Education 

News Across the State

County Classifieds 

Legal Calendar 

Associate & Sustaining Members 

NACO Education Foundation Memorial Program 

 

Clerks_WorkshopRegister Now for Clerks, Election Commissioners, Register of Deeds Workshop                             
Advance registrations will soon be on-line at NACO's website for the County Clerks, Election Commissioners and Registers of Deeds Workshop scheduled for June 11-13, 2014, in Kearney at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center.

  

Officers of the Clerks, Election Commissioners and Registers of Deeds Association met in April to establish agendas for their respective organizations. A tentative agenda for the workshop can be found by clicking here. This agenda is tentative because confirmation from all speakers has not been received.

 

Guest rooms may be reserved by contacting the Holiday Inn at (308) 237-5971. Room rates are $86.95 single/double. When making reservations, inform hotel staff that you are attending the NACO workshop to receive the contracted rate.

Recycling_GrantsRecycling Equipment Grants Available for 2014                             

The Nebraska State Recycling Association (NSRA) has grant funds available for municipalities, other government entities, non-profits and recycling companies (for example, waste haulers) who wish to purchase recycling equipment.  Interested parties should go to www.recyclenebraska.org and call Deb Rost at 402-933-3059 in Omaha for more information. Grants can help fund the purchase of recycling trailers, semi trailers, carts, dumpsters, balers, forklifts, trucks and more. Equipment may be new, used or in need of refurbishing.  Grants will be awarded until the funds are depleted. This is a quick-turnaround program where application-to-approval is usually accomplished in approximately a month.

 

This grant is one of 132 projects that will receive $21,750,000 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The Trust has awarded more than $213 million to over 1,600 natural resource projects in Nebraska since 1994, and the grants are funded by proceeds from the Nebraska Lottery.

 

The Nebraska State Recycling Association is a membership organization of public and private organizations as well as citizens, and has been a recycling advocate for Nebraska since 1980. 

Budget_WorkshopNACO Budget Workshop Cancelled for 2014
NACO's Budget Workshop,normally held every two years, and listed on the NACO 2014 Courthouse Calendar for May 8, 2014 has been cancelled due to lack of attendance.  Records show that attendance for the last two workshops has gradually declined, therefore a decision to sponsor this workshop every four years, as opposed to every two years was made recently.  Please make a note on your calendar.
Real_Property_ValueReal Property Value Percentage Change                           
The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division has processed the 2014 Real Property Abstract of Assessment filed by the 93 Nebraska county assessors.  To view a press release issued by the Department of Revenue regarding value percentage change for 2013-2014, click here.
legal_lineLegal Line

Editor's Note: Legal Line is a feature that will periodically appear in NACO E-Line. This edition has been prepared by Elaine Menzel 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 personal counsel. 

 

Supreme Court Decides Employment Case While counties as employers do not pay commissions to their employees, the case of Coffey v. Planet Group, Inc.  287 Neb. 834, ---  N.W. 2d --- (2014), is of potential interest due to the Supreme Court's consideration  of employment law  issues that do pertain to county employees.  For example, the court considered employment at-will factors and provisions of the Wage Payment and Collection Act (Wage Act - Neb. Rev. Stat. 49-1228-48-1232).

 

The Coffey case grew out of a situation involving a former employee seeking commissions that were ongoing at the time of his termination.

 

In light of the claims related to commissions due, the court discussed that the Wage Act had been amended by the Legislature following the Court's decision in Roseland v. Strategic Staff Mgmt,  272 Neb. 434, 722 N.W.2d 499 (2006).  Currently, section 48-1229(4) states in part:

 

Wages means compensation for labor or services rendered by an employee, including fringe benefits, when previously agreed to and conditions stipulated have been met by the employee, whether the amount is determined on a time, task, fee, commission, or other basis. Paid leave, other than earned but unused vacation leave, provided as a fringe benefit by the employer shall not be included in the wages due and payable at the time of separation, unless the employer and the  employee  or  the  employer  and the collective-bargaining representative have specifically agreed otherwise. Unless the employer and employee have specifically agreed otherwise through a contract effective at the commencement of employment or at least ninety days prior to separation, whichever is later, wages includes commissions on all orders delivered and all orders on file with the employer at the time of separation of employment less any orders returned or canceled at the time suit is filed.

 

 

Modifications by the Legislature to the Wage Act included language to fringe benefits, unused vacation leave and when commissions become payable.  The Court's focus on this statutory provision related to commissions and when they are earned by an employee.

 

In another claim, the terminated employee asserted that although employees are terminable at will they still have a good faith and fair dealing claim if the employer wrongfully acts to defeat the employee's expectations.  The court disagreed with this claim after stating:

 

The implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing exists in every contract and requires that none of the parties to the contract do anything which will injure the right of another party to receive the benefit of the contract.  The nature and extent of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing are measured in a particular contract by the justifiable expectations of the parties.  Where one party acts arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably, that conduct exceeds the justifiable expectations of the second party. A violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing occurs only when a party violates, nullifies, or significantly impairs any benefit of the contract.  The scope of conduct prohibited by the covenant of good faith is circumscribed by the purposes and express terms of the contract. (Citations omitted.)

 

In this case, the contract between the terminated employee and the employer was the Compensation Plan signed by both parties as part of the terminated employee's employment. In his amended complaint, the terminated employee alleged that the employer ended his employment in bad faith to avoid paying additional commissions under the Wage Act.

 

The court articulated employment at-will policy as follows:

 

Unless constitutionally, statutorily, or contractually prohibited, an employer, without incurring liability, may terminate an at-will employee at any time with or without reason. We recognize, however, a public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine. Under the public policy exception, an employee can claim damages for wrongful discharge when the motivation for the firing contravenes public policy. The public policy exception is

restricted to cases when a clear mandate of public policy has been violated, and it should be limited to manageable and clear standards. In determining whether a clear mandate of public policy is violated, courts should inquire whether the employer's conduct contravenes the letter or purpose of a constitutional, statutory, or regulatory provision or scheme. (Trosper v. Bag N' Save, 273 Neb. 855, 734 N.W.2d 704 (2007).

 

In Trosper, the court evaluated whether a discharged employee had a cause of action for retaliatory demotion when an employer demoted an employee for filing a worker's compensation claim.  Additionally, the court stated the following principles:

 

We have addressed whether a public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine should apply in several cases.  We have previously recognized public policy exceptions when a statute prohibits an employer from discharging an employee. And we have recognized the exception when an employee reports, in good faith, his suspicions that his employer is violating a criminal law. In contrast, we determined that the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act did not "represent a 'very clear mandate of public policy' which would warrant recognition of an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine." That act did not prohibit employers from discharging employees, and it did not provide employees with any substantive rights. Instead, it was primarily remedial, providing an enforcement mechanism for rights that already exist. (Citations omitted.)

 

Prior to the Coffey decision, the court has determined that the Wage Act did not

"'represent a "very clear mandate of public policy" which would warrant recognition of an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine.'" (Citations omitted.)  The court stated, "[T]he Wage Act does not prohibit employers from discharging employees, and it does not provide employees with any substantive rights.  Thus, while the Wage Act provides [the terminated employee] with a remedy to collect any compensation which [the employer] may owe him, it does not "declare '"an important public policy with such clarity as to provide a basis for a civil action for wrongful discharge."'"  (Citations omitted.)

 

The court concluded, as a matter of law, the terminated employee could not prove a bad faith claim based on his termination as an at-will employee, because there was no evidence of a public policy violation. His only avenue for recovery was a breach of contract claim.

 

For the full text of the Coffey opinion, click here 

.    

 

US_CommunitiesU.S. Communities
NACO_DirectoryOrder NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials Now
NACO's 2014 Directory of County Officials is a valuable resource that not only gives you names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses of every county official in the state, but includes a listing of county board meeting days, NACO districts, county seats, NACO officers and directors, affiliate officers and NACO staff.  County clerks for each county will receive one complimentary copy of the directory intended for use by all offices in their courthouse.  For additional copies, click here for the order form.
CountygovernementdaycdCounty Government Day PowerPoint
The PowerPoint presentation is available electronically at no charge (sent via e-mail) for use by counties during their annual County Government Day. The PowerPoint provides a comprehensive look at county government functions in the State of Nebraska and can be customized by each county. CD's are also available for $10.00 each to cover processing, shipping and handling. To request the County Government Day PowerPoint electronically, please e-mail your request to larrydix@nacone.org. The CD order form is available here.
County_Board_Handbook_20122013 County Board  Handbook and Revisions
The 2013 County Board Handbook and related revisions are available. The cost for a current handbook, including legislative information from the 2013 session, is $80.00/book plus $17.00 shipping and handling per book. The 2013 Supplement to the County Board Handbook is available for $20.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. The order form is available on the NACO website here. For questions, contact Ashley Vandeloo by clicking here or call her at (402) 434-5660 ext. 223.
News_From_NACoNews From NACo
2014 NACo Annual Conference and Exposition Registration is now OPEN! 
Register today for NACo's Annual conference and exposition taking place July 11-14, 2014 in Orleans Parish/New Orleans, Louisiana.  NACo's Annual Conference and Exposition is THE conference to attend for county officials and county staff nationwide.

Innovation, networking and education are reasons why you need to attend.  Click here for details.  After Friday, May 30th, registration fees increase so register now to get the best price on the best investment you can make for your county!
NACo_Web_Based_EducationNACo Web-Based Education

Mental Health Parity:  What it Means for Counties as Providers

Thursday, May 8, 2014, 2-3:15 p.m. EST

 

To register for this webinar, click here.

 

Sustainable Waste Management Strategies for Counties

Thursday, May 15, 2014, 2-3:15 p.m. EST

 

To register for this webinar, click here.

 

To view NACo's entire web-based education listing, click here.
News_Across_the_StateNews Across the State
Nebraska Association of County Officials
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