April 8, 2016                                                                           NACO E-Line Archive  

Upcoming Events

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County Board Workshop
June 1-3, 2016
Holiday Inn
Interested in a golf outing on the day prior?
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Clerks, Election Commissioners, Register of Deeds Workshop
June 15-17, 2016
Cornhusker Hotel
Tentative Agenda

Highway Superintendent, Surveyors, Engineers Workshop
June 14-16, 2016
Mid-Town Holiday Inn
Grand Island
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Treasurers Workshop
June 14-16, 2016
McCook (June 14)
Hayes Center (June 15-16)

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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.

TopIn This Issue
socialLegislative Staff Social
Each year the Nebraska Association of County Officials hosts a social event for the Legislative staff workers at the State Capitol. This year, on April 6th from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. about 60 people enjoyed fruit, cheeses, chocolates and other sweet treats in the NACO conference room.  The capitol staffers were allowed to relax for a few minutes and enjoy conversation with each other and with NACO staff members during their time at the NACO offices.

NACO Executive Director, Larry Dix and staff were pleased with the attendance and for allowing us to show our gratitude for everyone assisting in the process of shaping and making laws in the State of Nebraska.  Pictures of the event can be seen here.

budgetMay 5th Budget Workshop Cancelled
Following a review of the factors affecting attendance at the proposed biennial Budget Workshop conducted by the Nebraska Association of County Officials, it was decided that this year's workshop will be cancelled.

The review of previous budget workshop attendance figures concluded that the majority of the attendees are county clerks and county board members. Each of those groups holds an annual workshop within a month of the proposed day long budget workshop. This year the County Board Workshop Agenda Committee has chosen the Nebraska State Auditor's Office to present budget information along with auditing procedures that will build awareness of proper procedures associated with creating and maintaining a balanced budget with all aspects of accountability in place. Traditionally, the Clerks, Register of Deeds and Election Commissioners also engage the State Auditor's Office to speak at their mid-year workshop with the same topics in mind.

In addition, NACO heard from a number of county clerks who are also election commissioners and they noted that the proposed date for the budget workshop is the week preceding the Nebraska Primary elections. This in all probability will have a negative impact on the number of county clerks who are election commissioners that might attend the budget workshop given their election deadlines and the workload associated with conducting a primary election.

Additionally, many counties hire budget preparers outside the realm of current county employees. Attendance records indicate those outside preparers rarely attend the budget workshop.

With the county clerks and county board members consisting of over ninety percent of the attendees and each of them addressing budgeting and its processes during their respective annual workshops, it has become evident that attendance at a dedicated budget workshop will be very limited. NACO appreciates the comments and concerns that have been raised in regards to this year's budget workshop and will continue to look for the best way to deliver educational opportunities to our members in the future.

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cbwgolfGolf Outing Prior to County Board Workshop
NACO is currently in the process of discovering the interest and feasibility of hosting a golf outing on the day prior to the County Board Workshop.  It is our vision that the outing would be held at a local Kearney golf course from 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1st of this year. 

This event will not be a part of the workshop registration.  It will be a separate and stand alone event.  We have considered the possibility of having any excess funds generated being contributed to the NACO Scholarship Fund and being used to support county families that have children attending college.

If you might be interested in participating in such an event, please send an email to prior to May 1 to determine initial interest.

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legalLLegal 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.

Court Considers State Torts Claim Case

In Holloway v. State, 293 Neb. 12 ---N.W.2d --- (2016), an individual (plaintiff who was shot by Nikko Jenkins shortly after his release from prison sued the State of Nebraska and others in their official and individual capacities.  The basis of her claim was that the State and one of its contractors were negligent in failing to provide Jenkins with adequate mental health treatment and failing to seek mental health commitment prior to his release.  The district court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss without allowing her to proceed with discovery under the basis that whether to seek commitment is discretionary. Therefore, the State and its employees were entitled to immunity from suit.  Additionally, she had failed to plead sufficient facts to show that the contractor was liable, thus the court did not err in dismissing the complaint.  

By way of a very brief background, Jenkins had been sentenced to 21 years of incarceration with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (Department).  During his incarceration, he engaged in numerous violent activities and other conduct which violated the Department's rules, policies, and procedures and he repeatedly exhibited signs of a serious mental health problem and number times requested treatment for such problem.  After serving a portion of his sentence, Jenkins was released and subsequently shot the plaintiff.

According to the complaint, the State had a number of responsibilities with respect to inmates.  The responsibilities included operating certain correctional facilities in Nebraska,  assessing and evaluating inmates in order to determine the need for mental health commitment or other appropriate mental health service, and providing adequate advance notice to members of the public regarding the release of a dangerous individual who threatened serious bodily harm to others.

While plaintiff's complaint alleged the State was negligent in two respects, she limited her argument concerning the applicability to the State Tort Claim Act's (the Act) discretionary function exception to a decision to seek a mental health commitment.  The Act contains a discretionary function exception to the waiver of sovereign immunity for certain claims. According to the exception , the Act shall not apply to
[a]my claim based upon an act or omission of an employee of the state, exercising due care, in the execution of a statute, rule, or regulation, whether or not such statute, rule or regulation is valid, or based upon the exercise of performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function or duty on the part of a state agency or an employee of the state, where or not the discretion is abused.

Thus, a state actor's performance or nonperformance of a discretionary function cannot be a basis of liability under the Act. 

A court engages in a two-step analysis to determine whether the discretionary function exception of the Act applies.  First, the court must consider whether the action is a matter of choice for the acting employee.  If the court concludes that the challenged conduct involves an element of judgment, it must then determine whether that judgment is of the kind that the discretionary function exception was designed to shield.

The parties rely on different statutes of the Nebraska Mental Health Commitment Act (MHCA) in support of their arguments concerning whether the decision to seek a mental health commitment of another is a matter of choice for the employee.  The court examined both statutes.

Ultimately, the court concluded that the decision whether to report to the county attorney that another person is thought to be mentally ill and dangerous falls under the discretionary function exception; thus, an exception to the State's waiver of sovereign immunity applied. It further concluded that the plaintiff failed to plead facts to state a claim against a State Contractor.  Accordingly, the district court did not err in dismissing the plaintiff's complaint, nor did it abuse its discretion in finding her motion to compel discovery to be moot.  It affirmed.

Citations omitted throughout article.  To read more about the facts and the analysis of the case; click here.

Countygovernementdaycd County 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 The CD order form is available here.

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NACO's 2015 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.

As of  January 2016, NACO will no longer print the hard copy of the directory and send one to each county.  The directory has been made a part of the NACO website through a clickable and searchable icon and will be updated as corrections are submitted. The directory on the website is downloadable for a printed copy and it can also be transferred electronically to office computers and devices with memory storage such as smartphones and ipads.

For a copy of the latest 2015 directory, click here for the order form.

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County_Board_Handbook_2012 2015 County Board  Handbook and Revisions
The 2015 County Board Handbook and related revisions are now available! The cost for a current handbook, including legislative information from the 2015 session, is $80.00/book plus $18.00 shipping and handling per book. The 2015 Supplement to the County Board Handbook is available for $25.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. The order form is available on the NACO website. For questions, contact Elaine Menzel by email or call her at (402) 434-5660 ext. 225.

News From NACo

Join county officials, experts from the private and nonprofit sectors and other leaders from across the country in Los Angeles County, Calif. for the 2016 NACo Annual Conference and Exposition.  

nacowebNACo Webinars
Effectively Framing the Pretrial Justice Narrative 
Apr. 14, 2016, 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm CDT

Contact: Kathy Rowings(202) 942-4279
As stewards of taxpayer dollars and residents' safety, county elected officials must advocate for many important programs and policies. This webinar will explore effective ways for elected officials to explain and discuss the need for pretrial justice reforms in their community, and will highlight several county officials' successes in guiding and advancing the conversation about -and changes in - their own jurisdiction's pretrial justice system.
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