Scott County, Tennessee
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Duties of Elected Officials

COUNTY MAYOR SHERIFF ROAD SUPERINTENDENT
COUNTY CLERK CIRCUIT COURT CLERK TRUSTEE
ASSESSOR OF PROPERTY REGISTER OF DEEDS COUNTY COMMISSION

Duties of the County Mayor

As chief executive officer of the county, the County Mayor exercises a role of leadership in county government. The primary duties focus on county financial management. The County Mayor is the general agent of the county and thus may draw warrants upon the general fund. The County Mayor has custody of county property not placed with other officers, and may also examine the accounts of county officers.

The County Mayor is a nonvoting ex officio member of the county legislative body and of all committees of the body, and may be elected chair of the county legislative body (a post that the County Mayor is not required to seek or accept). If the County Mayor is chair of the county legislative body, the County Mayor may break a tie by casting a deciding vote; otherwise, the County Mayor cannot vote on measures before the county legislative body. The County Mayor who is not chair may veto legislative resolutions of the county legislative body, but such a veto may be overridden by a majority vote of the members of the county legislative body. The County Mayor may call special meetings of the county legislative body.

Unless an optional general law, charter or private act provides otherwise, the County Mayor compiles a budget for all county departments, offices, and agencies, which is presented to the county legislative body. The amount of discretion in making budget proposals varies from county to county, and in almost all counties the school board's budget proposal is submitted to the county legislative body without modification. If the county operates under the 1981 Financial Management System, the County Mayor is a member of the financial management committee. If the county operates under the 1957 County Budgeting Law, the County Mayor is a member of the county budget committee.

The County Mayor may employ a county attorney if a county attorney is not provided by private act or charter and has approval power over the delinquent tax attorney selected by the county trustee. By virtue of private acts, the County Mayor is often granted authority in addition to that given by the general law. For example, in many counties the County Mayor serves as county purchasing agent. The County Mayor also serves on various boards and committees with multi-county jurisdiction, such as the Development District Board.

Subject to the approval of the county legislative body, the County Mayor appoints department heads and members of county boards and commissions when the general law or private acts do not provide a method for the election or appointment. This authority is limited, however, as the general law or private act creating the department or board usually specifies the method by which the various department heads or board members are selected.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important function of the office, County Mayors should have knowledge of personnel procedures as affected by both state and federal laws. The County Mayor should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. All county officials should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of the County Clerk

The County Clerk has many important functions within the county government. The County Clerk serves as clerk of the county legislative body, keeps the records of the county legislative body and sends required notices. The minutes of the county legislative body meetings are required to be promptly and fully recorded by the County Clerk and are open to public inspection.

The County Clerk collects business taxes, handles motor vehicle registration and licensing and collects county wheel taxes. Also, the County Clerk issues marriage licenses, collects the state and any county privilege tax on marriage, and may solemnize a marriage. Since notaries public are elected by the county legislative body, the County Clerk keeps a record of the notaries public in the county and has duties involving coordination between the Office of Secretary of State and the notary applicant. County clerks have other miscellaneous licensing duties, including pawnbroker licensing, hunting and fishing licensing and others. In some counties, County Clerks serve as clerks of court, the most common of which are juvenile and probate court. The County Clerk's office receive fees for these services. Tennessee Code Annotated §8-21-701 is the basic County Clerk's fee statute.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important aspect of the County Clerk's responsibilities, County Clerks should be familiar with both state and federal laws relating to personnel matters. Also, the County Clerk should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of the Assessor of Property

The Assessor of Property determines the value of all property in the county, whether real, personal or mixed, including mineral rights, leaseholds and all other property except property of public utilities valued by the state. The Assessor maintains the property tax maps of the county and keeps current indexes of taxpayers, including a description of the property on the tax books sufficient to identify it. The Assessor also reports assessments to the local and state boards of equalization. Taxpayers who feel that the Assessor has placed an unfair value on their property may appeal to the Local Board of Equalization and then to the State Board of Equalization.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important aspect of the Assessor's responsibilities, this official should be familiar with both state and federal laws relating to personnel matters. Also, the Assessor should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. All county officials should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of Sheriff

The duties of the sheriff's office are quite varied. Except in Davidson County, the sheriff has the important duty to prevent crimes, investigate criminal conduct that has occurred, and arrest criminals. Sheriffs and their deputies must be thoroughly acquainted with the Tennessee criminal code. The sheriff should develop a good working relationship with the staff of the district attorney general's office. Sheriffs also serve as jailers and many serve as superintendent of the county workhouse (in some counties, the jail is also the workhouse). County jails are responsible for the housing of misdemeanant prisoners. Many county jails also house state prisoners (persons convicted of felony offenses) due to lack of space in state prison facilities. The sheriffs in these counties perform important functions in obtaining state reimbursement for expenses associate with housing state prisoners. Related to criminal casework are additional duties requiring the sheriff to dispose of contraband, abandoned motor vehicles, and unlawful weapons.

Sheriffs also have many duties that are civil in nature. They include the duty to execute and return, according to law, the civil process and orders of the courts of record and general sessions court. Sheriffs and their deputies serve subpoenas, execute writs of possession, levy writs of execution (which involve taking property to satisfy judgments), serve garnishments, and serve orders of protection. Each of these civil duties, as well as many others, have specific requirements, time requirements, and duties with which the sheriff and deputy sheriffs must be familiar.

Additionally, the sheriff, or an officer designated by the sheriff, must attend all courts held in the county. This is generally when a deputy sheriff acts as court officer or bailiff. Sheriffs and their deputies operate under strict legal standards and must strive to perform their duties correctly. For example, failure to respect the civil rights of citizens, including prisoners, can result in personal liability as well as liability for the county. The actions of sheriffs and deputies often serve as the basis of lawsuits initiated by persons displeased with what has happened to them. Sheriffs must be acquainted with the civil and criminal aspects of the federal civil rights laws, the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act and numerous other laws.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important component of a sheriff's duties, sheriffs should know about personnel procedures and both state and federal laws such as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of Circuit Court Clerk

Court Clerks serve an important role in the operation of the court system in Tennessee. Clerks must attend each session of court with all the papers in the cases on the docket and must administer the oaths to parties and witnesses who testify in a case. Clerks usually keep minutes of the court in a well-bound book, but may keep this information in electronic format so long as certain rules relating to the safe-keeping of the records are followed. Because Court Clerks deal with voluminous paperwork, the storage and retention of documents are important considerations. When a case is appealed from a court of record, the Clerk compiles the record (papers) needed for the appeal, and it is extremely important that the records of the Clerk's office be well-organized and accurate.

Clerks maintain the rule docket and an execution docket in which all court judgments or decrees are entered in order of rendition by the court and in which all receipts and disbursements in a case are entered. Clerks also maintain indexes for all books and dockets that are kept by the office.

Clerks collect state and county litigation taxes, criminal injuries compensation tax, county expense fees, funds for the impaired driver's trust fund, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation fees, misdemeanant jail per diems, fines, sheriff's fees, clerk's fees, witness fees and other items of court costs. Clerks prepare bills of costs in cases, account for these monies and make collection efforts when these amounts are unpaid. Clerks may elect to use certain "flat fees" in lieu of itemizing the fees according to the clerk's fee statute, Tennessee Code Annotated § 8-21-401. Clerks maintain a cash journal (general ledger) to account for and summarize the cash transactions of the office and issue receipts for all collections.

Clerks invest idle funds pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 18-5-106, and often serve in a fiduciary capacity to invest funds held for third parties. Additionally, many Clerks conduct delinquent tax sales and other sales of property as ordered by the court. Clerks may collect support, including alimony and child support, pursuant to court order and the Tennessee Code Annotated.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important aspect of the Court Clerk's responsibilities, the Clerk should have knowledge of personnel procedures and both state and federal laws. The Clerk should also have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of Register of Deeds

The most important function of the Register's office is the filing or recording of documents which affect the legal status of real and personal property. With regard to real property, these documents include deeds, deeds of trust (mortgages), financing statements called fixture filings under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), assignments, plats, court decrees, leases, liens, releases and many other instruments. With regard to personal property, the most important documents have been financing statements under the UCC and instruments relating to financing statements, such as amendments, continuation statements, assignments, releases and termination statements; however, most of these UCC documents are now filed with the secretary of state and not with the Register. Powers of attorney are often recorded in the Register's office. Also, some official documents (county official bonds and certain official reports) are recorded or filed in the Register's office. The Register notes in a notebook the time and receipt of each document in the order received and maintains indexes of the records of the office. The Register must be familiar with the requirements for acceptance applicable to each document. The prerequisites for acceptance of a document vary with the type of document. It is important to remember that a Register is not a notary and does not have a statutory power to take acknowledgments, as do county clerks.

The Register has important revenue functions, both for the collection of fees for performing the duties of the office (most of which are found in Tennessee Code Annotated § 8-21-1001) and collection of two state privilege taxes: the transfer tax and the mortgage tax. Currently, the state realty transfer tax is 37¢ per $100 of value or consideration and the mortgage tax is 11.5¢ per $100 or major fraction thereof over $2,000 of indebtedness. The Register must be knowledgeable concerning the many special rules and exceptions which apply to the collection of the realty transfer and mortgage taxes. The Register must be knowledgeable about the required statements on instruments evidencing transfers of real estate or certain interests in real estate and instruments of indebtedness.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important component of the Register's duties, Registers should know about personnel procedures and both state and federal laws. Also, the Register should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of Road Superintendent

In counties not under the CUHL, the duties of highway officials are determined by private act or county or metropolitan charter. In counties under the CUHL, the CAO has certain duties that cannot be displaced by private act. For example, the CAO determines the number of employees and establishes personnel policies, compensation of employees and hours of work, so long as the budget is not exceeded. Also, the CAO may employ legal counsel or solicit the use of litigation concerning the county highway department. The CAO submits to the county legislative body and to the Tennessee Department of Transportation an annual work program for the use of state-aid funds. The CAO supervises and controls the machinery, equipment, tools and supplies of the department and must complete an inventory within 60 days of taking office and must be updated annually.

The CAO must ensure that equipment belonging to the county road department is clearly marked. The CAO must file with the county legislative body an annual listing of all roads included in the county highway system. This listing must include a detailed summary of all changes from the previous listing and recommendations for classifying the roads, adding roads, or removing roads from the system. Under the CUHL, the CAO also determines work priorities and general highway policy, except in those counties with a popularly elected highway commission.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important matter for a CAO or highway official, the official should be informed of personnel procedures and both state and federal laws. Also, the CAO or highway official should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interests and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of Trustee

The Trustee acts as the general banker for the county, serving three primary functions. First, the Trustee sends out statements for property taxes, one of the county's most important revenue sources, and then collects these taxes and issues receipts. Second, the Trustee receives and disburses county funds, keeping accurate records for each transaction. It is recommended that all county funds received by the Trustee's office be deposited daily; however, state law requires all funds to be deposited within three days. Revenues are identified by use of a uniform chart of accounts authorized by the comptroller's office and administered by the County Audit Division. Disbursements of county funds are made on official county warrants which are recorded in a warrant register book, or through a checking system if the county has elected to convert from a warrant system. The Trustee files monthly and annual financial reports. For performing these duties, the Trustee receives commissions, which are generally outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated § 8-11-110. A third important function of the county Trustee is managing the cash flow of the county and, in some cases, investing idle cash funds. The Trustee should work with the county finance committee to ensure that investments are made according to state law and produce the maximum yield of earnings with the highest degree of safety.

OTHER DUTIES - Since office management is an important responsibility, Trustees should have knowledge of personnel procedures as well as relevant state and federal laws. Also, the Trustee should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal and county, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. All county officials should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Duties of County Commissioners

The county legislative body is the primary policy-making body in the county. However, the county legislative body is limited to the authority granted to it by the General Assembly in public (general) or private (local) acts. The most important function of the county legislative body is the annual adoption of a budget to allocate expenditures within the three major funds of county government - general, school, and highway - and any other funds (such as debt service) that may be in existence in that particular county. The county legislative body has considerable discretion in dealing with the budget for all funds except the school budget, which in most counties must be accepted or rejected as a whole. If rejected, the school board must continue to propose alternatives until a budget is adopted by both the county school board and the county legislative body. The county legislative body sets a property tax rate which, along with revenues from other county taxes and fees as well as state and federal monies allocated to the county, is used to fund the budget. The county legislative body is subject to various restrictions in imposing most taxes (such as referendum approval or rate limits, for example), although these do not apply to the property tax.

The county legislative body serves an important role in exercising local approval authority for private acts when the private act does not call for referendum approval.

Private acts, which often give additional authority to counties, must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of the county legislative body or be approved by a referendum in order to become effective. The form of local approval required is specified in the private act.

The county legislative body annually elects a chairperson and a chairperson pro tempore. The county legislative body may elect the County Mayor or a member of the body to the chair, although the County Mayor may refuse to serve. If the County Mayor is chair, he or she may vote only to break a tie vote. If a member is chair, the member votes as a member, but cannot vote again to break a tie. If the County Mayor is not chair, he or she may veto most resolutions of the county legislative body, but this veto may be overridden by a majority vote. The majority vote that is required for this and the passage of resolutions or other measures is a majority of the entire actual membership of the county legislative body, and not a majority of the quorum, nor a majority of the authorized membership.

Another important function of the county legislative body is its role in electing county officers when there is a vacancy in an elected county office. The person elected by the county legislative body generally serves in the office until a successor is elected. When filling a vacancy in a county office, the county legislative body must publish a notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county at least one week prior to the meeting in which the vote will be taken. This notice must state the time, place and date of the meeting and the office to be filled. Also, members of the county legislative body must have at least 10 days' notice. The legislative body holds an open election to fill the vacancy and allows all citizens the privilege of offering as candidates.

OTHER DUTIES - It is important that members of the county legislative body be familiar with the applicable state and federal laws which may affect the county, its business and its employees. Also, the county legislative body members should have a basic understanding of potential liability, both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.



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