Justices of the Peace (JPs) are somewhat similar to City Council Members, but for County Government. JPs serve on the Quorum Court, which is the county's legislative branch. JPs serve two-year terms. They control all spending and revenue for the county.
Washington County is divided into 15 districts of roughly equal population. Each district elects its own JP to serve on the Quorum Court. District 12 includes Downtown and Southeast Fayetteville.
Some of the most important duties and powers of the Quorum Court include:
- Setting an annual budget for the entire county government
- Levying county taxes
- Appropriating public funds for county expenses
- Setting reserves
- Setting the number and compensation of county employees and county officers
- Officiating civil marriage ceremonies
The Quorum Court may consider ordinances and resolutions related to:
- Maintenance and improvement of County Roads and Bridges
- County buildings, vehicles, and other property
- The County Jail/Detention Center
- The budgets of the Courts and Criminal Justice System
- Land Use issues, including zoning and permits
- Funding for various departments and services, including:
- Emergency Management
- Animal Shelter
There is a full list of departments and services on the Washington County website.
The Quorum Court is required to meet monthly. The County Judge, who heads the executive branch, chairs the meeting. The Judge has no vote but can veto the Quorum Court’s decisions. The Quorum Court can overturn the Judge’s veto with a ⅗ vote (60%) of the entire membership, or a vote of 9 of 15 JPs.
Justices are paid per meeting and do not receive a general salary. The pay scale is set by the Arkansas General Assembly.
Each of the 75 counties in Arkansas is governed by a Quorum Court. They are described in Article 7 of the Arkansas Consitution. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas also has information about the history of Quorum Courts in Arkansas.