Sheriff and Tax Collector Offices Split in Two Arkansas Counties
Fewer Arkansas counties will have their elected sheriffs also working as county tax collector as a result of new laws taking effect Aug. 1.
Arkansas legislators passed Act 12 and Act 447 separating the role of sheriff in Hempstead and Ouachita counties from their offices of tax collector. Voters will see the offices split on their 2026 general election ballot, which is the next time the positions are up for election.
The sheriff will be a standalone position in both counties, although the role of tax collector will combine with county treasurer in Ouachita County.
Throughout English and early American history, sheriffs held a dual role of law enforcement and tax collector. Following that tradition, the Arkansas Constitution of 1874 puts the responsibility of collecting property taxes under the sheriff’s umbrella.
Larger, more populated or prosperous counties split the two responsibilities into separate elected positions.
Twenty-four of Arkansas’ 75 counties have a combined sheriff-tax collector job on the ballot, according to a recent analysis by the Public Policy Center. Patrol, jail operations, and local property tax collections fall to those elected to the role. The number of counties will decrease to 22 once the two new laws take effect at the end of the month.
When the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote about the combined elected role in 2011, the Association of Arkansas Counties reported there were 27 combined positions.
“In my opinion, it made sense at one time to have these offices combined,” Association of Arkansas Counties Director Chris Villines told the newspaper at the time. “But as each of these positions have grown more complex, it has become a strain to find candidates who have a history of both law enforcement and complex accounting.”
To be eligible for either position, or the combined role, you must be at least 18, registered to vote in the county, and have no past fraud or felony convictions. In 2016, Arkansas voters approved turning the two-year positions into four-year terms.
The Association of Arkansas Counties annual salary survey report shows the dual positions paying:
- $62,109 in Hempstead County, with 1/3 of the funds coming from the tax collector,
sheriff, and jail administration budgets to pay the salary.
- $59,199 in Ouachita County, with funds split between both offices to pay the full salary.
Other Blended County Roles
In 14 of the 75 Arkansas counties, voters choose only one person to carry out the duties of circuit clerk and county clerk.
The county clerk is responsible for issuing marriage licenses and voter registration cards in Arkansas, along with maintaining the official records of the Quorum Court. A circuit clerk maintains criminal, civil and juvenile court records, including the outcomes of past court cases. They oversee jury duty selection and record property transactions, such as deeds, mortgages, liens and professional licenses.
In another five counties, the county treasurer also doubles as the county tax collector. Ouachita County will be the sixth county in 2026.
The county treasurer is responsible for keeping the county’s financial records, including keeping Quorum Court members up to date on the county’s financial status through income and expense reports each month. This elected official receives all property and sales tax dollars, and sends schools, cities and other entities their share of countywide taxes.
What Counties Have Combined Elected Offices?
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Want to know more?
Visit our Local Offices website to learn more about the duties, eligibility requirements, and salaries of Arkansas’ local elected officials at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/business-communities/voter-education/local-offices.aspx