LITTLE ROCK — A legislative committee on Friday approved a state senator’s request for a special legislative audit of certain aspects of the Arkansas Municipal League, including staff members’ pay.

LITTLE ROCK — A legislative committee on Friday approved a state senator’s request for a special legislative audit of certain aspects of the Arkansas Municipal League, including staff members’ pay.


The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee approved the request from Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, a day after its Executive Committee voted to recommend approval.


In addition to staff members’ pay, the special audit will review the sources of the league’s funds and how they are spent; who owns the league’s assets; and participation in any public retirement system.


"There’s been more questions (about the league) coming today from people around the state," Sample said in an interview Friday. "The specifics I asked for, that’s what they’re specifically going to do, but if somebody else makes a request for the other ones, I guess they’ll do that too."


Sample said that, like a state agency, the Municipal League receives taxpayer dollars and participates in the Arkansas Public Employees’ Retirement System, but it does not believe it should be subject to the transparency and oversight that applies to state agencies.


"(They say), ‘Well, we’re not a real agency, we’re a quasi agency.’ I don’t know what that ‘quasi’ means," he said.


Don Zimmerman, the Municipal League’s executive director, said Friday the league receives only about $230,000 or $240,000 a year in dues from cities, with most of its money coming from fees for the many programs it offers.


The league’s participation in APERS was authorized by the Legislature, Zimmerman said. He said the league is subject to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and that it pays for annual audits — including one that was just completed — and make the audit reports available to everyone. It also has told the Legislature it will consent to any legislative audits, he said.


"I don’t know how much more transparent you could be than we are," he said.


Sample said he also has questions about Zimmerman’s pay. He said the league has agreed to pay Zimmerman 0.85 percent of its reserves, which he said total between $60 million and $70 million, so Zimmerman’s pay would be over $500,000.


"Mr. Zimmerman’s compensation is equal to what we pay some of the doctors over at (the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), and we have to compete on the world market to get those doctors," he said.


Zimmerman said he is authorized to receive more than $500,000, but he expects to accept between $350,000 and $400,000, as he did the previous year. He said that if the league ever used up all of its reserves, his pay would be zero.


"If (Sample) thinks I make too much money, he’s certainly welcome to come to my board and tell them that," Zimmerman said.