The City of Helena West Helena has been shuttered in what is a political budgetary dispute. Six out of ten city council members have, on three occasions, voted to pass a legal operating budget. The mayor, exercising lawful authority, has vetoed each of those budgets. He has, instead of shutting the city down completely, declared a self-created emergency and declared his right to operate his city until a budget he likes is passed.
Legally speaking, the mayor can hold out until he gets a budget he likes. However, for him to take that approach and be lawful, he must shutdown all government operations until the budget is passed. He cannot have his cake and eat it too.
Interestingly, Marvin Jarrett, Alderman for Ward 5, has disseminated a listing of the checks written since the city was shutdown by the mayor's veto of the 2011 Budget. Granted, most of these checks are for city employees and their previously earned payroll, this sum is still a staggering $256,630.73. These expenditures, without the lawful authorization by the city council, are illegal and subject to a possible Article 16 Section 13 Action for Illegal Exaction(Constitution of the State of Arkansas). Article 16 Section 13 Illegal Exaction lawsuits are brought to remedy unlawful spending of taxpayer dollars.
Here's a listing of the checks written by the mayor during the shut down:
Bank Register February 1-7, 2011