After promising the council he would not veto their one month appropriation, Helena-West Helena Mayor Arnell Willis broke his word and vetoed the budget and shut down the City on this morning.
Searching for ways to justify his prevarication, Willis said in his press release that the budget was illegal because it was for one month. In actuality, the resolution was a 12-month budget with a one-month appropriation.
Alderman Marvin Jarrett, who sponsored the budget passed by the council last night by a vote of 6-4. He points out that the section of the code Willis cites 14-58-201 does not support the claim he makes. He points out 14-58-202 which states "on, or before February 1 of each year, the governing body shall adopt a budget for the operation of the city." Jarrett said, "Resolution 4-2011 satisfied Arkansas Code Annotated 14-58-202."
Also, in a move that some believe is a retaliation for last night's council action to pass Willis's budget, which included a 56% pay raise for Willis, Willis fired City employees John Huff, Belinda Covington, Felicia Ross, Zellie Word, Clanecia Jackson, Leroy Parker and Tracey Davis.
The council is set to meet tonight at 6 pm.