Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Illegal Exaction Lawsuit Filed; Seeking Funds Spent Since February 1 Be Refunded to Taxpayers

HELENA-WEST HELENA- In a potentially explosive legal move, taxpayers Leroy Parker and Derrick Turner have filed a lawsuit against the City of Helena-West Helena's elected officials in both their official and individual capacities alleging that all funds spent since February 1 are illegal exactions since the city has not enacted a budget.

Mayor Arnell Willis
Parker and Turner filed the lawsuit on behalf of all taxpayers and are represented by Attorneys Andre Valley, Robert Kinchen and Dion Wilson.  The suit alleges that the City of Helena-West Helena failed to enact a budget by the February 1 deadline required by state law.  In the absence of a budget, state law requires the Mayor to shut down the city.  Instead, Mayor Arnell Willis elected to declare an emergency and operate the city anyway.

The plaintiffs argue that state law gave Willis the following options, sign the budget passed by 6-4 votes of the City Council or shut the city down until such time as the council passed a budget he didn't deem worthy of a veto.  They further allege that all funds being spent by the city are being done illegally and that every cent spent since the February 1 deadline should be refunded to the taxpayers and should be done so out of public funds and the private pockets of the elected officials responsible for the illegal expenditures.

Alderman Jay Hollowell
Efforts to override Willis's veto have been attempted, but Alderman Jay Hollowell has managed to lead a coalition of four alderman to keep an override of the vetoes from being successful.  Following Hollowell are Joe St. Columbia, Daniel Strickland, and Eddie Clark.

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