Helena-West Helena Offers Help as Phillips County Government Shuts Down

HELENA-WEST HELENA, AR - Phillips County Judge Don Gentry says county government will shut down today and probably longer.

The county's Quorum Court has not passed a budget, which means about 80 county workers will be idled for the start of the new year.

Gentry said he expects the shutdown will continue at least through tomorrow.  He says that if enough members get back from vacation, there could be a special meeting if there are the six votes needed for passage.  Otherwise, the panel does not convene again until January 8.

Helena-West Helena Mayor James Valley has offered to use municipal workers to handle emergencies on county streets and other services.

Gentry says the Phillips County Sheriff's Dept. and the jail will remain open and won't be affected by the shutdown.

The Quorum Court is tied up over Gentry's proposed 2008 budget, having twice in December failed to pass the funding measure.  Members of the panel want to add $550,000 in spending for juvenile services, economic development and lawyers.  Some members say they were not included in development of the budget.

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