State Threatening to Withhold Funds from Helena-West Helena

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Monday is the deadline for the city of Helena-West Helena to provide all the financial records state auditors have been requesting for months, but the state might begin withholding them before then about $35,000 from the struggling east Arkansas town.

The state Legislative Audit Division has been trying to complete an audit of city records from 2006, the same year historic Helena merged with West Helena and the new city inherited record-keeping and budget problems from previous administrations.

Members of a legislative committee say the state should begin withholding half of the monthly turnback funds for Helena-West Helena because the city has failed to provide certain records despite a standing request for them.

Helena-West Helena Mayor James Valley says withholding money from the city would be "a serious blow."  Valley says city officials have provided numerous documents, but he learned only this week that there was a miscommunication about which documents the auditors wanted.  He said the records will be provided, but he did not know how long that would take.

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