Helena-West Helena Might Not Be Able to Make Payroll This Week

Dispiriting, but maybe not unexpected, news out of beleaguered Delta outpost Helena-West Helena today, where city leaders fear they won't be able to make payroll this week.

From the city's Daily World newspaper today:

Helena-West Helena City Clerk Sandi Ramsey sent out an e-mail alert Tuesday that the city may have difficulty meeting payroll that is due this coming Friday.

“Payroll is due this Friday, and as of today (Tuesday) I do not have finances to cover it,” stated Ramsey in the e-mail. It is IMPERATIVE that the employees receive their checks. It is quite possible that elected officials (all of us) will not be paid on Friday if I cannot find enough money. ..."

In spite of a sales tax, Ramsey says there's simply not enough money coming in to cover expenses. Ramsey tells the paper she's trying to find other ways to cover payroll, but those methods also add to the city's debt.

The city's woes have been well documented. Since the 1980s, it's seen a steady stream of factory closings and job losses and an exodus of residents who could afford to move. In their wake, they left blighted buildings, a countywide poverty rate above 32 percent and police corruption that allowed a drug culture to operate with impunity.

Still, Arkansas Business noted some signs of hope last year, in this story by Kate Knable, which looked at several nonprofit organizations that have set up shop to help the Phillips County seat combat decline.

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