PRESTONSBURG - The proposed annexation of Highlands Regional Medical Center and the Consolidated Health Systems properties on Route 321 prompted discussion at a city council meeting Monday, as well as an attempt to stop it.
Council member Don Willis, an employee of the hospital, presented a motion under the "new business" section of the agenda to request and hold the first official reading of an ordinance he constructed to "repeal and rescind" any authorization the city has to annex the properties.
Willis read the ordinance into the meeting minutes, which stated that the previous ordinance pertaining to the annexation attempt be declared null and void. The annexation, Willis said, is not in the best interest of the residents of Prestonsburg.
City attorney Jimmy Webb called Willis' attempt "premature" and "out of the ordinary" because the first ordinance is not yet in effect.
Council members voted to accept the annexation proposal of that ordinance on April 11 (with Willis, along with Danny Hamilton and Kay Ross, voting against it), but the official annexation will not be complete until another ordinance is drafted, adopted by the council and published. The second ordinance to finalize the annexation cannot be drafted until 60 days after the council's acceptance of the first ordinance, Webb said. Residents have until the end of that waiting period, Mayor Jerry Fannin said, to petition the city to place the annexation on the ballot.
"You can't repeal something that is not in effect at this time," Webb said.
Council members also said that an ordinance must be listed on the agenda individually, and that it cannot be introduced by a motion under the "new business" category.
Council member Gorman Collins asked if holding an official reading of Willis' ordinance would "matter" and Webb responded by saying that there is a procedure to disenfranchise ordinances, but that he didn't know all the details surrounding the process.
Mayor Jerry Fannin asked Webb to investigate the matter. His response was later supported by a motion made by council member Donna Wells, who asked the council to table the matter until Webb could provide more information.