09/29/12 — Pikeville to weigh plans for town hall

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Pikeville to weigh plans for town hall

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on September 29, 2012 11:58 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Residents of the town of Pikeville are being urged to attend Monday night's board meeting to participate in a discussion about what to do about a new, or a refurbished town hall.

At least some officials are urging them to come.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Pikeville Community Building.

A divided town board has different opinions about what should be done about the long-standing dilemma.

Three members of the board -- Mayor Pro Tem Todd Anderson and board members Lyman Galloway and Charles Hooks -- met twice last week in special session to discuss proposals regarding the town hall. A note asking residents to attend Monday's regularly scheduled meeting and to hear possible options for a permanent town hall was delivered along with residents' utility bills last week.

But Mayor Johnny Weaver and two other members of the town board -- Robert Hooks and Ward Kellum -- disagreed with the meetings held by the first three and did not attend either meeting, adding that the three board members did not have the legal right to discuss the issue in closed session.

The threesome did meet behind closed doors on Sept. 22 to discuss property acquisition. A required notice ran in The News-Argus on Wednesday, Sept. 12, noting that the meeting would involve discussion of the town hall. But it did not specifically say "acquisition of property." On Saturday, before the meeting began, the board members said the notice should have said the meeting would involve acquisition of property. The state Open Meetings Law says public bodies can meet in closed session to discuss property acquisition. Simply discussing an issue with the town hall does not constitute a reason for a closed session.

After Saturday's meeting, Anderson, Galloway and Charles Hooks announced they would hold a workshop last Monday to further discuss the town's options regarding a new town hall. State law requires a public body to give at least 48 hours public notice before holding a special meeting. No such public notice was given for last Monday's session.

The brouhaha started when the first three board members sent a letter to Weaver on Sept. 12, asking for him to convene a special meeting on Sept. 15 to talk about the future of the town hall. They noted that the town hall should be the only issue on the agenda.

Weaver replied to the town administrator, saying that the meeting should not be held since the stated purpose of the meeting did not comply with the necessary criteria for holding a closed session.

Town Administrator Kathie Fields replied to Weaver saying the meeting would be about acquisition of property and that, by law, it was legal.

Town Attorney Will Spicer, who did not attend the meetings, said later that Saturday's meeting was legal because a quorum was not necessary to simply discuss an issue, only to take action on an issue. A simple majority of members can call a meeting, he pointed out.

Spicer admitted that Monday's meeting was not legal because not enough notice was given.

Pikeville's board is made up of five commissioners and a mayor. The mayor technically votes only in case of a tie, which is rare since there are an odd number of members on the Pikeville board. A quorum, Spicer said, would require the attendance of at least four regular board members, or the mayor and three board members.