Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

November 13, 2013

Health Department may have violated Open Meeting Law

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Nov. 13, 2013 — Carter County Attorney Patrick Flannery said Thursday that a special meeting held by the Carter County Board of Health last week may have violated open meeting law.

In his letter to Interim Director Paula Thornsberry, Flannery said he had received numerous calls concerning the closing of the Olive Hill branch of the Health District, which was decided during Monday night's special meeting.

“To my knowledge and based on the information I have received there was no public notice of this special meeting,” Flannery stated. “If proper notice was not given in accordance with state law this meeting was in violation of the state's Open Meetings law.”

It seems that very few persons were aware of Monday night’s special meeting or that closing the Olive Hill branch was being considered.

Interim Director Paula Thornberry told the Journal-Times on Wednesday that notices regarding the special meeting had not been sent to the news media.

“The meeting was called on such short notice that the information was posted on a bulletin board here,” said Thornberry.

Kentucky Open Meetings Law requires that news outlets be notified at least 24 hours in advance of any meeting conducted by a public body.

The Little Sandy District Health Department is a public body because of its taxing authority.

“It is important for the board to reconsider this decision that impacts many individuals in Carter County,” Flannery said in his letter. “If, in fact, the Health Board did not send public notice of this meeting, it very well could be challenged in court by concerned citizens of Carter County.”

The next regular meeting of the Little Sandy District Board of Health is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the district office in Grayson. It is open to the public.

Carter County judge-executive Charles Wallace told the Journal-Times that he intends to vote to void action at last week's meeting.

“That budget we approved a few months ago had some propped up numbers,” Wallace said. “Someone has falsified numbers, and if I have anything to say about it, the board will vote again on closing the Olive Hill department.”

A report of an audit completed in September is expected to be on the agenda during Wednesday's meeting, which should shed more light on a projected $400,000 shortfall expected by the Heath District.

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by calling 474-5101.