— ANNETTA — Discussion at a public hearing Tuesday as well as the lack of action at a board meeting afterward made it crystal clear that Emergency Services District No. 3 will not move forward with a petition requesting that it annex a portion of Aledo’s fire district already annexed by ESD No. 1.
Exactly how ESD No. 3 might do this has been a puzzling question since May 14.
That’s the date the Hudson Oaks-based ESD accepted an annexation petition from Annetta-area residents inside the Aledo Fire District, who submitted it three days after a majority vote added their properties to Springtown-based ESD No. 1.
When they accepted the 68-signature petition, ESD No. 3 also set June 18 as a public hearing date on the issue.
“If they don’t act [on the petition after the hearing], the way the law is written, it just goes away,” ESD No. 3 Fire Chief Pat English explained.
At the brief and sparsely-attended hearing, Jerry Brooks, vice president of ESD No. 3, began by reading a notice posted on the door of Annetta City Hall aloud.
He stated that many of the petition’s signatures — which included those of Annetta Mayor Bruce Pinckard, Annetta North Mayor Rob Watson and Annetta South Mayor Gerhard Kleinschmidt — were collected before the successful May 11 election.
ESD No. 3 accepted the petition, Brooks said, because the May 11 election had not yet been certified, and its results were in question because residents of the fire district rejected one of the two propositions on the ballot, refusing to accept ESD No. 1’s debt.
“Since the time the public hearing was ordered our attorney has advised us the petition accepted on May 14 cannot be acted upon since the area in question is already part of ESD No. 1,” he read. “However, since a public hearing has been ordered, it must take place as scheduled.
“The election was certified and ESD No. 1 has annexed that property,” he summed up. “So as it is right now, ESD No. 3 effectively has no dog in this hunt.”
“Why, if the majority has already decided on it being in ESD No. 1, would we be continuing with this?” a woman who misunderstood the dialogue, asked.
“We’re not continuing,” ESD No. 3 attorney Jim Eggleston said. “We’re stopping tonight. ESD No. 3 doesn’t have any legal standing to challenge that election. The ESD is not a citizen of that territory. We don’t have legal authority over there.
“So we can’t file any lawsuits or do any injunctions or anything. ESD 3 can only stand by. It’s up to the citizens of those cities to fight that fight.
“Well, is anybody [going to challenge the election],” the woman continued. “It seems kind of dumb to me being as a majority voted to do it that way.”
“The only way I can answer your question is that we were bound by law to have a hearing on a petition that we took before the election was certified,” Brooks responded.
“It’s kind of a dead duck in West Texan [lingo], then?” the woman said. “OK, I’m out of here.”
Another woman said she would just as soon send her money to Springtown, “so just leave it as it is.”
The hearing was adjourned in about 10 minutes.