After a pair of special meetings, both with split votes, the Gering City Council passed the ordinance to annex around 45 tracts of land into city limits this week.
The council went into the week with a passage of the first reading of the ordinance at a Nov. 8 meeting, which had a 5-4 vote thanks to Mayor Tony Kaufman’s tie-breaking vote.
A Nov. 15 special meeting saw a similar outcome. With no discussion, the vote went 4-3 in the absence of council member Pam O’Neal. According to city code, Kaufman can cast a vote when it would “create a number of votes equal to a majority of the number of members elected to the Council.” Kaufman again cast his vote in favor of the annexation ordinance, and thus passed the second reading 5-3.
A Nov. 16 special meeting was the same, passing the third reading of the ordinance, as well as officially passing it into law, with a 5-4 vote, Kaufman once again being the deciding vote.
The special meetings were needed to move the annexation forward in time for a new map of city limits and the wards to be drawn up, labeled and certified by year end, which is the deadline for ward maps for the primary elections coming up in May.
“Those (maps) have to go through council as well. It takes time to put them together,” city engineer Annie Folck said. “…Originally we thought the timeline was OK, but then it got tabled at that first (Oct. 25) meeting, so it got pushed back.”
With the ordinance officially passed, the annexation is complete, and the next step will be to draw up the maps.
“This is the end of the annexation process. That’s over and done,” Folck said. “The next thing we’re going to have to bring before council is the ward map. … We’d like to have that at our first regular meeting in December.”