The Williamsburg City Council voted Monday evening that it wants to be part of national litigation against some pharmaceutical-related companies in regards to the opioid crisis.
During its monthly meeting Monday evening, the council met in executive session for about 25 minutes before returning to regular session and voting unanimously to remain in the litigation.
“The council knows that the opioid crisis was bad in our town. Everybody in this town knows how bad it is. If we can get involved in something that might attack the problem – I am going to stop short of saying solve the problem but if you can wake up big corporations and say, ‘you were part of the reason it got so bad,’ – then I think we ought to be involved,” Mayor Roddy Harrison explained after the meeting.
Monday’s action was the first official action that the city council has taken to be part of the lawsuit. The city could potentially receive some money if the case is settled.
Other local entities in Corbin and London, and the Whitley County Fiscal Court are also involved in this litigation, Harrison added.
Between 2013 and the middle of 2017, more than 21 million doses of prescription opioids, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, tramadol and oxymorphone, were dispensed in Whitley County, which has a population of about 36,000 people.
This is more than 584 doses of prescription opioids for every man, woman and child in Whitley County. During this same time period, more than 1.9 million doses of medications, which are often used as overdose antidotes, such as naloxone, have been dispensed in Whitley County. This averages out to 54 doses per person.
The city council also heard a request Monday from John Street resident Kelly Hampton regarding repair of her driveway.
Hampton said that in April, the city did work on her property to repair a waterline leak, and cut a 6’ x 7’ section of concrete from her driveway.
Afterwards, the city blacktopped that portion of driveway rather than replacing it with concrete.
Harrison said that Hampton’s driveway is on a list of projects city maintenance workers have, and that concrete would be put back down to replace that portion of the driveway.
“As long as it get repaired that is fine,” Hampton replied.
In other business, the council:
• Discussed delays in getting some new businesses open, which Harrison said have largely been due to state building inspections.
One business had been shooting for an Oct. 26 opening, and another had hoped to open this week, but neither is happening now, Harrison said.
“I feel like they (local businesses) are doing the right things. They are going through the motions. They are sending in the money. They are sending in the permits. They are sending in the applications. There is a breakdown somewhere. It may be the people in Frankfort are overworked,” Harrison said.
“We have had some issues with inspectors with a lot of places. I have some calls into Frankfort about my concerns with that,” Harrison added.
• Discussed what action the city is taking against owners of blighted business properties in Williamsburg.
Councilwoman Erica Harris noted that efforts are being made by the Williamsburg Historic Preservation Commission to help revitalize downtown, and she asked what “teeth” is being placed in efforts regarding getting blighted commercial property owners to either fix their properties or to sell those properties to someone that will fix them.
Harrison said the city has begun sending letters to owners of some of those blighted commercial properties that are similar to letters, which are sent to private property owners.
“Several have received their letter. They have a certain amount of time to do something with their building. After that we will send out another notice and fines,” Harrison responded adding that after this Williamsburg City Attorney Kim Frost gets involved.
If owners won’t fix buildings or pay their fines, Harrison said that the city can eventually file suit asking for the buildings to be sold at a Master Commissioner’s auction in order to recoup the fines.
He added that part of the problem of getting downtown revitalized are some property owners either just sit on properties, or they want too much money for the property.
“There are interested parties that come through town. They talk to them (property owners). They (interested parties) love the town, and then the deal falls through,” Harrison noted. “I know that is going to make a lot of people mad, but dog gone it, it is the truth.”