By: Sarah Snyder
BIG SPRING - It's been a hot topic for months that's now headed to a courtroom. On Monday night, several people in Big Spring made a decision to go up against the City Council. They're even bringing in watchdog groups from as far away as Virginia.
On Monday night, the Concerned Citizens Council met at the Howard County Library and voted to file a lawsuit against the City of Big Spring for what they call an illegal meeting. They claim city leaders used an emergency meeting about valuations to dismiss their petition - calling for an election. This all goes back to an issue that dominated City Council meetings in the summer. The City decided to use about $4 million to pay for a new swimming facility, but the Concerned Citizens Council wanted people in Big Spring to vote on it since it's such a costly project.
"We as citizens face an attack on our freedoms, our liberties, and our rights by our government on a daily basis from the federal level on down," Shannon Thomason with the Big Spring Concerned Citizens Council, said. "We need to hang on to the rights we've got."
So they circulated a petition and turned it in with one signature, and before the 20 day time span was up, the Concerned Citizens Council says it came up at a City emergency meeting about their valuations.
"If you submit a petition, win, lose or draw, the City Council has to act on that within 20 days. If they don't act on it, it's an automatic tax rollback election," Thomason said. "By scheduling the emergency meeting, the City was attempting to keep that from happening."
Now the Concerned Citizens Council is deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit. On Monday night there were quite a few mixed opinions on whether or not to file against the City. But all in all, this organization says they just want to be able to vote.
"Right now, I feel like they tried to steal an election from us," Thomason said. "I will fight them tooth and nail to get it back from them."
Two members of a Virginia-based foundation flew in to help out. They told NewsWest 9 after reading a story on NewsWest9.com, they decided to step in.
"We think this is an example of something that could go wider throughout the state," Brandon Holmes with the Citizens in Charge Foundation in Virginia, said. "If they can get away with crushing petition rights here, other cities and other governments can see that they can get away with crushing petition rights in other parts of the state."
NewsWest 9 spoke with Mayor Russ McEwen on Monday and he said the City will wait to respond until the Concerned Citizens Council officially files a lawsuit. NewsWest 9 will continue to follow all the developments.