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Plagued by High Lawsuit Costs, Town Will Ask Its Residents for More Money

Posted Jul 23, 2012 5:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The town of Gold Bar, Wash., will ask its nearly 2,100 citizens in a ballot referendum this fall whether they will be willing to pony up some extra money to help pay legal bills.

The residents will be asked if they would pay a one-time levy amounting to $100 to $150 a home to help offset the costs of recall efforts and public records lawsuits, Reuters reports. The money will be used to help pay legal fees expected to balloon to about $90,000 this year, about a sixth of the town's general fund. HeraldNet also has a story.

In a meeting last Tuesday, the city council opted to ask its residents for more money rather than seek disincorporation. Since 2009, the city has defended itself against six lawsuits, five of them brought at least partly by lawyer Anne Block, a Gold Bar resident, the Monroe Monitor reports. Block has also launched four out of five recall efforts, the Monitor says.

Block told Reuters she is not giving up in her quest for open records. "It's safe to assume that I have no plans to throw in the towel," she said.

A Seattle Times story published earlier this year says Block is a Massachusetts native who moved to Gold Bar in 2006 after law school. According to the report, Block began going to city council meetings and advised then-Mayor Crystal Hill she should get a babysitter rather than bring her children to the sessions. Later, Block accused Hill of a wide range of misconduct, airing the allegations on her blog.

Hill resigned before her term ended and moved out of town in 2009, citing a campaign of relentless email harassment containing false charges by an unknown person. She said none of the allegations are true.

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