Legal, financial woes could force Gold Bar to call it quits

Legal, financial woes could force Gold Bar to call it quits
GOLD BAR, Wash. -- Gold Bar city leaders say lawsuits and attorney fees are driving their budget into the red, and they say the city may soon have to call it quits.

The city was in court again on Friday, fighting a challenge to a closed-door meeting. The city won this battle, but appeals are likely.

"I tell people, 'We are going broke winning lawsuits,'" said Gold Bar Mayor Joe Beavers.

This year alone, the city will spend $90,000 -- about 20 percent of its budget -- fighting records requests and procedural challenges.

"We've got to do something," said city historian Glenrose Williams. "There's no money left to survive on. I mean the way the money's going out for legal fees."

Williams is a fire commissioner, a member of the library board and a city historian. She can't believe after 102 years of history, the next picture in her album might be a closed sign on the doors at City Hall.

"I'd be devastated," she said.

City officials say they're giving residents a choice: They can either approve a property tax increase or disappear as a city.

So far, the reaction has been mixed.

"I don't go for increasing taxes," said resident "Smiling" Jack Lewis. "Period."

Many residents blame the city leaders for the financial mess.

"That would be a shame and I'd hate to see it happen, but they brought in on themselves," said resident Noel Frederick, who's suing the city. "The mayor and council have perpetuated this. They are the ones who won't turn over the records."

But city leaders say some of those records are extremely personal. They say they'll fight on, but they need new taxes to pay the bills.

One member of the Gold Bar City Council, Elizabeth La Zella, suggested the city could just start editing records to protect confidential material before turning them over.