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Anmoore officials give positive outlook on financial situation

by Paul Darst

STAFF WRITER

A sea of financial problems still surrounds Anmoore, but town officials say they do not need to be rescued yet.

Mayor Denny Lamm and town Council members met Thursday night with the Harrison County Commission to discuss the town's financial troubles. But some residents who attended said they were hearing two different stories.

"I think it's a good gesture on your part to meet with us," Lamm said. "But I don't think we need rescued yet."

Commissioners requested the meeting with Anmoore officials to discuss financial difficulties that have plagued the town. But Anmoore officials told commissioners they can handle the problems.

"I think we are able on our own power to handle this," Lamm told the Commission. "It helps that we know you'll be there for us whenever we need you."

Commissioners liked what they heard.

"We heard good news," Commission President Roger Diaz said after the meeting. "The mayor indicated that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Problems with water bill collections, unpaid federal withholdings, high legal expenses and other matters have decreased the town's funds. Commissioners were concerned because, if Anmoore cannot operate services such as water, police and fire, the county might be forced to take over those responsibilities.

One long-time Anmoore resident agreed that the town can solve its problems, but said the entire community needs to band together.

"I've talked to a lot of people about this," said Harry Hathway, who has lived in Anmoore for 70 years.

"The citizens are more than willing to help, but there are a few citizens who insist on nitpicking. If the Council and the mayor continue to work, we will come out of this."

But the good news about Anmoore's financial situation was news to one other resident.

"What we're hearing now is 180 degrees different from what we have been hearing at Council meetings," said Homer H. Lohr. "(At those meetings) we've been hearing about things like bankruptcy. Now you're saying you can pull out of it yourselves. You're telling two different stories."

Commissioners offered the county's help if Anmoore cannot solve its problems. The Commission helps other small towns across the county with such things as grant writing and other services, Diaz said.

In other action, commissioners had a first discussion about the county's vital services levy, which expires on June 30, 2001. Commissioners agreed to put the issue on the 2000 primary ballot.

That way, if it fails, the county will have another chance to put it on the ballot during the fall general election.

Commissioners Diaz, Thomas Keeley and Beth Taylor agreed that the levy rate should remain the same.

"The people are taxed enough," Taylor said. "I don't favor passing anything else along to them."

Although Keeley favors keeping the rate the same, he does want to discuss funding other programs with the $1.4 million generated by the levy.

"I'm not saying we should ask for more money," Keeley said. "I'm just saying we could do some reshuffling."

Commissioners plan to have the final levy call ready by early February.

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