The first organized meeting for the public held by Moving Anthony Forward, attended by about 100 persons, was tense last night as leaders of MAF made clear they were unhappy with an informational meeting held the night before at Anthony Elementary. Bottom line: Anthony is divided over incorporation.
The first salvo was fired off by Mr. Frank Coppler, a Santa Fe attorney associated with the Anthony Water and Sanitation District, and author of a report in favor of incorporation presented in October to the Dona Ana County Commission. He began by accusing county assessor Gary Perez of using "scare tactics" the night before. Perez had calculated it would take a 12.7% increase in property taxes to reach a proposed budget of $200,000.
Perez, who was in the audience, strode to the podium to defend himself, saying he had made it clear (the article below shows his words to be true) municipal authorities might not impose any new property taxes at all. He simply assumed in a slide that Anthony would raise property taxes just as municipalities in Hatch, Mesilla, and Sunland Park have done. Coppler went on to assert that enough revenues could be generated to cover the budget from increases in gross receipts taxes, fines and fees, on citizens from Anthony and from that portion of the gross receipts tax that Anthony now sends to Santa Fe which would remain with the proposed municipality after incorporation. Thus, he argued, it was possible that municipal authorities might not raise property taxes.
The next flash point occurred when Victor Montoya, of MAF, accused the organizers of the meeting the night before of being "outsiders," not from Anthony, with an agenda. A woman immediately stood up, identified herself as Teresa Fisher, and said she had organized the meeting last night, she was from Anthony, and her only agenda was to provide information to the public about the incorporation process. Montoya repeated his accusation about outsiders, and about ten persons stood up and said they were at the meeting last night and all lived in Anthony. Montoya, irritated, said they had had their meeting the night before and had no business at this meeting. Another woman replied that she had come to find out more about incorporation and her understanding was that the meeting was public.
At the end of the meeting Betty Gonzalez scolded the organizers of MAF, complaining that with 19 days before the final vote this was the first public meeting held. "I had hoped," she said, that a majority of citizens would participate in the discussions about incorporation, and that the entire community would come together in a spirit of cooperation, but this will not be the case. Only a small minority of persons will determine the outcome of the election, she said.
Numerous testimonials in favor of incorporation were given. One particularly eloquent testimonial was given by Jose Garcia (no relation), who said his only special interest in favoring the incorporation was his children, who would benefit from this step to gain control over the future of the community.