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Lisbon terminates Sussex library agreement

 Village of Sussex - As expected, the Lisbon Town Board unanimously agreed tonight to terminate at the end of the year the joint municipal agreement with the Village of Sussex that funds most of the operations of the Pauline Haass Library.

The town contributes about $420,000 annually to the library's approximately $1.2 million budget and the village contributes another approximately $460,000.

The town and village have been attempting to agree on a new funding formula during nearly four years of negotiations that were side tracked when the Library Board decided to sue the town over control of 65 acres of farm land donated to the town for library purposes by Pauline Haass.

The library is not expected to close when the funding agreement expires.  Sussex village officials have vowed to take over the library and maintain it at existing service levels.

Town residents will be able to continue to use the library, and other Waukesha County library facilities, but will  have to pay a county library tax that is estimated to be about 26 cents $100,000 assessed valuation.

Nearly two dozen town residents attended the meeting tonight where the town board  discussed for nealry an  hour with constituents a resolution terminating the agreement.

Nine residents spoke in favoring of continuing negotiations for a new funding agreement, and five residents spoke against seeking a new agreement.

Residents supporting a new agreement expressed concern that  services would have to be reduced if the town did not continue to help fund the library. They also expressed concern that town residents would lose the advantage of having a community library.

Those speaking agaisnt renewing the agreement said the town's representatives have little influence on the Library Board's decisions and the library spends too much money.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke says the town was devoting about 12 percent of its total budget to library expenses while most other communities in the county spend about 6 to 8 percent on library services.

Supervisor Hannah Heinritz suggested the town and village have differening philosphies regarding governmnent spending and Supervisor Steve Panten said the Library Board was spending too much money on salary increases and new programs.

Supervisor Joe Osterman said negotiators for the town and village had reached a tenative agreement on a new funding formula that was squelched when the Library Board decided to sue the town over the farm land.

"I don't think we should be funding someone who is suing us and making us spend money to pay half of their legal fees," Osterman said.

Since Lisbon contributes to the operating funds of the library, Lisbon taxpayers are paying Library lawyers.

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