Waukesha - A Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge has ordered the Village of Sussex and the Town of Lisbon to begin negotiations over how the two municipalities will divide assets controlled by the Pauline Haass Library Board which is being dissolved at the end of the year.
Judge James R. Kieffer also issued a temporary restraining order that is intended to control how the library board spends the approximately $900,000 it receives in tax revenues from the two municipalities as well as cash reserves included in the library's approximately $1.1 million budget. The order does not effect monies the library board receives from donations and state and county funds.
Kieffer instructed the lawyers for the library board and the two municipalities to "immediately" contact retired Judge Patrick Snyder who will serve as a mediator in the court ordered negotiations that involve the town, village and library board.
Kieffer postponed for 60 days a pre trial conference that had been scheduled for October 20 in preparation for a civil trial in a dispute between the library board and the Town of Lisbon over who should have "custody and control" over about 65 acres of land donated to the town for library purposes by the late Pauline Haass.
Several times during the more than one hour hearing Wednesday morning Kieffer questioned the wisdom of taxpayers dollars being spent on legal battles involving a library board that will no longer exist after Dec. 31.
"There is no question that this library board will go out of existence in four months and four days. The only question is how the board's assets will be divided," Kieffer said.
Kieffer said one of the reasons he was issuing the injunction was to make sure that the library board did not spend the assets before the negotiations between the parties began.
Earlier this year, the Town of Lisbon voted to terminate the joint municipal agreement that created the library 27 years ago. The Village of Sussex intends to take over library operations next year but will have to appoint a new library board.
Village of Sussex officials have refused to negotiate with Town of Lisbon officials over settling the law suits and dividing the library's assets because Sussex officials have claimed that according to state law the library has sole authority over those assets.
However, Kieffer ruled that the library board existed as a result of the agreement between the two municipalities and therefore the village must be part of the of out of court negotiations.