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Sussex village board will discuss library strategy

Aug. 11, 2014

Village of Sussex — Village trustees were expected to discuss during a closed session of the Village Board Tuesday night various strategies to deal with the legal entanglements that have become wrapped around the Pauline Haass Library, which the village will take over at the beginning of next year.

The meeting was scheduled to take place after Sussex Sun publications deadlines.

Lisbon town board members have notified the village that the town is terminating the joint funding and operations agreement between the two municipalities that has governed library operations for 27 years at the end of the year .

The inability of the two municipalities to reach an agreement on a new funding formula for the library and the Library Board filing a lawsuit against the town prompted the town board to decide to terminate the agreement, according to town officials.

Town officials contend that they are entitled to half of the library's assets and have asked the village to begin negotiations over how those assets will be divided. Village officials do not believe the town is entitled to assets since the town opted out of the agreement and the village plans to continue library operations.

"Rather than spend countless taxpayers dollars on attorneys, I wanted to suggest that perhaps both boards form committee to address the dissolution and if an agreement cannot be reached, the Village and Town agree to mediation," Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said in a July 17 letter to Village President Greg Goetz.

In addition, there are multiple pending legal actions.

The Library Board has filed a lawsuit against the town seeking "custody and control" of about 65 acres of farm land that was donated by the late Pauline Haass to the town to be used for town purposes.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge James R. Kieffer has asked the parties engage in out of court mediation before a trial scheduled for October. The town has asked the judge to order the village to participate in the mediation. The village, so far, has refused.

Village officials have argued since, according to state law, the library board has sole jurisdiction over its assets, the village cannot be engaged in negotiations between the Library Board and the town relating to the Haass farm land.

The town has filed a countersuit against the Library Board seeking a court injunction that would define and limit how the library board spends money between now and the end of the year.

The status of these lawsuits and legal maneuvers after Jan. 1 is uncertain. The joint municipal library will no longer exist but the library will continue to operate under village control. The Village Board will appoint a majority of the members of a new library board.

Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said he expected the trustees to discuss several different options and strategies but he declined to identify what some of them might be.

"I don't want to discuss the details of strategies that will be discussed in a closed session," he said.

State law allows municipal boards to meet in closed session to private discuss strategies that they may use in pending or probable litigation.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Spring Seedling Sale & Greenhouse Open House: 10 a.m. May 23, NuGenesis Farm, N68 W33208 County Road K, Oconomowoc. A variety of organic veggie and herb seedlings to plant in your home or community garden this spring will be for sale. All plant sale profits will benefit the Giving Garden initiative.

Memorial Honor Celebration: 8 a.m. May 23, Wisconsin Harley-Davidson, 1280 Blue Ribbon Drive, Oconomowoc. Daylong event begins with reveille and breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by color guard and the national anthem. The event also includes military and veterans organizations, interactive displays and vehicles, food and beverages and entertainment. Evening showing of “Honor Flight: One Last Mission.” on a big, outdoor screen.

"Small Space Container Gardens" Seminar: 11 a.m. May 23, Ebert’s Greenhouse Village, W1795 Fox Road, Ixonia. Free educational seminar by gardening expert Melinda Myers. Melinda, who will also be available to answer gardening questions. Enter to win a $500 Ebert’s shopping spree with Melinda.

Tyke Hike: 10 a.m. May 23, Lapham Peak State Park, W329 N846, Delafield. Children and their families will hike with a guide and a representative of the Delafield Library will share books, songs and a craft to enhance the experience. Meet at the Lapham Peak Tower. State park sticker is required.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

All weekend happenings

 

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