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Library History - Part 3 thru Oct 21, 2014

Library History - Part 1   Library History - Part 2   Library History - Part 4

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly

October 10, 2005, Last Revised 02/02/2015

Public Library Services for the Lisbon - Sussex Community

2006 - Present


Sale of Haass land won’t be on agenda Some want to hold onto Lisbon parcel because its worth may grow

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, March 16, 2006

Readability: >12 grade level (Lexile: 1320L)
Author: DAVE SHEELEY, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 

Lisbon — Supervisors won’t ask electors at the annual town meeting next month for permission to sell 65 acres of land which Pauline Haass donated to the town, an official said Wednesday.

Town Clerk Jeff Musche said that supervisors believe they shouldn’t make the request so soon after a November meeting when electors voted down a proposal to sell the former farmland at the southwest corner of Lake Five and Hickory roads.

The vote was 27-25.

The land sale could mean additional revenue for the town to use for library purposes. Town officials had proposed investing proceeds from the sale of the land, which has a value in excess of $1 million.

Interest earned from that investment would be used to help pay for the Pauline Haass Public Library’s cost, including debt from construction of the library on Main St. in Sussex. Lisbon and Sussex have an agreement to run the joint library district.

Land value to increase

Some town electors said it would be beneficial to hold on to the land because it will be worth more money in the future as land values in the town increase.

Although the land sale question won’t be on the agenda, residents at the April 11 meeting can call for an electorate vote to sell the land, Musche said.

Meanwhile, the Library Board has reviewed a new legal opinion on whether that board or the Town Board should control proceeds from the land bequest, according to Library Director Kathy Klager. Retired schoolteacher and Lisbon resident Haass bequeathed cash and the property to the town to create a library for residents. She died in 1985.

Library officials approved spending up to $4,000 last year to obtain the opinion in attempt to resolve a longstanding dispute on whether the Library Board or Town Board should control the proceeds.

Klager said the Library Board last month reviewed an opinion, prepared by Timothy Feeley, in a session closed to the public. She declined to discuss the opinion, which has been kept confidential. She referred questions about it to Feeley, who didn’t return calls seeking comment.

It’s the third time an attorney has prepared an opinion on the dispute. Previous opinions, formed by attorneys on behalf of the town and library, differ in their conclusions. The one prepared for the town says the donation’s proceeds should be controlled by the Town Board, while the one for the library says they should be controlled by the Library Board.

Klager said the Library Board currently doesn’t have a position on which entity should control the donation proceeds, but Musche said that for years the town has said the town is in control of the donation.

"I think it’s safe to say that it’s the town’s position that the status quo shouldn’t change," he said.

Copyright 2006, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

WAUKESHA COUNTY BRIEFING

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, March 24, 2006

Sussex — Officials at the local public library are planning to tweak the makeup of the Library Board after discovering they were violating state standards.

Kathy Klager, director of the Pauline Haass Public Library, said board members representing Sussex and Lisbon have been wrongly serving one-year terms. The state requires three-year terms for all board members, Klager said, so officials are working to make the correction.

Village and Town Board members have been serving just one-year terms because voters elect those representatives every two years, so a three-year Library Board appointment did not seem to make sense, Klager said.

The remaining five Library Board members are citizens appointed to three-year terms as required.

The issue was detected in a routine state compliance check recently.


Ruth Lembke feared that her farm would ‘get swallowed up in politics’ and become the site of a housing or commercial development. Before she died, she took steps to see that didn’t happen. Town won't have control of land Revision of will was triggered by differences over Haass property

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Sunday, April 9, 2006

Author: DAVE SHEELEY, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 

Lisbon — Being a city girl, Ruth Lembke would have chosen against moving to the country if her husband hadn’t already bought out his siblings’ shares of his family’s farm.

But after she was introduced to the property off Highway 164 in Lisbon, and the many cats that lived there, she came to enjoy the country lifestyle.

"She said she was really glad he did that because it was the best decision he made," her grandniece, Ruth Basting, said of Emil Lembke’s land purchase.

Retired schoolteacher Ruth Lembke grew into a caretaker of the critters on the more than 70 acres of farm and woodland, and strove to make sure its natural environs would be protected beyond her death.

That’s why years ago she willed the entire property to the town for a park or animal refuge.

But that plan changed just weeks before she died March 3 at the age of 95.

With a belief that the town was mishandling the bequest of Pauline Haass , Lembke decided against donating the property to the town, according to Basting, of Delafield, and instead left it to Basting, who pledges to keep the land natural.

"In my prior will I planned to leave the land to the Town of Lisbon," Lembke says in a revision to her will she finalized Jan. 30. "But I am now convinced that if I did, my wishes would not have been honored and that my land will be developed into an industrial park, retail development or a subdivision."

Development all around

Lembke’s effort to protect her land amid fears that it would be developed in the hands of the town is one example of a land issue in this rapidly developing area of northern Waukesha County — where commercial parks and subdivisions have sprung up on land once farmed.

Ellen Gennrich, president of the Waukesha Land Conservancy, says natural areas such as the Ruth Lembke property will become even more valued as development escalates throughout the county.

Stopping it from being developed, she said, is key to maintaining open spaces.

"That’s the ideal solution," Gennrich said.

Haass , a retired schoolteacher who died in 1985, bequeathed cash and 65 acres of former farmland at Lake Five and Hickory roads to the town to create a public library for residents.

The town struck an agreement with Sussex to launch a joint library district, which built a library on Main St. in Sussex in the mid-1990s.

Basting said Ruth Lembke, who was a member of the Friends of the Pauline Haass Public Library, believed the town would sell the Haass land and use proceeds from the sale for non-library purposes, contrary to the wishes of Haass .

That led Ruth Lembke to worry that the town wouldn’t fulfill her wishes that her property not be developed.

"She just didn’t want to take the chance that her wishes wouldn’t be followed," Basting said.

Ruth Lembke was fearful her property would "get swallowed up in politics" and become the site of a housing or commercial development if in the hands of the town, Basting said.

"Everything together got her thinking it wouldn’t be a good idea," Basting said.

Town planned a park

The Sussex Corporate Center sits on the east side of the Lembke land, and housing is directly south of it off Highway K. Development is planned for the north side of the property, north of Richmond Road, as well, according to the town.

Despite Lembke’s assertions, Town Clerk Jeffrey Musche said the town would have adhered to her will if it had maintained control of the land and would have banned development on the property.

In preliminary discussions, town officials had talked about setting aside the Lembke property for parkland, he said.

"We were going to maintain it as a park," Musche said.

In all the discussions he had with town representatives about the property, "never did one person indicate any intent not to fulfill her wishes," Musche said.

Musche acknowledged that Ruth Lembke had the prerogative to make any changes to her will. However, he said, he was surprised the town was not forewarned of the revision.

Meanwhile, Musche defended the town’s handling of the Pauline Haass land.

"Every nickel of the Haass estate has gone to fund the Pauline Haass (library)," he said.

In recent months the Haass estate has been at the center of a dispute library officials have attempted to straighten out.

Late last year the Library Board voted to obtain a new legal opinion on whether the Library Board or Town Board should control proceeds from the Haass bequest. Both boards obtained attorneys’ opinions in 1997, and those opinions had opposing viewpoints.

Both sides said they believe the money should be spent on the library. However, the dispute centers on which agency — the town or library — should be in control of proceeds from the Haass bequest.

‘Ahead of her time’

Ruth Craine Lembke, who was born May 13, 1910, was a teacher at Roosevelt School in Wauwatosa for most of her career.

She and Emil Lembke, who died in 1984, lived in Milwaukee but visited his family’s property on weekends, where they strolled the farm fields and watched the cows.

Ruth Lembke was active in many organizations. She volunteered at a food pantry in Sussex and was a member of the Wauwatosa Women’s Club. She also was a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol.

Eileen Collins of Milwaukee, a cousin of Ruth Lembke’s, said she was an adventurer who flew a plane when few women did.

"She was way ahead of her time. When she wanted to do something, she went ahead and did it," Collins said.

In retirement, the Lembkes moved to the Lisbon property permanently, and Ruth Lembke grew attached to the many cats, raccoons and deer there, leaving them food and drink in pans outside the farmhouse.

Cats inspired book

The cats were the main focus of the book she wrote, "Calico’s Country Cats," which was published in 1982.

She wrote: "Even though we spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on cats during the sixteen years we have been part of their community, every minute and every dollar has been worth it."

Basting remembered Lembke as a kind person who gave selflessly.

"She lived by that golden rule. She never said anything bad to anybody and never did anything bad to anybody," Basting said. "She did things without wanting anything back."

In her revised will, Lembke says Basting also wants to make sure her property doesn’t get developed.

"Ruth Ann Basting understands and shares my very strong desire to see my land remain in as much a natural state as possible," Ruth Lembke wrote.

Currently, Basting said, the portion of the property that’s farmland is leased to a farmer, who will be able to farm there as long as he wants. The entire parcel is assessed at $124,800.

However, she has yet to decide what to do with the land in future years.

"I want to make the right decision," she said.

Some options include creating soccer fields on the property or turning it over to a conservancy group to preserve, she said.

That second option is favorable to Gennrich.

"It does sound like a property that would be worth protecting," Gennrich said, adding that the county lists a portion of the land as an isolated natural resource area.

But whichever route Basting takes, she promises to do as Lembke’s will says.

"She knows I’ll do what she wants," she said. "I want to keep it natural, too, like she wanted it."

Copyright 2006, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

LAUREL WALKER IN MY OPINION - Couple stacks up among library backers

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Sunday, March 30, 2008
Author: LAUREL WALKER, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 

It takes stand-up people to move a community and its institutions forward.

People like Len and Jane Anhalt, longtime Lisbon residents whose example should encourage others to sit up, take notice and, perhaps, stand up, too.

For Len, 81, and Jane, 76, it’s payback time — in both money and fund-raising muscle — for the four decades they have enjoyed in the Lisbon-Sussex area.

The couple are cheerleaders for community giving of all kinds. But closest to their hearts is the cause of the local library, now within walking distance of the Sussex condo they moved into just last December.

I understand. Libraries inspire me, too, like the cheerful Pauline Haass Public Library on Main St. in Sussex, dressed up inside with terrific student artwork when I met the Anhalts there recently.

Jane Anhalt said her love affair with libraries started early in her hometown of Menasha — "as soon as I was old enough to walk to the library by myself. I used to fantasize I would read every book in the library, and I used to think I could do it."

I told her there’s still time.

She brought her growing young children to the library — back then, it was to the Menomonee Falls Public Library before the joint Lisbon-Sussex one was built.

Now she brings her grandchildren, and loves to tell the story of one granddaughter who, each time when checking out her books, would pose a question to Ralph Illick, the reference librarian. Every time, Illick could almost immediately put his finger on the answer, prompting the child to exclaim, "Grandma knows a man at the library who knows everything!"

Len Anhalt’s library appreciation dates back to 1946, when the Sheboygan native was fresh out of World War II service, a "naïve kid" who landed in Milwaukee, hoping to go to school on the GI bill.

"I didn’t have a pot to pee in and spent a lot of time at the library," he said. "The Milwaukee Public Library was my favorite haunt," not because he was an exceptional student, he said, but "just because it was a good place to learn and a good friendly place to be. I read a lot of stuff there."

He went on to become an engineer, eventually starting his own business out of his basement — the only time, Jane interjects, that he was home for supper on time. He and two partners started an engineering firm, now Graef Anhalt Schloemer & Associates, in 1961, a firm that went on to provide engineering services to such major projects as the Calatrava addition at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Midwest Express Center, and to major clients in local and county governments and big industries.

Today the firm has 350 employees and seven offices around the country. Anhalt retired in 1993.

It was just in time to give him a breather before putting his business and marketing skills behind the local library’s capital campaign.

Len Anhalt helped found the Pauline Haass Public Library Foundation a dozen years ago, at a time when there was a $300,000 funding gap for equipping and furnishing the new library. Using his contacts, he was able to sit down with business executives like Harry Quadracci (Quad/Graphics) and stress the importance of a community library.

"I think it’s the center of knowledge, and it’s critical to the health and welfare of a community — not just education-wise, but economically and culturally," Len said.

Jane, who served a three-year term on the library board, sees it from another perspective.

"I think of what it does for families," she said. "It’s a wonderful place for kids to learn to love books."

After the library was opened, the foundation, with Len Anhalt as president, kept working.

Since then the foundation’s added $155,000 for technology and other needs beyond the reach of the tax-financed budget. Things like free Internet workshops for citizens, public computers, equipment for meeting rooms, even an automated external defibrillator.

Now Len Anhalt has stepped down as foundation president, succeeded by Marie DeVillers, but he’s still fund-raising.

The couple have designated a significant part of their estate toward the foundation, and in appreciation, the foundation is calling it The Anhalt Society.

Like the Pauline Haass Public Library Foundation, The Anhalt Society is administered through the Waukesha County Community Foundation.

That’s a whole network of stand-up people who want to share their treasures with good causes across Waukesha County, in small amounts and large.

DeVillers said a library expansion campaign is probably in the foundation’s future, given the large population growth in the Sussex-Lisbon area.

She’s hoping The Anhalt Society — with a dedication ceremony in May to honor Len and Jane — will set the perfect example for other donors.

Len Anhalt said he and others with the foundation plan to contact individuals and businesses with the message that in a community that’s been good to them, citizens and businesses should stand up and give back.

Kathy Klager, the library director, said the Anhalts are "salt of the earth" people, quiet and unassuming who are not interested in a flashy lifestyle.

"What they believe in," she said, "is giving back to the community."

Any followers?

Call Laurel Walker at (262) 650-3183 or e-mail [email protected]

Copyright 2008, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

Officials say book arrest is no anomaly & Warrants issued for overdue library items

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Monday, September 1, 2008

(an excerpt)

Pauline Haass Public Library in Sussex contracts Unique Management Services, a library materials recovery and collection agency, to retrieve materials that are more than two months overdue and to collect unpaid fees. The Waukesha Public Library staff also sends cases to a collection agency.

Libraries give patrons chances to return overdue items.


correction

The Pauline Hass Library Board strategic planning meeting is set for 5 p.m. March 12. The date was reported incorrectly in the Thursday, Feb. 25, Lake County Reporter. Lake Country Publications apologizes for the error.

Pauline Haass Library needs more space

Planning session Thursday might discuss addition

Village of Sussex - The Pauline Haass Public Library Board will consider operational and programmatic goals, objectives and strategies for the next three years – including the library's growing space needs – at a strategic planning session next Thursday, March 12.

Library Director Kathy Klager said board members and staff will review statistics and other data relating to library programs and operations and discuss developing goals, objectives and strategies based partly on that data.

Included in the information will be the results of surveys of library users.

The meeting might also discuss the library's long-range plans to expand its existing facilities.

Library circulation has increased 67 percent during the past decade; from about 189,200 items checked out in 1997 to more than 316,800 in 2006.

The 13-year-old building has about 22,000 square feet, but its existing operational and programmatic needs could already use another 5,000, according to a consultant commissioned by the library board.

Another 26,000 to 32,000 square feet will be needed to meet future operational and programmatic requirements, the consultant reported, as well as anticipated growth in the population of the library's service area – primarily the Village of Sussex and the Town of Lisbon, the two muncipalities that own the library.

The consultant and library officials would prefer to build an addition to the existing facility rather than build a new structure.

"Fortunately for the library, these issues are not imminent," consultant Anders C. Dalgren wrote in a recent summary of his recommendations prepared for the board. "It is essential that the library present these findings to the village and town so that all three key players can engage in thoughtful dialog on the best future direction for the Pauline Haass Public Library."


Community Briefs 06/24/09

Library offers personalized bricks for $100

The Sussex-Lisbon Pauline Haass Public Library is offering personalized bricks that will be installed around the entrance sculpture this fall.

"A personalized brick makes a great retirement or anniversary gift," library director Kathy Klager noted in a press release. "There's nothing for the recipient to sore or dust."

Many buy bricks as memorials to family members or friends, she added. Others have their own names in inscribed on the briks to show their support for the library. One of the existing bricks is a marriage proposal; another expresses a family's wish for world peace.

Besides the $75 each $100 brick raises for the library, they also seem to serve another need, Klager said: "I often see people looking over the bricks and enjoying the sense of community that seeing so many familiar names brings to them.

Brick order forms are available at the library and must be returned by Thursday, July 9. The bricks may be inscribed with up to three lines of 12 letters each. For suggestions, call the library, (262) 246-5180.


Sussex library offers new way to learn foreign language Grant pays for laptops, software patrons can use

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, August 20, 2009
Author: LAUREL WALKER, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By LAUREL WALKER

Those who turn to their local public library for help in learning a second language — or at least enough to help them when they travel abroad — have usually had to rely on printed or audio books, tapes and DVDs.

They’re the kind of staid self-help tools that, when there’s no live being directly teaching you, don’t necessarily breed success.

At the Pauline Haass Public Library in Sussex, however, thanks to a $10,000 technology grant from the library foundation, patrons now have access to an interactive language immersion software program on laptops that might be the next best thing to having a tutor at their side.

Library Director Kathy Klager said the reaction to the new Rosetta Stone language tool has been overwhelmingly positive since it was installed in June.

Patrons can check out laptops loaded with the software and, in the privacy of library study rooms where quiet is not a requirement, use a microphone and mouse clicks to advance through practical lessons in French, Spanish, German or Mandarin Chinese. The laptops can’t be removed from the library.

The lessons are entirely in the language being studied and rely on photographs, repetition, verbal cues, voice recognition, role-playing, review and a go-at-your-own-speed approach. The user gets feedback on accent, inflection and pronunciation, as well as vocabulary and grammar.

Klager thinks the program at her small Waukesha County library is unique. She’s found only a couple of other libraries that have loaded the software on their public-access computers, but they disabled the voice recognition portion because of the noise.

But in the state’s largest city, Milwaukee librarian Virginia Schwartz, coordinator of humanities and archives, said the system has nothing similar to what the Pauline Haass library offers.

Companies such as Rosetta Stone or, more recently, Mango, have offered databases to libraries so that library members can log into the interactive programs from home. But they’re not commonly available because "it’s enormously expensive," she said.

Librarians say that foreign language resources are in frequent demand by library patrons.

But many libraries are too strapped for funds to buy the priciest tools with all the bells and whistles. Home versions of Rosetta Stone can sell for about $500.

When she learned that the Pauline Haass library was offering the new service, Veronica "Ronnie" Andrew, 44, of Menomonee Falls, jumped at the opportunity. She said she’d once had private lessons from a German tutor a decade or so ago but was disappointed in herself for letting the language fade to the recesses of her mind.

Now she’s spending time at the local library she enjoys, an hour or two at a time, once or twice a week, and finds she can "plug along pretty well" in increasingly advanced German lessons.

Klager said the local library foundation grant paid for a half-dozen laptops, licenses for a dozen Rosetta Stone programs and other materials.

One of the early users was a college student majoring in French who wanted a quick brush-up before she studied abroad. Another was a man who was considering buying the Japanese language software but was unsure about spending hundreds of dollars for fear he wouldn’t stick with it, so he wanted to sample it. Another patron wanted to communicate with co-workers and improve his résumé for job searches, Klager said.

"I think most of us think that learning a language would be fun," she said. "But learning from an audio tape is difficult. This is something that’s fun."

If a user makes it through the three basic levels of language on the programs, "you won’t fool anyone into thinking you’re native," she said, "but you’ll get by."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.


Sussex Way beyond books Innovative services make the library indispensible

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Sunday, September 6, 2009
Author: KELLY SMITH: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By KELLY SMITH

The multimillion-dollar, 22,000-square-foot Pauline Haass library on Main Street in the Village of Sussex is one of the largest, most modern library facilities in Lake Country and western Waukesha County.

Built in 1995, the library contains about 80,000 volumes and circulates more than 300,000 items annually including books, magazines, audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, and other materials.

The library features an extensive online system that enables patrons to inquire about the availability of materials throughout Waukesha County libraries as well as renew items, check due dates and reserve materials on home-based computers.

In addition, the library provides a range of educational, recreational and reading programs for members of all ages of the Lisbon-Sussex community. Two of its newest features are the Next Steps Employment network program and the Rosetta Stone language courses.

The employment program, which meets every Wednesday morning, provides local job seekers tips on finding the right job, resume building and interviewing skills.

The software for language instruction in Mandarin Chinese, French, German and Spanish is available for use in the library by those ages 14 and older. Youngsters under 14 may use the language sessions if they are accompanied by an adult.

Distinguished history The library is named for Pauline Haass , the wife of a local farmer who died in 1985 and bequeathed about a half million dollars in investments, a house, and 70 acres to the Town of Lisbon to be used for a town library.

The donation was the catalyst for elected officials in the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex to jointly fund and operate a library to serve the more than 20,000 residents of the Lisbon-Sussex community.

The Town of Lisbon, established in 1836, is approximately 30 square miles and stretches from the Village of Menomonee Falls west to near the Village of Merton, along Highway Q, which separates Waukesha and Washington counties.

Commercial and retail establishments serving the town are generally located in the Village of Sussex, which was first settled in 1843. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, commercial, retail and government buildings along with a lumber company, rail line and cannery were established in what were then the villages of Sussex and Templeton.

In 1924, the two villages were merged to become the Village of Sussex.

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.


Lisbon, Sussex split library contributions

"In these tough economic times, people have been relying on the Pauline Haass Public Library more than ever."

With that claim - supported by a variety of statistics on increases in library use - library officials unveiled the first draft of their proposed 2010 budget last Wednesday at a joint meeting of all three boards: Lisbon, Sussex and the library's.

All but the $50,000 allocated to the library's capital fund (split on a 50-50 basis), is divided between the two municipalities according to their relative equalized values - 51 percent from Sussex next year and 49 percent from Lisbon - as established by the joint agreement that set up the library.

That means $579,413 from Sussex (an $18,510 or 3.3-percent or increase from 2009) and $558,140 from Lisbon (just $5,417, or 0.98 percent, more than this year's town contribution).

Besides the two municipalities' contributions, the library expects to receive about $149,000 from other sources: about half from the Waukesha County library tax (levied on municipalities that don't have libraries), another $41,000 from adjacent counties (based on their residents' use of the Pauline Haass Library), $27,000 from fines and smaller amounts from other sources.

Lisbon Town Supervisor Dan Fischer asked why the two communities used different formulas to divide up the two budgets, operating expenses (about $883,000 after other revenue sources are deducted) and building loan repayments (about $205,000) on the one hand, and the capital fund on the other.

The Town of Lisbon would save $500 in 2010 if the equalized formula applied to the capital fund, too.

Library Board Chairman Emil Glodoski recalled that the 50-50 formula was established when the capital plan was created two years ago "in an extraordinary moment of good will."

Library Director Kathy Klager called the capital fund's creation - based on a seven-year capital plan - a "brilliant" move that stabilized such expenses, "minimizing sudden jumps" in capital spending and "distributing costs evenly" over those seven years.

At its creation, Sussex Village Administrator Evan Teich had argued that the capital fund could also help the library - and the two municipalities supporting it - avoid running up debts to pay for short-term capital expenses that should be paid for by setting funds aside each year for those needs as they arose.

Despite increased use - circulation rose 3 percent, library visits and reference questions 6 percent, Internet use 26 percent, study room use 75 percent - the library still had to cut book and audio book purchases by 5 percent this year and computer replacements by 33 percent.

The library recycles staff computers that are replaced by faster machines into the pool of computers available to library users, approximately doubling their more typical three-year life spans, Klager explained.

The library has also saved on electricity bills since 2007, when it installed motion-sensor lights and replaced incandescent with fluorescent bulbs.

"A recent energy audit by We Energies found nothing to improve except the possible installation of sensors in the restrooms," Klager noted, "but we're not going to do that."

The library also negotiated a new telephone contract in 2008.

"We found out that we're a big business," Klager said, "and that gave us leverage to cut a better deal."

Fischer suggested the Library Board cut back further by scaling back staff wage increases.

Klager defended the proposed 2-percent increase as being in line with Sussex's proposed increase for 2010.

Fischer countered by proposing a 1-percent increase, which would yield a 2-percent average increase over two years.

The board will consider that proposal at its next meeting Oct. 14.

Almost all of the proposed budget's increases next year come from contractual obligations, Klager said, including the building debt, which expires in 2014.

Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski said the two communities should think about revising and renewing their commitment to the library by 2014, especially if the library needs to expand.

He pointed out that, although both Sussex and Lisbon are committed to supporting the library through the end of the building loan agreement, the contract between the two communities includes an opt-out clause with three months' notice.

"Before we talk about committing to any expansion, we have to sit down and look at this agreement, which seems to be outdated," he added.

Lisbon Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said it was "premature to talk about expansion. I understand the concerns, but times are tough."

"It's a great library," he added, "and I don't mean to discount those (space) concerns entirely."

"We're not talking about expansion before 2014," Klager pointed out, "and neither community seems interested in pulling out, so (future agreements) should be easy to handle."

Pressure to expand lessened recently, she noted. "The population hasn't grown the way we thought would happen," she said.

Although slower than anticipated, the population will continue to grow, she added. Quoting a visitor who recently toured the library with some local officials, Klager said, "She asked me, 'Are you going to build out or build up?' I joked to myself, 'Who paid her to ask that?' "

Both Lapcinski and Gehrke asked Klager if there were any savings she could find, perhaps by a "rotating furlough" of library staff.

Klager said that would be difficult because the library employs only four full-time workers who also get healthcare benefits; the remainder is part time.

She said it would be difficult to apportion furloughs fairly, given the uneven distribution of hours among both the part-time and full-time staff.

The only other place to cut would be in the number of hours the library is open each week, she said, something that would also be required if staff hours are cut.

During the citizen comment portion of the meeting that followed, Mona Day of Sussex argued that this would be a bad time to cut hours.

"I've often seen this room filled with unemployed people," she said. "In these tough economic times, why would you take that away?"

She also decried the furlough suggestion. "It goes along with the cut in hours idea," she said.

Though Lapcinski had originally proposed the furlough idea, he said during an interview after the meeting that he agreed with Day.

By the numbers

Besides the two municipalities' contributions, the library expects to receive about $149,000 from other sources:

• About half from the Waukesha County library tax (levied on municipalities that don't have libraries)

• Another $41,000 from adjacent counties (based on their residents' use of the Pauline Haass Library)

• $27,000 from fines and smaller amounts from other sources.


Library staff and volunteers | Pauline Haass Public Library

Kathy Klager

Pauline Haass Public Library

The library staff and I are excited to start this new column about the Pauline Haass Public Library (PHPL). You can expect to read about services that you might not know the library offers; books, music and movie suggestions, new formats, online searching tips and "back of the store" information. The columnists will vary: Ralph Illick and Becky Murray will write about issues of interest to adults. Kerry Pinkner, Susan Steffens, Kara Rosenthal, Katie Mueller and Kirsten Mortimer will cover children and teens. I'll chime in now and then.

PHPL has both a vision and a mission. Our vision (that far-reaching goal) is to be a leader, providing innovative library services to encourage lifelong learning and enrich our community. The mission (what we do) is to promote literacy, and connect people to information, ideas, and one another in a vibrant, welcoming environment. It all sounds very nice, but what does it mean? Let me pull out a few key words and phrases for you, starting with "enrich our community." That (and the promise of some really good steel-cut oatmeal with fruit and nuts) is the part that gets me out of bed every morning. What better job could a person ask for? At PHPL, we try to do all we can to make the lives of our residents better, easier and more interesting. By doing so, we hope to make the Sussex-Lisbon community a richer place for all.

A public library today is probably much different from the quiet place that you remember from your childhood. For one thing, the library is no longer just a place. We have electronic databases, online book clubs, and a Web page and catalog that are available even when the building is closed. I hope you will regularly use the library Web site, www.phplonline.org. It changes frequently, and includes a Google calendar from which you can transfer reminders about upcoming events.

" … connect people to information, ideas, and one another … " is a major phrase in this library's mission. You'll notice it doesn't say we provide access; that's too passive. We strive to put information and ideas in front of you, to reach out and say, "Hey, you might be interested in this!" So, at PHPL, you will see lots of displays and hear staff members telling you about something new they think fits your reading patterns. You'll also hear some noise. Connecting people with information and ideas generates excitement; connecting them with one another generates conversation. Whether people meet in the library's book clubs, at speaker programs, at children's events, or during the March art show, they're connecting with, and learning to care about, one another, which enriches the community.

Connecting people to information also means that you don't have to know where to find the information. Leave that to us; just call us, e-mail us, or stop in and ask a question and we'll try to find an answer for you. Does your mother need in-home care? Are your houseplants dying? Do you need to apply for government benefits? Are you looking for information about a health condition, a new law, a travel destination? Do you just not know where to turn to solve a problem? Call (262) 246-5181 to speak to a librarian about adult issues, and (262) 246-5182 to get information for kids and teens.

We "promote literacy" and that sounds simple. But we're talking about all kinds of literacy, not just the ability to read books in English. We promote cultural literacy by bringing in speakers and making current videos and music available. We promote technological literacy by offering free personal computer training sessions. And we promote language literacy by having Rosetta Stone loaded on laptops for use in the library. Of course, we haven't forgotten reading, and our storytimes, laptimes, and Music & More all introduce children to the rhythms, colors and stories inherent in reading.

The last part of this library's mission says that we do all this in "a vibrant, welcoming environment." We want you to feel that the library is your other family room, a place you use to relax, to socialize, to play and to learn. Whether it's plopping down with a good novel or newspaper near the south windows overlooking the garden, playing chess or checkers, watching a puppet show that your children put on, researching a new car purchase, learning a language, or Web surfing, there's plenty for you and your family to do here.

Kathy Klager is Director of the Pauline Haass Public Library; for questions or more information, call Klager at (262) 246-5180.

The library is open seven days a week during the school year. From 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays is a popular time for family visits or last-minute homework. Currently, annual checkouts exceed 321,000 and an average of more than 400 people a day use the library building. Our goal with this column is to give you reasons to be one of them.


Cool reaction to library plan

Town of Lisbon — Town Chairman Matt Gehrke's proposal to change the funding formula for the Pauline Haas Library is getting mixed reviews from some of his fellow Town Board members and is not being embraced by one key Sussex village official.

Meanwhile, Library Director Kathy Klager urged the elected officials to focus first on amending the agreement that created the joint community library and deal with funding formula issues later.

Klager said planning for the future of the library will become "problematic" unless there is a change to a clause in the agreement that enables either community, after 2014 when building bonds are retired, to terminate the agreement with 90 days notice.

"Because of that clause, we cannot plan on even technical and mundane things like buying a new boiler," Klager said, pointing out that there are no assurances the library can survive from one year to the next because of the termination clause.

Klager said amending the clause becomes more important as 2014 draws closer and the communities continue to pay down the building debt.

There are nearly 85,000 volumes, including an additional 7,000 that can be downloaded onto a personal computer. There are also nearly 15,000 audio and video tapes that can be checked out or downloaded. An estimated 24,000 individuals used the computer facilities at the library last year.

Of the estimated nearly 329,000 items checked out of the library last year, 45 percent were by Sussex residents, 29 percent by Lisbon residents and 26 percent from residents from other communities.

In an interview last week, Gehrke emphasized that he and the remaining four members of the Town Board are committed to the library. He said he would support a five-year extension of the agreement, provided Lisbon's share of the library cost is reduced. Gehrke said the two communities make almost equal contributions to the library budget each year - about $425,000 to $450,000 - but Sussex residents use the library about 50 percent more than Lisbon residents.

Gehrke said each community's share of the costs should be based on the community's use of the library rather than the amount of the community's equalized assessed valuation.

Since the agreement was ratified in 1988, the equalized assessed valuations - the estimated value of all property - in the two communities has remained about the same and so has each community's share of the approximately $1 million operating budget.

Other surrounding communities whose residents use the library contribute about $150,000 to the operating budget.

"If all they want is to lower the cost to Lisbon, then I don't see how that benefits the greater community," observed Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski.

Lapcinski revealed during a Village Board meeting last week the private discussions that had been going on between him and Gehrke.

Town Board members have not publicly discussed the issue, and two supervisors - Dan Heier and Ryan Lippert - recently appointed by Gehrke as liaisons to the Library Board, apparently had not been told by Gehrke about the conversations he was having with Lapcinski.

Heier said he did not think the existing formula needed to be changed unless both communities agreed to a formula that might be more equitable to Lisbon.

Heier also emphasized he did not want the library negotiations to be linked to other issues being negotiated between the town and village.

Supervisor Dan Fischer said he supported Gehrke's proposal and suggested the issues could be negotiated without jeopardizing the library.

"There is no rush; 2014 is still a few years away," Fischer noted.


Library next issue for Lisbon-Sussex

Annexation resolution raises tensions between village, town

The President of the Pauline Haass Library Board is optimistic that growing tensions between elected officials in the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex over an annexation resolution adopted last week by the village board will not interfere with negotiations over a new joint library agreement expected to begin later this month.

Emil Glodoski said elected officials in both communities "take great pride in the fact that the library serves both communities and they take pride in fact that they had been able to work together on the library which they see as 'the crown jewel' of the two communities."

"There has been a history of differences between the boards in the two communities but when it comes to the library they have somehow always been able to work together," he concluded.

Glodoski of the Town of Lisbon has served about 10 years on the board. The village and town boards appoint members to the Library Board which oversees operations of the seventh largest library in Waukesha County.

Library officials want discussions on a new agreement to begin as soon as possible. They say it is difficult for the library staff and board to plan for the future because the existing agreement between the two communities expires in 2014.

The Library Board is scheduled to meet with the village and town board on Aug. 18.

It was apparent last that week that relationships between the town and village boards were strained by the Village Board's 6 to 1 vote indicating its willingness to annex all lands in the town despite pleas from Town Chairman Matt Gehrke that the resolution would "send the wrong signal" to residents of both communities.

Village Attorney John Macy emphasized the resolution was adopted to maintain the village's legal options regarding efforts by town residents to incorporate, or upgrade, their form of government from a town to a village.

Village President Tony Lapcinski added adopting the resolution was necessary if village officials wanted to raise issues relating to municipal services during incorporation hearings.

Lapcinski noted that while Sussex and Lisbon have similar populations, Sussex has a larger police force, more parks, and provides more services to its residents than the Town of Lisbon offers it constituents.

Trustee Fred Gallant asserted that town officials and residents have not "fairly compensated" the village for providing services that town residents seek.

"I had always hoped we could find some common ground but it has become apparent to me that there are those in Lisbon who want their cake and eat it too at the expense of the village," Gallant concluded.

Gehrke urged the trustees to work with town supervisors on increasing shared services between the communities rather than passing a resolution threatening annexation of town lands.

Gehrke said the town board would consider paying a greater share of the costs of any shared services in which they believed the town benefitted more than the village.

Town Supervisor Joe Osterman later added, "I asked some of the trustees after the meeting what Sussex services they thought Lisbon was using and the only thing they could name was the Fourth of July Fireworks and Lions Daze."

Trustee Pat Tetzlaff voted against the resolution arguing there might be other alternatives than adopting a resolution that she believed would set back improving relationships between the governing bodies.


Lisbon-Sussex leaders clash in library talks

Conflict surrounds renewing library agreement

Village of Sussex — Elected officials in the Village of Sussex and Town of Lisbon appear to be on the verge of something that some of their constituents asked them not to do: playing politics with the Pauline Haass Public Library.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke and Village President Tony Lapcinski had an intense exchange during a meeting last week that was supposed to initiate negotiations between the governing bodies of the communities over a joint library agreement.

"We would like to see something secured for the long term. There needs to be a trust between the communities, and right now that trust is not there," Gehrke said.

Gehrke asserted that some of the issues between the communities that have prompted the mistrust need to be addressed.

Lapcinski responded that the library negotiations should "stand alone" and be separated from the other issues.

"I don't think we should politicize the library discussions with 'I will give you this if you give me that,' " he said.

But Lapcinski acknowledged that recently elected leaders in both communities have not been successful in establishing a trusting relationship.

"I have made great headway with Menomonee Falls, the City of Pewaukee and Merton, but I have been a failure with Lisbon. I don't know how that has happened," he said.

Although Lapcinski and Gehrke said the governing boards are committed to reaching an agreement, their sometimes sharp exchanges concerned some members of the Library Board and other municipal officials.

"I cannot believe what I am hearing. I just can't believe it," said Sussex Trustee Pat Tetzlaff, who acknowledged she was "flabbergasted" by the exchange between the two leaders.

She said the two governing bodies had an obligation to reach an agreement because of the money and effort donated to the library by both communities.

"You say you want to run this place like a business. It is more than a business; it is a moral calling," she added.

Lisbon Library Board member Robert Williams warned that time might be running out on the communities to reach a new agreement.

Williams, a former town supervisor, pointed out that the agreement expires in 2014.

However, he noted either community could withdraw from the agreement within 90 days after the approximately $250,000 to $300,000 building debt is paid off.

"Either of you are capable of paying off the debt tomorrow," he said. "You don't have time, you have got to get this worked out now!

"If you continue to fight the way you are, one of you is going to get so upset that you might pull out," he concluded.

Sussex resident Len Anhalt, president emeritus of the library foundation, pleaded with village trustees and town supervisors to work together in reaching a new library agreement.

"Please do not play political games with this important facility that is such a treasure to the communities," he said.

There are no indications when negotiations between the Town and Village boards will begin.

Library Board Chairman Emil Glodoski described each section of the agreement to the Village and Town boards.

So far, the key issues appear to be whether to continue the present formula for funding and the library and how to extend the process for terminating the agreement.

Library Board members would like to extend the amount of notice a community has to give to terminate the agreement from 90 days to five years.

Gehrke has suggested each community's share of funds for the library should be based on how frequently residents in that community use the library.

He has said Sussex residents use the library more than Lisbon residents.

The present formula is based on the size of the tax base of each of communities, which happens to be about the same size, which means the communities almost equally divide their share of the cost of the library operations and debt.


Pauline Haass Public Library

The logo you see included in this column is something I hope that you start seeing, and recognizing, in many places. It's the Pauline Haass Public Library's first ever logo and tagline. For years, other staff and I have wanted a logo, but there were always reasons to put it off: there were more important goals to be met, designing a logo wasn't a skill we had, and where was the money going to come from to hire a graphic artist to do it?

What finally got the ball rolling was the tagline. Having seen taglines for various companies, and realizing how well they summarize the business's philosophy and mission in a memorable way, I started thinking about what a tagline for PHPL would look like.

I did some looking around, both nearby and farther afield. Brookfield's library uses, "Where to go when you want to know." Eagle says it's "the little library with big ideas." Waukesha strives to be "the community's best source for inspiration, ideas, and information." Pewaukee Public Library, located a short distance from the lake, has a clever tag line of "Keeping you current." Delafield, meanwhile, is "Keeping you connected." Mukwonago's library is "Rooted in the Past, growing for Tomorrow," Omaha Public Library says, "Open Your World." Phoenix Public Library says it's "Yours to Explore." Boston Public Library asks, "What do You Want to Know?" and West Palm Beach's library is "An Oasis of Knowledge." They're all good taglines, although the Oasis one might not fit too well here in Wisconsin.

With all that inspiration, we gave more thought to what it is that makes this library special to the community. Yes, we have thousands of wonderful books, videos and music CDs. Yes, we offer popular children's and adult programming. Yes, we have bright and helpful reference librarians to answer your questions. But what's the overarching philosophy? Here's what we concluded: at the Pauline Haass Public Library, we're here to help you reach whatever goals you have for yourselves or your children. That might be learning to read, getting a new job, repairing an appliance, becoming a citizen, or learning to handle a chronic illness.

We're here to help you get "anywhere" you want to go. We believe your possibilities are endless, regardless of your background or financial position, and that it's our job to do what it takes to help you achieve those possibilities. When you don't know where to start, we want you to know you can start here at your local library, the Pauline Haass Public Library. Boiling that down, we came up with "Start here, Go anywhere." (Yes, grammarians, I know there should be a semicolon in there and the G should be lower case, but this version was punchier.)

So, okay, we had a tagline that summarized our philosophy! There was still the matter of that pesky logo. Have you ever done a Google search for library logos? Not a pretty sight. You've never seen so many versions of books, or for the libraries trying to get across the message that we're more than books, outdated pictures of computers. I really didn't want either of those. And I didn't want a picture of the building, because PHPL offers so much online, not just in the building, and also because books, computers, and buildings don't represent our philosophy.

With these thoughts in mind, I turned to Chris Aykroid, an area resident and library user who is also a graphic artist and website designer at orionweb.net. Chris donates his design skills to our Friends of the Library group to produce the eye-catching posters you see for the library's adult programs. His work is terrific and he's a pleasure to work with. This time, with funds donated by the Friends, we actually offered to pay him! Chris gave us several completely different logo ideas. His personal favorite was a tongue-in-cheek logo of the head of a bun-wearing young woman (Pauline, in his mind), with a cleverly designed earlobe and earring that formed a question mark. I tested it on some of our volunteers, Friends, Foundation members, and staff. While some of the others liked it, the staff uniformly hated it! While "Pauline" was attractive, she hit too close to the stereotype for the women, and I didn't even want to ask what our male staff members thought.

The design you see above was favored by the strong majority. We think it's simple, expansive, fresh, energetic, and conveys the "Go anywhere" optimism. And despite the fact that I personally wanted to stay away from a book icon, those who want to see a book in it can easily do so! We hope you'll enjoy it, and that you'll start here, at PHPL, the next time you want to head somewhere new.


Agreement on library budget expected

Officials meet tonight to discuss contributions

Agreement on library budget expected

Officials met Wednesday to discuss cost shares

Pauline Haass Library Director Kathy Klager is optimistic that the strained relations between elected officials in the Village of Sussex and Town of Lisbon will not prevent them from reaching an agreement on the library's 2011 operating budget.

"It is such a lean budget, what is there not to like?" she said during an interview last week.

However, Klager is realistic enough to acknowledge that a cloud may have been created over recent budget discussions, that were scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Quad Graphics Room of the library, by the stormy negotiations between elected officials in Lisbon and Sussex over extending a library operating agreement beyond 2014.

Those storm clouds may become even bigger if the Lisbon Town Board, at a meeting scheduled for Sept. 28, adopts a proposal that would require the village to pay 20 percent more of the library costs as part of a new agreement.

The proposed 2011 budget calls for each community to contribute between $525,000 and $550,000 of the approximately $1.2 million proposed for library operating costs and debt service next year.

The remaining funds come from Waukesha County tax revenues, tax revenues from adjacent counties, fees, fines and other miscellaneous revenue sources, according to budget documents.

The budget proposes spending increases of less than 1 percent. It cuts spending for grounds and building systems maintenance, heating costs, legal fees, and supplies and equipment replacement. Salary and benefit costs are increased by about $10,000 while debt service payments remain almost the same as the 2010 budget

Because of reductions in each community's estimated land values, the Village of Sussex share of the costs is increased by about $9,260, from $550,750 to $560,190. The Town of Lisbon's share is reduced by about a thousand dollars, from $529,618 to $528,584.

But Town Chairman Matt Gehrke believes the town pays too much for the library and had some sharp exchanges with Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski during a meeting of the elected officials last month to begin deliberations extend the intermunicipal operating agreement for the library beyond 2014.

Gehrke argued the formula is unfair because it is based solely on land values and does not take into consideration, that based on circulation figures, Sussex residents use the library more than Town of Lisbon residents. In addition, Gehrke suggested that there are other issues between the communities that need to be resolved as part of the library agreement negotiations.

Lapcinski rebutted that library agreement negotiations should be separated from other issues between the communities and the reason Lisbon wants to change the agreement is so it will pay less for library services.

Klager said that while there are more than 300,000 books, materials, audio and video tapes and other items circulated by the library annually, circulation is only one indication of library usage.

For example, more than 11,000 children, teens and adults participated in various library programs in 2010. In 2009, the reference desk responded to more than 16,000 inquiries. There are 11 computers available during library hours to provide patrons with access to the Internet.

The library does not collect information that indicates children and adult participation in the programs, individuals using library computers, or making inquiries to the reference desk, according to Klager.

Based on circulation, the Pauline Haass Public Library is the seventh largest in Waukesha County and has been operated by a library board appointed and funded by the two communities since 1988.


Sussex-Lisbon deadlocked on library?

The Town of Lisbon and Village of Sussex appear to be headed for an impasse over Pauline Haass Library funding beyond 2014 even though elected leaders of the two communities have yet to begin serious negotiations over an operating agreement for the jointly owned library.

The Lisbon Town Board was expected to adopt a new operating agreement Tuesday, Sept. 28, that would require the Village of Sussex to pay 20 percent more for library expenses.

The proposal is in stark contrast to a resolution adopted by the Village Board last month, which provides that any new agreement maintains the existing funding formula, which is based on the equalized assessed valuation of the each of the communities.

The intermunicipal agreement creating the library that is funded by the two communities is scheduled to expire in 2014. Library officials have asked the two communities to reach a new agreement as soon as possible so the Library Board and staff can begin planning beyond 2014.

Since the two communities' assessed valuations are similar, so are their shares of library funding.

The proposed 2011 budget calls for Sussex to contribute $560,190, about a $9,200 increase above 2010, and for Lisbon to pay $529,618, a reduction of about $1,000 compared to the 2010 budget.

But Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said the formula is unfair because Village of Sussex residents use the library more than town residents, based on circulation data.

According to the data, Sussex residents check out 49 percent of the approximately 329,000 circulated books and materials, compared to Lisbon residents 29 percent. The remainder is checked out by residents of other communities.

Library Director Kathy Klager has pointed out that circulation is only one barometer of library use. For example, there are about 11,000 children, teenagers and adults who participate in library programs, but, so far, there is no data tracking their hometown communities.

Gehrke has proposed a formula that is based both on the assessed valuation and Sussex's use of the library. The Village of Sussex would pay 20 percent of the approximately $1 million in cost shared by the two communities. The remaining 80 percent would be shared by the communities based on each community's equalized assessed valuation.

Nine of the 25 jointly operated libraries in the state base their local funding formula on a combination of factors, including assessed valuations. In addition to assessed valuation, some use population, others use circulation or the number of library cards per community, and some evenly divide the costs based on the number of communities in the library agreement.

For example, the joint library operated by Mequon/Thiensville bases its fund-sharing formula on a combination of population, circulation and equalized valuation.

The City of Marshfield and the Town of McMillan determine the town's share of the library cost based on the amount the town would pay in county library taxes or the amount the town pays based on town use of the library over a three-year average, whichever is highest. The library is owned and operated by the city.

The Villages of Little Chute and Kimberly divide library costs based on population and assessed valuation.

"I think the data strengthens our argument that the formula can be based on something else than assessed valuation," according to Gehrke.

Village Trustee Pat Tetzlaff said in an interview she is willing consider a funding formula change but said chances are "slim to none" that the village board would be willing to increase its share of the library cost by 20 percent.

Village Administrator Jeremy Smith added that state-imposed limits on the size of the village's tax levy would make it impractical for the village to sustain that large of a library funding increase.

Budget talks

Pauline Haass Library Director Kathy Klager is optimistic that the library's 2011 budget will be accepted. See story on page A13.


New faces at library bring diverse experience

Chances are you're noticing some new faces at the Pauline Haass Public Library these days.

"We have had some exciting changes in staffing, and I know that the new mix of staff members is bound to bring ideas and experiences that will make the library even more dynamic," said Library Director Kathy Klager.

Klager is referring to Becky Murray, recently promoted to head of Adult Services; Jannis Mindel, who started in November as a 30-hour-a-week Youth Services Librarian; and Eric Grob, the newest of the three, who joined the library as a full-time Adult Services librarian in mid-January.

Mindel brings 12 years of experience, including nine at Chicago Public Library branches. Klager considers Mindel's experience in multiple Chicago branches to be valuable. "It gives Jannis a breadth of experience, in addition to the depth of her years of work. She's seen library service delivered many different ways, to many different demographics."

Grob comes to the library with a new master's degree in Library and Information Science, and experience working at a branch of Seattle Public Library during his student days. "Eric brings us that fresh perspective of librarianship that's so important. But he also is well-seasoned from his time at Seattle Public, so he's not a theory-only guy," Klager said. Grob is originally from Wisconsin, and received his undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

All three of these staff members are well-immersed in technology. Klager knew she wanted to promote and hire people who are "gadget lovers" as well as people lovers. "Whether it's an e-mail accessed on their smartphone about an item that's ready to be picked up, an audiobook downloaded through our website to be listened to on an iPod, or an e-book downloaded from the library to a Nook or Sony eReader, our customers are increasingly interacting with us digitally. It's essential that staff understand their needs and help them get our resources easily. We need to be speaking the same language."

Klager encourages residents to stop in the library and meet the new librarians. "We're here to help you seven days a week, and would love to know what you'd like to see in your library."


Library talks resume?

Officials may meet soon about agreement

Village of Sussex - A village trustee who is a newly appointed member of the Pauline Haas Library Board says he is willing to go into negotiations with the Town of Lisbon over a joint municipal library agreement with "an open mind" but he is not likely to support a town proposal to change the formula for providing local funds for the library.

"I think it is important that everyone go into this with an open mind. We (the Village of Sussex) have a new administration and there are some new people on the board," said Village Trustee Tim Dietrich, who was recently appointed to the Library Board by newly elected Village President Greg Goetz.

However, he added, "I think the 50-50 formula is just fine," referring to the existing funding formula in which each community is annually contributing about $425,000 to $450,000 a year to library operations.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke has called for a change in the formula that he says should more accurately reflect the fact that Sussex residents use the library more than Lisbon residents. Gehrke has said he could support an extension of the agreement provided that Lisbon's share of the library costs are reduced.

Library Director Kathy Klager last year urged the elected officials to focus first on amending the agreement that created the joint community library and deal with funding formula issues later.

Klager expressed concern the future of the library could be "problematic" unless there is a change in the language that allows either community to pull out of the agreement with 90 days notice after 2014 when the loans on the building are paid off and the existing agreement expires.

Talks between the elected leaders in the two communities stalled last year, partly because officials from both communities were awaiting the outcome of contested municipal elections in Sussex in April. Town of Lisbon incumbent, included Gehrke, were reelected without opposition.

Library Board President Emil Glodoski sent a letter two weeks ago asking the town board chairman and village president to resume negotiations on the agreement.

Gehrke said the library agreement was one of a number of issues he planned on discussing in the near future with Goetz.

"My goal is to meet with Greg on a wide assortment of issues, the library being one of them, "said Gehrke, who added he was not sure how soon they would be able to meet.

Border agreement related?

Gehrke added that there was no relationship between the pending library negotiations and a closed-door session the Town Board scheduled on Monday, May 9 to discuss the border agreement between the two communities with Town Attorney Kathy Gutenkunst.

The border agreement has become the subject of controversy between the two communities as a result of Sussex opposing an effort by town residents to have Lisbon incorporated into a village. Town officials have contended the village's opposition to the town's incorporation is a violation of the border agreement. Village contended town officials had already violated the agreement by failing to share municipal services with the village and pointed to impasse over the library agreement as an example.

Some town and village observers have privately conjectured that the two issues are, or may, become intertwined.

Dietrich replaces on the Library Board former trustee Steve Berger who did not seek reelection to the village board. Dietrich has generally been sympathetic to the efforts to incorporate Lisbon as a village.

He was asked if the town's $1.5 million surplus in its general fund would become an issue in the library negotiations.

"I don't care how much money they have or don't have. Both communities are almost identical in size and this is about providing enough money so that if everyone from both communities wanted to use the library, there would be enough money to provide that service. If Lisbon residents don't choose to use the library as much as Sussex's, that is up to them but I want to make sure there is enough money to serve everyone," Dietrich added.


Incorporation fight linked to library talks

Lisbon, Sussex to resume library negotiations

Town of Lisbon - It is "problematic" whether negotiations between the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex over the operations of the Pauline Haass Public Library can be separated from the battles between the two communities over whether Lisbon should become a village, according to Town Chairman Matt Gehrke

An informal agreement to resume negotiations over the library was apparently reached during a private meeting Wednesday night, May 25, at the library between representatives of the village, town and Library Board.

Village Trustee Tim Dietrich and Town Supervisor Ryan Lippert are expected to begin private one-on-one talks in two weeks in an effort to develop the framework of an agreement that will allow the library to continue operations after 2014.

Attending the meeting were Gehrke and Lippert representing the town, Dietrich and Village President Greg Goetz representing the village, Library Director Kathy Klager and Library Board President Emil Glodowski along with Town Administrator Jeff Musche and Village Administrator Jeremy Smith.

The meeting was exempt from the Wisconsin open-meetings law because there was not a quorum of any of the three units of government, the Town and Village boards and the Library Board.

Dietrich said there was a consensus at the meeting - although it was not unanimous - that he and Lippert would take the lead role in the negotiations rather than having Goetz and Gehrke try to initially hammer out an agreement.

Dietrich said the parties agreed there was a possibility that other issues could interfere with library negotiations if the two chief elected officials were involved.

Gehrke, in a separate interview, described the meeting as "productive" and confirmed that Lippert and Dietrich would be doing some negotiation but Gehrke said talks between he and Goetz would also continue. He said that any agreement between the communities regarding the library would need the support of the town chairman and village president.

Gehrke said he thought the town and village were in agreement "on about 90 percent" of provisions for a new agreement.

Gehrke was asked whether it was possible to separate the library talks from the ongoing incorporation battle between the two communities. "It's problematic," he said.

Gehrke pointed out "trust is important when you are negotiating an agreement" and noted that the town thinks the village has violated a border agreement between the two communities by opposing the town's efforts to become a village.

But Gehrke has asserted the town is being charged an unfair share of the library operating costs. The two communities each pay about $450,000 to $500,000 annually.

The present agreement provides the communities share the cost based on their respective assessed valuations, which has resulted in the two communities paying an almost equal share.

Gehrke argues that Sussex residents use the library more, based on statistics from the library staff, than Lisbon residents and therefore Sussex should pay more, perhaps as much as about $80,000 annually.

Last year, Klager asked the two municipalities to temporarily set aside discussions about funding the library in order to reach a settlement on continuing the remainder of the agreement beyond 2014.

Klager is concerned that either community could dissolve the agreement with only 90 days notice once construction debts on the building are paid.

Library Board member Robert Williams, a former town supervisor, has said he thinks either community could pay off the debt immediately.

Klager has told the elected officials that it is difficult for her staff and the Library Board to plan for the future since there is uncertainty about how long the existing agreement might continue.


Library agreement pending

Sussex, Lisbon may discuss new funding formula

Village of Sussex - Village trustees were expected to discuss in a closed session Tuesday night, July 12, possible changes in an agreement between the Village and Town of Lisbon that determines how the two communities share in the funding and operations of the Pauline Haass Library. (The closed session took place after the Sussex Sun went to press).

Trustee Tim Dietrich is expected to brief the Village Board, as well as its staff and lawyers, on progress made during a series of private negotiations between Dietrich, Town Board member Ryan Lippert, library director Kathy Klager and Library Board Chairman Emil Goldoski, according to Dietrich and other Village officials.

While Dietrich and Lippert, in separate interviews, provided different perspectives on the status of the talks, they agreed the private discussions have been productive and have helped build a relationship of trustee between them at a time when their respective elected boards have been carrying on a "Hatfield and McCoys" relationship.

Dietrich indicated a "tentative agreement" was reached during a meeting Thursday night, July 7, at the library. He declined to provide specifics on the agreement, but said he would brief Village trustees during the closed session.

"I think my fellow trustees should be told about it before they read it the newspaper," Dietrich said.

Lippert, however, described the proposals as "an idea that intrigued both of us and we want to look into it further." But, he said, there is no tentative agreement.

"The bottom line at the end of the day is there is no agreement until it has been approved by both boards," he said.

Lippert said he has not yet briefed Town Board members on the proposal that may create a new funding formula by which the two communities contribute to library operations.

The present agreement provides each community's contribution is based on the value of residential and commercial real estate as determined by the state.

Those property values are nearly equal in the two communities and consequently the town and village have each paid about $425,000 to $450,000 annually toward the library's operations.

Lippert said a new agreement may create a funding formula in which the two communities would contribute to library operations based on their respective property values, population, and library usage.

The proposed formula is similar to one used by several other jointly owned community libraries in the state including Mequon and Thiensville, Lippert added.

The formula, if adopted, would appear to strike a compromise between the two communities and the Library Board

Klager asked the communities last year to begin negotiations on a new agreement since the existing agreement's terms and conditions change in 2014, after bonds for the library building are paid off. After 2014, the agreement will continue from year to year with either community having the ability to terminate the agreement.

Klager said unless that clause is changed, future planning for the library is "problematic" because there would be no assurances the library can survive from one year to the next.

Sussex officials said they were willing to change the language in the agreement but wanted to maintain the existing funding formula. Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said he would not agree to new language until the funding formula was changed.

Gehrke argued the existing formula is unfair to the town because Sussex residents use the library more than Lisbon residents.

Gehrke said in an interview Monday that he has not yet been briefed by Lippert on the talks.

Gehrke and Village President Greg Goetz agreed to the idea of having a village trustee and a town board member meet separately in an effort to hammer out an agreement. The two elected chief executives were hoping that the private negotiations between the two and the library staff would keep those talks separate from other issues that have divided the town and village boards.

Both men said their respective boards want to continue joint operation of the library and they expressed confidence that some agreement would be worked out between the communities.


Sussex may support new library plan

New funding agreement is discussed

Village of Sussex - There may be a consensus building among Village trustees to support a proposal to change the formula that determines how much money the Village and Town of Lisbon each contribute to the operations of the Pauline Haas Library.

The proposal, however, has not been presented to the Town Board and there have been no public discussions of it by either municipalities. It is unclear when the citizens of the two communities will have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposal.

The proposal calls for each community's contribution to the library to be based on the size of each community's tax base, population and the amount of use of the library by the residents of each community

Presently, the Town and Village each annually pay between $425,000 and $450,000, based on their respective commercial and residential real estate values, their tax base, as determined by state authorities. Town Chairman Matt Gherkin has been insisting on a change in that formula because, he argues, Village residents use the library more than town residents and therefore the Village should pay more to support the library.

The new plan is a product of private negotiations between Village Trustee Tim Dietrich, Town Supervisor Ryan Lippert and representatives of the library.

The proposal was the first item on the agenda of an approximately one-hour closed Village Board meeting Thursday, July 14.

Dietrich declined to provide details of the discussion other than to say no one on the Village Board voiced opposition to the tentative proposal and there may be a consensus building in support of it.

But, he emphasized, there are number of details to be worked out and issues resolved, which he said he would not discuss, before the proposal has a chance of becoming reality.

Dietrich said he intended to meet again on August 11 with Lippert, Library Director Kathy Klager, and Library Board Chairman Emil Glodoski.

Lippert said last week he may present details of the proposal to the Town Board after the August 11 meeting. Lippert has said it is too premature to discuss the proposal with town supervisors until library officials complete additional research on the proposal and Dietrich met with the Village Board.

Gehrke and Village President Greg Goetz appointed Lippert and Dietrich to try to negotiate the concepts of a new library agreement.

Klager has urged the communities to adopt a new agreement because the present agreement will become a year-to-year contact after 2014, when the debt on the library building is jointly paid off by the communities. Klager has said it is difficult for the library board and staff to engage in long-range planning if there is only a short-term agreement between the communities.

According to several sources, some of the key issues that must be resolved are how to implement the agreement, amend it in the event of changes in the formula, and resolve any disputes between Lisbon and Sussex over the contract.

Apparently there are discussions regarding whether there should be three parts to the formula - tax base, population and library usage - or whether library usage and population should be combined into one of two elements of the formula.

There are also questions about what to do if there is a change in one of the components of the formula during the life of the agreement. For example, sould there be an adjustment of the village's contribution if there was a dramatic change in the Village's tax base as the result of a large new commercial development along Highway 164.

The issue of how to resolve disputes is a particularly sensitive one. The Town and Village are presently trying to find a way to resolve the dispute created by the Village's intervention into a citizen group's effort to incorporate the Town into the Village.


Library salaries debated

No funding formula talk at budget meeting

Library director: Raises will keep quality staff

No funding formula talk at budget meeting

Village of Sussex - Debate over salary increases for Pauline Haass Library employees dominated discussions recently between the Lisbon Town Board and Sussex Village Board regarding the proposed $1.3 million 2012 library budget.

Village President Greg Goetz disagreed with Town Chairman Matt Gehrke's argument that a 3-percent pay increase was too high, considering the hard economic times.

However, both Gehrke and Goetz have indicated they anticipate their respective boards will approve their community's contributions to the library budget.

As part of a joint municipal operating agreement, the communities share the cost of retiring building bonds and most of the operating costs, based on the community's respective tax bases.

The town's share of the library cost will be included in the Town Board's proposed 2012 tax levy.

The library budget calls for Sussex to contribute $561,813 to debt retirement and operations and Lisbon to contribute $530,752.

Lisbon's share of the debt retirement is $2,167 higher than 2011, and Sussex's will pay $1,803 more for debt service in 2012 than 2011.

The reason for the increases in the community's share of the debt service is because debt payments are scheduled to be higher in 2012 that 2011.

Sussex's share of the operating cost, $454,875, is expected to be $194 lower than 2011, while Lisbon's share of $429,725 is $194 higher in 2012.

The reason for the decrease in costs to Sussex and the increase for Lisbon is because there was a slight decrease in Sussex's tax base during the past year.

The method that determines each community's share of the operations and debt costs has become a contentious issue.

Gehrke wants the formula changed to reflect the heavier usage of the library by village residents. His proposal could cost the village as much as $80,000 in additional payments.

Village officials suggest a formula that is based on the amount of each community's tax base, population and usage of the library.

They say their plan will save Lisbon $13,000 a year.

But there was no mention of the ongoing negotiations over a new formula at the Sept. 27 meeting at the library with the two municipal governing bodies; instead they focused solely on the 2012 budget.

Library Director Kathy Klager said library operating expenses are expected to increase in 2012 by 1.2 percent or $11,815.

The biggest increase is $10,600 for materials that will include a $4,483 payment to a statewide electronic book consortium that will give library patrons access to $1 million worth of electronic books, according to Klager.

Total employee wages and benefits will decrease by $12,014 despite the pay increases, according to Klager.

She explained that new state law requires public employees covered by the state pension plan to pay 50 percent of the contributions to their pension. The new law creates a decrease in library cost since it ordinarily had to pay for all of the employee pension contributions.

Klager and Library Board President Emil Glodoski said those savings can be used to help pay for 3-percent pay increases. They argued that the increases are necessary because salary levels at the library are no longer competitive with surrounding communities.

Even with the increase, "Pauline Haass Public Library wages will remain as much as 25 percent below nearby libraries," said Klager.

Lisbon Supervisor Dan Fischer challenged the appropriateness of the pay raises, pointing out that many taxpayers in the communities have not received a raise for a number of years because of the economy.

Gehrke suggested the pay raises might be phased in over two years.

He questioned how the salary increases could be paid for in future years if the municipalities could not raise taxes.

Goetz rebutted that the library needs to take advantage of the "unique opportunity" provided by the reduction in pension benefit costs.

He pointed out that there has been turnover among the professional staff at the library.

He said because the library salaries are not competitive it is difficult to attract high-quality employees. Municipalities may raise and contribute funds to the library but are not authorized to instruct the Library Board on how to spend those funds.


Pauline Haass makes book browsing easier

Signs for subject matter are now displayed in the Pauline Haass Public Library. The new signs and shelving are part of the library's reorganization that creates more of a bookstore feel for browsing. Photo by: Kelly [email protected]

Dewey system takes backseat new browsing method

The Pauline Haass Public Library has reinvented how you search for its books. Before, patrons may have found themselves cross-eyed trying to decipher the Dewey Decimal system while searching for a book. Now they can simply browse a subject area to find many related offerings.

Earlier this month, the library unveiled Project BEE: Browsing Easier for Everyone. BEE is a hybrid of what other libraries have done to organize their information to make books easier to find.

After closing for a few days to shuffle 37,000 volumes of books to a mobile book cart and then to new shelving, patrons can move more freely around the library. Signs direct you to different subject areas and book spines have specific icons that show they relate, like a bright red heart on all romance novels.

"A 2009 study showed that 63 percent of library users want to go straight to the right area without having to use a catalog," said Kathy Klager, library director. "We know from watching our customers that the tall forest of nonfiction shelving, designated only by Dewey Decimal numbers, is intimidating. We don't often see people going into those aisles to browse. We wanted to change that; there are terrific books in there, and we just have to make them easier to come across."

Users like it

Becky Murray, head of adult services, said the reorganization has been well-received by patrons.

"It's been a little hard with things on different shelves but people like the new groupings. Things are now together in genres and in alphabetical order," said Murray.

She said the library has kept the same functionality it always had but what's changed is how you browse.

BEE groups its books by subject which puts books in shelving together; in the old system they may have been separated.

An example Murray gave is someone looking for information on a specific disease, like HIV or diabetes. could find ways to cure it in one section, but might miss other books on living with the disease shelved across the library.

"In the health category the majority of books used to be in the 600s, but some in the 300s might be a social science way of looking like living with HIV or diabetes as opposed to treating the disease. We wanted to bring those together," Murray explained.

Keep it simple

While the new concept is all about keeping things simple, the process to get to this point was a hefty undertaking. The library began looking at ways to better serve its patrons in May 2010. Staff watched a webinar last December called "Some Dewey, Some Don't" created by a library in Illinois.

"We must adjust to our customers, not expect them to use the library the way we do," reads a handout explaining how BEE came about.

During the year staff visited libraries that have launched their own reorganizations. From those visits, they decided to come up with BEE, which is a hybrid approach of keeping the Dewey system while offering subject browsing similar to a bookstore.

Staff was able to get a deal on extra shelving from Borders bookstores that closed this spring, and they also received a grant from the Pauline Haass Library foundation to purchase the shelving and create signs.

Pilot launched

Earlier this year, Murray said they launched a pilot version of BEE with home, garden and food sections tracking circulation among those books. Murray said from June to December circulation in that section went up 11 percent.

"The new garden area includes books about gardening and landscaping, which were aisles apart in the Dewey system because one is in the 600s and the other in the 700s," explained Murray. "But most people want to look at both of them when thinking about their yards. In the old arrangement, when they found a gardening or landscaping book they assumed they were seeing all the library had; they never knew that there were many more books in another aisle."

Klager is sure that there will be disagreements about where a book has been assigned. "We know that a customer will tell us that a particular title belongs in suspense, not mystery; or psychology, not relationships.

"That's wonderful. It shows our library users are engaged, love to talk about what they're reading, and know that we listen to them. Changing a book's category takes less than one minute, so if we've made an unpopular call on a book it's easy to change."

For more information on Project BEE or other library services, call (262) 246-5180.


Lisbon looking at library options

Town of Lisbon — Town Chairman Matt Gehrke has approached officials in the Village and City of Pewaukee about the possibility of the Town of Lisbon joining them in sharing the funding and operations of the Pewaukee Library.

Gehrke said the discussions are part of the Town Board's efforts to explore "all alternatives" to the existing joint library agreement with the Village of Sussex. Those alternatives also include the possibility of talking to the Town of Merton and Village of Hartland.

IN a memo he sent to officials Gehrke has told officials in the two Pewaukee communities "Lisbon and Sussex will be dissolving their joint library at year end 2014" and "The Lisbon Town Board will like to continue to directly fund a library" in a memo he sent to officials.

Gehrke has pointed out that the Pewaukee Library is the second library most used by Lisbon residents.

Gehrke is proposing the town contribute about $300,00 a year to the Pewaukee library and pay for "unique costs involved with adding Lisbon."

The Pewaukee Library is similar in size and structure of the Pauline Haass Library in Sussex. Both are defined as joint libraries that receive a majority of their funding from two communities through a funding agreement.

Lisbon would not be entitled to any of the assets of the Pewaukee Library, and Lisbon's library assets obtained before Jan 1, 2015, would remain Lisbon's, according to Gehrke's proposal.

Lisbon's largest remaining library asset is about 65 acres of farmland at the southwest corner of Hickory and Lake Five roads. The Pauline Haass Library Board is suing the town over "control and custody" of the land.

Village of Pewaukee officials recently received Gehrke's proposal and are still reviewing it, according to Pewaukee Library Director Jennie Stoltz.

Stoltz predicted that both city and village officials would want a longer-term agreement and were not likely to go along with a proposal that included a payment from Lisbon that is based on a minimum amount the town would have to pay to avoid its residents having to pay a county library tax.

The two communities now share most of the operation costs of the library based on their respective tax bases The city pays 74 percent or $674,323 and the village pays 26 percent, or about $236,924.

Lisbon pays approximately $425,000 each year in operating costs for the Pauline Haass Library, in addition to about $65,000 toward a construction bond on the library building that will be retired at the end of this year.

The inability of Lisbon and Sussex to agree on a new funding formula is one of the reasons their agreement is likely to be terminated at the end of the year. Gehrke is insisting Sussex pay a greater share of the library cost since, according to him, Sussex residents use the library 75 percent more than town residents.

Town residents would have to pay an estimated 26 cents per $100,000 assessed value for the county library tax if the Sussex joint library agreement is dissolved. Gehrke has estimated the tax would total somewhere between $290,000 and $300,000, which he says is what the town would be willing to contribute to Pewaukee's, or any other surrounding community's, library.

Pewaukee City Administrator Tammy LaBorde noted in a March 6 letter to Gehrke that any agreement between Lisbon and the Pewaukees would have to be approved by the Waukesha County Board. In addition, she said, the village and city might expect the town to contribute toward the assets of the library.

Stoltz has also expressed concern, according to LaBorde, that a consolidation of three communities would increase the Pewaukee Library service area population from 20,000 to 30,000, which, because of state standards, might require the library to hire more staff, be open for more hours and maintain a larger collection of items and materials for loans.

Stoltz is also concerned the Pewaukee Library could lose some county revenues because a majority of Lisbon residents would continue using the Pauline Haass Library, which would be reimbursed by the county with tax revenues paid for by Pewaukee taxpayers.

While describing the talks as "very preliminary," Gehrke said he hoped those issues could be resolved.


Library dispute continues

Village of Sussex — The court-ordered mediation intended to resolve the dispute over about 65 acres of farmland between the Town of Lisbon and the Pauline Haass Library Board is not likely to begin soon and may eventually include the Village of Sussex, according to both Lisbon and Library Board representatives.

Village of Sussex officials, however, are reiterating their intentions to fight any effort by the town to force the village into the mediation sessions.

Village officials say they should not be involved in the talks because they have no jurisdiction over any assets owned or controlled by the Library Board.

Town officials say the village should be part of the talks because it was a joint municipal agreement reached about 25 years ago that created the library. The Haass land was donated to the town for library purposes. The town uses proceeds from renting the farmland to help pay its share of the library expenses.

Meanwhile, Town Chairman Matt Gehrke, in a nearly 1,200-word essay in the town's semiannual newsletter, spelled out in detail to Lisbon residents why he and the Town Board are planning to terminate the municipal agreement with the village at the end of the year.

In the newsletter, Gehrke said it was "a near certainty that the joint library will be dissolved at year end 2014."

He asserted that Sussex had 75 percent more resident users of the library than Lisbon. As a result, he continued, Lisbon's library contribution was $5.25 per resident use, compared to Sussex's $3.15 per resident use. He argued that the town's contribution to the library amounts to about 12 percent of the town budget, while Sussex's contribution amounts to about 7 percent of its total budget.

In the newsletter, Gehrke suggested it was Sussex's fault the two communities could not reach an agreement on a new long-term funding plan for the library.

He said a Sussex representative, later identified as Village Trustee Tim Dietrich, had failed to support an agreement the communities had reached by voting as a Library Board member to sue the town over custody and control of the Haass land.

Dietrich later told The Sun he voted for the lawsuit in his capacity as a Library Board member, not as a village trustee. He also pointed out the two sides never reached a formal agreement that was approved by both municipal boards.

In January 2013, three months after the Library Board filed the lawsuit, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge James Kieffer asked the town and Library Board to go into mediation in an effort to resolve the dispute before a trial was scheduled for either late this year or early next year.

Library Board attorney David Hase told Lake Country Publications earlier this week that he does not anticipate mediation beginning until mid to late summer.

"It is too soon to start mediation," he said.

Hase pointed out that lawyers for both sides have not begun the process of discovering all of the evidence available for a trial and framing the issues that might be the subject of the mediation.

He also noted that the town has filed a lawsuit against the Village of Sussex, which would automatically make it a third party in the litigation between the town and Library Board.

Town Administrator Elizabeth Kraus said town officials will insist that the village be part of the negotiations with the Library Board.

She echoed the arguments made by Gehrke and town attorney Katherine Gutenkunst that the village should be involved in the mediation because it was the joint agreement between the town and village that created the library and any agreement reached in mediation between the town and library boards would have to be ratified by the Sussex Village Board.

Sussex Village Administrator Jeremy Smith the village was expected to take steps to prevent it from being required to participate in the mediation sessions.


Lisbon to vote to end Haass library agreement

Lisbon — The town board is expected to formally take action next week to terminate at the end of this year the long-standing agreement with the Village of Sussex over sharing most of the operating costs of the Pauline Haass Libary.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said a decision to place the issue on the June 23 meeting agenda was made during a closed session of the Town Board on May 27 when the board discussed legal strategy with town lawyer Katheryn Gutenkunst.

The board could have voted to terminate the contract following the closed session, but Supervisor Steve Panten persuaded his colleagues to wait until the June 23 meeting so town residents would have an opportunity to voice their opinion on whether the agreement should be terminated, according to several sources.

"I think all of the board pretty much agreed with Steve. We want to make this as open and transparent as possible. We had pretty much left it up to Kathy to decide when we should notify the village. She thinks now is as good a time as any," Gehrke said.

"It is a cost saving measure. We are trying to reduce lawyer fees for both communities," Gutenkunst told Lake Country Publications.

She explained that negotiations between the town and the village over how to divide the library's assets could begin immediately now that the town has notified the village of the town's intent to terminate the agreement at the end of this year.

She said those negotiations might avoid a law suit between the communities over dividing the library's assets and also will eliminate the need for the town and Library Board to continue their legal battle over control of 65 acres farm land and other assets that the widow Pauline Haass donated to the town for library purposes.

Dispute on what happens

There is a dispute between town and village officials over what happens when the contract is terminated. The town contends that the library can longer exist as a jointly owned municipal library and, according to the agreement, its assets must be divided between the communities.

Village officials have said they are prepared to assume control of the library and operate it at its existing level of service, and since the town will no longer help fund library operations, the town is not entitled to the library's assets.

"This is no shocker. They have said all along they were going to pull out. We understand the town's position (about dividing library assets). The village has a different one. We will just have to see how things work out," said Village Administrator Jeremy Smith.

For the past four years the town and village have been at an impasse over a new funding agreement, with Gehrke insisting the village should pay a bigger share of the operating costs since village residents use the library more than town residents.

In 2013, the town contributed approximate $420,000 and the village contributed about $460,000 to the library budget of about $1.2 million.

Town residents will be required to pay an additional real estate tax to Waukesha County in 2015 and beyond — estimated to be about 26 cents per $100,000 assessed valuation — as a result of the termination of the agreement.

Subject to a tax

The tax revenues are used by the county to reimburse those communities that have libraries that provide services to communities that do not have libraries. Sussex, if it continues to operate the library, will receive most of the revenues from the Lisbon tax payments.

The town and village residents were exempt from the tax because of the joint municipal agreement that funded the library.

However, town taxpayers were paying more per capita to help fund the library agreement than they would pay in the county tax, according to town officials.

Town officials also are exploring the possibility of joining the Pewaukee Library and sharing in the cost of that system.

During 2011 and 2012, there was some disagreement among town board members over how, or whether, to extend the library funding agreement with the village.

In April of 2013, two candidates for the town board — Hannah Heinritz and Panten — were elected following campaigns that challenged the idea of a new library agreement. As a result of the election, Supervisor Joe Osterman became a key vote for a new agreement on the board.

But, the Library Board infuriated Osterman when they filed the law suit against the town.

Since then, the board has solidly backed Gehrke's position that the town would terminate the agreement unless the Library Board drops the law suit and the village pays a bigger share of the library operating costs.


Pauline Haass Library will not have to close after funding agreement ends

Village of Sussex — The Pauline Haass Library will not have to shut down, even temporarily, when the agreement between the village of Sussex and the town of Lisbon that funds the library is terminated at the end of this year, according to a state official.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit between the town and the library board that could cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars appears likely to continue even though the board will be out of business at the end of the year, according to a lawyer for the town.

The town board was expected at its Monday, June 24, meeting to vote to dissolve the agreement with the village that provides nearly $900,000 of the library's approximately $1.2 million annual budget. The meeting occurred after Lake Country Publications deadlines.

Town officials have anticipated that the two municipalities would begin negotiations over dividing the assets of the library because the 26-year-old, joint-municipal agreement requires the assets be divided "should termination of this agreement result in the closing of the library."

However, John De Bacher, director of library development for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, has told Lake Country Publications that the library does not have to be closed unless a court intervened.

De Bacher said the library can continue to operate if the village of Sussex is willing to provide an operating budget, staff and maintain the library according to state standards.

The village board has indicated its willingness to operate the library without town of Lisbon participation. However, village trustees will have to appoint a new library board, according to De Bacher.

De Bacher said the state was willing to allow the library to continue operations after the agreement was terminated because there are no precedent setting court decisions that address what happens when a joint-municipal library agreement was dissolved.

The two municipalities have not been able to agree on a new funding formula for the library after nearly four years of negotiations.

Lisbon Town Chairman Matt Gehrke insisted throughout the negotiations that Sussex pay a larger share of the operating costs because Sussex residents use the library more than town residents. The village contributes about $460,000 to library operations, the town about $420,000.

After two new supervisors were elected in April 2013, the five member town board was divided over whether to even consider a new agreement with village.

However, the town board became united against a new agreement after the library board filed a lawsuit seeking custody and control over 65 acres of farm land that Pauline Haass had donated to the town to be used for library purposes.

Earlier this month, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge James R. Keiffer rejected a motion by a library board attorney asking for a ruling in favor of the library without further hearings.

According to court documents, Keiffer ruled on June 9 that there are "genuine issues of material fact in dispute" and scheduled a pretrial conference for Oct. 20.

Earlier this year, Keiffer ordered out-of-court mediation between the library and the town board.

However, attorneys for both sides say they cannot begin those negotiations until they have completed their work preparing for a trial that could be held later this year. However, it now appears unlikely that either a trail or mediation can be completed before the existing library board is dissolved at the end of the year.

So far, the library board has spent about $24,500 in legal fees as part of the lawsuit, according to Library Director Kathy Klager. Klager said there has been no discussions among library board members regarding whether they should continue with the lawsuit.

Town Attorney Katheryn Gutenkunst told Lake Country Publications that lawyers for the village and town should begin negotiations dissolving the agreement and dividing library assets as soon as possible in order to avoid further legal bills for either Sussex or Lisbon taxpayers.


Lisbon terminates Sussex library agreement

By Kelly Smith

June 23, 2014 10:18 p.m. |  Living Lake Country Reporter

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.


Lisbon Town Board ends library agreement with Sussex

Town of Lisbon — After more than an hour of intense discussions with town residents, the town board on Monday, June 23, unanimously voted to terminate the 27-year-old joint municipal library agreement with the village of Sussex that funds most of the operations of the Pauline Haass Library.

The town contributes about $426,000 annually to library operations, while the village adds another $468,000 to the library's approximately $1.2 million budget. Funds from Waukesha County and other revenue sources provide the remainder of the library's revenues.

The library will not be forced to close when the funding agreement, created in 1987, ends Dec. 31. Sussex intends to take over library operations, and some village officials have pledged to maintain the existing level of services.

Town residents will be allowed to continue to use the Pauline Haass library, along with other library facilities in Waukesha County, but they will have to pay a county library tax, estimated to be about 26 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.

Nearly two dozen residents attended the meeting, with nine of them speaking in favor of continuing the agreement and five speaking against it. Town board members spent nearly an hour in a sometimes-emotional discussion with town residents about the pros and cons of continuing the agreement.

Before last week's meeting, a consensus had developed among the town board members to terminate the agreement because of its costs, a lawsuit filed against the town by the library board, and the results of the April municipal elections.

Two new board members — Steven Panten and Hannah Heinritz — were elected to the board after campaigning against the library agreement.

Some of the residents who attended the meeting were part of a last-ditch effort by the Friends of the Library to save the funding agreement.

Slap in the face

Former library board President Emil Glodoski, a town resident, suggested the library will be forced to reduce services if the agreement is not renewed.

"The library will take a hit," he said.

"This is a slap in the face to Sussex. It will set back for a generation — maybe more than a generation — relationships between Lisbon and Sussex," he added.

Some of the town residents argued that the potential savings to them — possibly as much as a $100 — by paying the county library tax compared to the cost of the library agreement was not worth the risk of losing services provided by the library.

"The amount of money is minimal," said Karen Murphy, "We need to keep our communities together."

Some of the residents asserted that the late Pauline Haass would not have approved of the town board severing the agreement with Sussex.

However, another former library board president, Robert Williams, noted that Haass donated the land and about $250,000 in cash for the town board, not the village, to determine the best use of the land and money for library purposes.

Williams, a former town supervisor, emphasized that town residents would be allowed to continue to use the library.

Town resident Gary Gehlback added that by terminating the agreement the town was making available additional funds that could be used for purposes other than a library.

Why end agreement?

After the discussion, each of the five members of the Town Board outlined their reasons for ending the agreement.

Heinritz said the town and village have different philosophies regarding government spending, and the town's more-conservative fiscal positions were not being respected by a majority of the library board.

Supervisor Ryan Lippert, a member of the library board and the town's representative in negotiations with village, said, "I have spent four years of my life trying to get an agreement. I wanted an agreement more than anybody, but it just did not work out. It is unfortunate."

Lippert added that an agreement providing the town would pay 60 percent and the village would 40 percent of the municipal costs of the library had been worked out, but that pact was broken when the library board decided to file a lawsuit against the town seeking control of 65 acres of farmland donated by the late Haass to the town for library purposes.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke noted that because of the funding agreement, the town was devoting 12 percent of its budget to library services, while other communities in the county were providing 6 to 8 percent of their budgets to library services.

In addition, Gehrke said the town board will attempt to lower the town's 2015 tax levy in an effort to offset the additional county library tax residents will have to pay.

Panten noted that 30 percent of town residents use other community library services. By ending the agreement, those other community libraries will receive a more equitable share of town tax revenues to help pay for the services they provide town residents.

Panten added the Library Board was paying too much money for salary increases and new programs.

Supervisor Joe Osterman said he warned the library board if it sued the town it would destroy any chance of a long-term library funding agreement between the town and village.

"I don't think we should be funding someone who is suing us and making us pay for half of their legal fees," Osterman said, noting the town is helping pay for the library lawyers, since the town contributes to the operating cost of the library

Town board members also noted that until last week there had been limited public interest in the negotiations between the town, village and library that had been going on for nearly four years.

"This issue has been brewing for years, It is sad to me that it has to come to the last day before people start showing up," noted Heinritz.


Ending Pauline Haass library agreement has legal, financial implications

Town of Lisbon - Town Chairman Matt Gehrke says he anticipates the Town Board will set aside for tax relief a portion of the $426,000 in additional revenues the town will gain in 2015 as a result of terminating the joint municipal library funding agreement with the Village of Sussex.

However, Gehrke concedes he does not know how much money the board will agree to set aside in an effort to provide town tax relief to residents who are likely to pay about $75 in additional Waukesha County taxes as a result of the library agreement ending in 2014.

Town residents will be required to pay a county library tax since the town will no longer be contributing to providing library services for its residents.

The 2014 library tax rate is 27 cents per $1,000 which equals about $75 for the owner of a home assessed for tax purposes at $280,000.

However, Waukesha County Federated Library System (W

The Town Board voted unanimously last week to terminate the joint funding agreement that paid for most of the $1.2 million in annual operating costs for the library. The town's share of those cost is about $426,000 which can now became available for other purposes.

Gehrke said he wants to see some of the money used for highway repairs. Supervisor Joe Osterman said he would like to a see a portion of the money used for establishing a fund to help eventually pay the salary and expenses related to a Waukesha County sheriff's deputy


 

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