Haass Library talks failing
Printed Living Sussex Sun, Nov. 11, 2014
Library Board Attorney David Hase confirmed the talks "have abated" and no further mediation sessions have been scheduled after two meetings in October failed to produce an agreement in the dispute between the town and library board over custody and control of the approximately 65 acres that Haass donated to the town to be used for library purposes.
Town Attorney Kathryn Guntenkunst said she emailed the town's latest settlement offer to retired Judge Patrick Snyder, who conducted the mediation sessions about a week ago and has not received a response.
However, both Guntenkunst and Hase said they are preparing for a trial over whether the town should be required to turn over the land to the library board.
Town officials have argued that according to the joint municipal agreement that created the library, they are not required to turn the land over to the library board.
Library officials say state law requires all donations to libraries must be under the custody and control of a library board.
Preparations for trail had been halted by both sides while the mediation sessions, which also included village of Sussex officials, were being conducted.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge James R. Kieffer is expected to discuss a potential trial schedule with the lawyers on Nov. 18.
However, Kieffer may be asked to resolve some key issues that will determine whether there will be a trail. The lawsuit was filed by the existing joint municipal library board, which will be dissolved on Dec. 31
The existing library and its governing board are being dissolved because the town of Lisbon decided to end the 27-year agreement that operated and funded the library.
Creating a new board
The Sussex Village Board was scheduled to adopt an ordinance creating a new municipal library and appointing a new library board on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
The newly appointed village library board will be an extension of the existing joint municipal library board, according to Hase.
Hase says no formal action by either the village board or the new library board will be necessary in order to continue the lawsuit filed against the town by the existing library board.
Guntenkunst disagrees. She argues the new library and library board created by the village is a totally new and separate entity from the existing joint municipal library and board and therefore cannot be involved in a legal action.
On Aug. 27, Kieffer ordered the mediation sessions include the village of Sussex and address how the joint municipal library's assets would be divided by the town and village in the event of disillusionment of the agreement.
Who would retain control of the farm land and whether it would be included among the library's assets were also supposed to be subjects of the mediation.
However, the three parties could not reach an agreement on whether the assets should be divided, according to sources close to the negotiations.
Town officials argued that according to the joint municipal agreement they were entitled to a share of the assets since the agreement and the library were being dissolved.
Village officials argued that the town was not entitled to any of the assets since the town dissolved the agreement. Furthermore, village officials argued they are going to continue operations of the library.
In addition, the parties could not even reach an agreement on the total value of the library's assets.