Salem proposing gentleman’s agreement to fix Community Library Board problem

Photo by Sanja Gjenero via

Photo by Sanja Gjenero via

Salem is proposing using a gentleman’s agreement among the five Community Library member municipalities to solve a problem the state has with the Community Library Board’s makeup.

Since its founding as a joint library in 1980, the library has had a governing board made up of two members from each member municipality and an additional member that rotates between Wilmot and Westosha high school districts. The current municipal members are Salem, Twin Lakes, Paddock Lake, Randall and Silver Lake.

That arrangement was apparently allowed at the time, but state statutes have since changed. They now call for members on the governing board to reflect the population of the respective municipalities. Under current state guidelines the board should be composed of five members appointed by Salem, two appointed by Twin Lakes and one each appointed by Paddock Lake, Randall, Silver Lake and Wilmot/Westosha high schools.

The municipalities here like the equal representation and have resisted calls to bring the board into compliance with state statutes. But this year, the state Department of Instruction began to threaten to withhold state funding if the change is not made. That could set off a series of actions that likely would end up with the library dissolving.

A proposal from Salem discussed by the Twin Lakes Village Board at its Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, seeks to work around the apportioned representation to keep the current board makeup in place. Salem is proposing a gentleman’s agreement that would have the library’s agreement changed to the current state statutes, but have Salem only appoint two members from its borders and then use its other three seats to appoint an additional Paddock Lake, Randall and Silver Lake representative, as suggested by those municipalities.

“While there is there is need for a level of trust that has to be understood, considering the excellent history of cooperation between the parties, I see no reason that this should not work well and retain the equality of representation,” a letter from Salem Chairman and Library Board member Diann Tesar to member municipalities says.

Twin Lakes board members discussed the proposal and most did not seem opposed. But at the suggestion of Trustee Kevin Fitzgerald, currently also the Community Library Board president, the board agreed to explore whether the state’s determination that the Community Library must change its board representation can be challenged, perhaps even with a court action.

Village administrator Jennifer Frederick said she also had concerns about other wording in the proposed agreement, including designating Twin Lakes as the library fiscal agent, which she said she would explore with Salem representatives.

The documents from the Twin Lakes Village Board member packet on this topic can be viewed here.


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