Paddock Lake to seek legal review of Community Library Board make-up issue

Photo by Sanja Gjenero via

Photo by Sanja Gjenero via

The Paddock lake Village Board wants its attorney to review the legal ramifications before making a decision on a proposal from Salem on resolving the Community Library Board representation issue.

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 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.

In discussing Salem’s proposal on Wednesday, Paddock Lake Village Board members decided to first ask their attorney for his opinion of the options.

“I firmly believe it comes down to interpretation of state statute,” said Village President Terry Burns. He wants to see if a legal case can be made that leaving the arrangement as is is still OK.

“I’m not going to make this kind of decision without a legal interpretation of the statute,” Burns said.

Trustee Kathy Christenson pointed out she feels the real issue is how the Kenosha County Public Library System, of which the Community Library is a member and through which its state funding flows, interprets the rules.

Tim Popanda, village administrator, said he also will be touching base with state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, state Sen. Van Wanggaard and County Executive Jim Kreuser about the issue.

Twin Lakes Village Board also discussed the issue in the context of Salem’s proposal earlier this month. That board also decided to see if there were other remedies short of enacting Salem’s plan.


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