Updated: Library Negotiation Team to Become Formal County Entity
By Patrick Lynn
County leaders have postponed meetings schedule for this week which would have formed a committee to negotiate terms of the Portage County Library lease. Some members of the County Board of Supervisors said they worried about any committee that wasn’t officially formed by county government.
The meeting was scheduled to be canceled with very little notice late Tuesday night. Though no specific reason was given, Marylin Hutkowski from the Corporation Counsel’s office said the cancelation was “due to certain things that happened with the committee.”
Portage County Board Chairman Phil Idsvoog said the cancelation was due to concerns about the legitimacy of the team, as voiced by several County Board Members.
“There was concern from several County Board Supervisors that the committee wasn’t legitimately recognized by the board,” Idsvoog said Wednesday. He added a team charged with formally entering into negotiations with the city could be formed during next Wednesday’s Executive/Operations Committee meeting at 7 AM, held at the Portage County Annex Building, 1562 Strongs Avenue. That meeting is open to the public.
Idsvoog said any recommendation to form a negotiation team by the Ex/Ops Committee will be forwarded to the full Board for possible approval next month.
Once formally recognized by the County Board, Idsvoog said the committee could then decide how to proceed with negotiations for the county’s library lease with the City of Stevens Point.
The library needs about $500K in repairs but officials from Stevens Point and Portage County can’t agree on who should pay for the updates. The county’s lease for the city-owned building expired in 2012 but was extended for renewal negotiations.
Under the lease the county was responsible for routine maintenance costs up to $2,000 per project, while the city paid for more pricey maintenance. County leaders now say that cap should be increased to $5,000 per project. Mayor Andrew Halverson disagrees, saying city residents already pay county taxes, and raising city-paid expenses would be “taxing the taxpayers twice”.
The library needs a repairs to the roof, water heater and heating system, among other things. Portage County Executive Patty Dreier has said the county might move the library outside of the downtown area if an agreement can’t be reached.
The meeting has been canceled until further notice.