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County Board mulls official support for Brokaw cooperative plan

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The Marathon County Board of Supervisors on Thursday is expected to review an official resolution that would throw support solidly behind a cooperative boundary plan Wausau is fighting in court.

The proposed resolution, embedded below, is included in a packet of documents being supplied to members of the board in advance of tonight’s meeting. If approved, the resolution would officially support a proposed permanent boundary agreement for the villages of Brokaw and Maine and the town of Texas and “expresses…concerns over the city of Wausau’s use of taxpayer dollars associated with litigation relating to” the plan.

Wausau has spent more than $196,000 on legal expenses related to the two cases associated with the plan, according to city documents.

Maine residents voted in December 2015 to incorporate to village status to allow for a new boundary agreement to help Brokaw resolve its financial crisis. Since Brokaw’s paper mill shuttered in 2012, Brokaw has struggled with more than $3 million in debt.

Wausau responded in February 2016 to Maine’s incorporation by filing a lawsuit that accused Maine of violating open meetings laws in the planning process. The lawsuit was filed in part to allow a handful of property owners to annex their land to Wausau after the vote was final.

Then in November, Marathon County Circuit Judge Jill Falstad ruled against the city, leaving the village’s status intact.

Most recently, Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Jill Falstad on June 9 dismissed a case Wausau filed against the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Wausau challenged the state’s decision to approve a cooperative boundary agreement formed in 2016 between Maine, the town of Texas and the village of Brokaw. Wausau is appealing that ruling.

Months ago, Mayor Robert Mielke told Wausau Pilot & Review he is personally hoping for an end to the litigation but that some city council members feel strongly they have a case and want to continue.

This is not the first time the county board has contemplated getting involved in the dispute. In May, emails sent by Brad Karger to neighboring municipalities stated that county leaders were even then becoming increasingly concerned that Wausau’s lawsuit amounts to “unproductive litigation.” At that time, the county board considered helping Maine with their mounting legal debt to move the issue forward, but did not take any action.

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