JUDGE rules against WAUSAU in lawsuit (for now)

Marathon County Circuit Judge Jill Falstad this month tossed out a lawsuit seeking to return Maine to town status, ruling that she does not have the power to take such action in the case.

Maine residents voted in December to incorporate to village status, paving the way for a new boundary agreement to help Brokaw resolve its financial crisis. Brokaw and its population of 250 is struggling with more than $3 million in debt since its central business, a paper mill, closed in 2012.

Wausau’s lawsuit alleged that Maine violated open meetings laws when planning the incorporation process, and asked the judge to void the incorporation on that basis. The lawsuit was filed in part to allow some property owners to annex their land to Wausau after the vote was final.

Falstad ruled the court does not have the power to invalidate the incorporation, a decision that leaves the village’s status intact — for now. But Wausau shows no signs of backing down anytime soon.

“The City will work with its legal counsel to prove that the defendants developed their incorporation plan during secret, illegal meetings, and to seek a fair remedy,” according to a news release issued Tuesday by Mayor Robert Mielke’s office.

Wausau has already spent more than $100,000 on legal bills related to the case, according to public documents.