The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees won't be pursuing a lawsuit against Franklin County for backing out of a lease agreement.
A resolution giving village officials the authority to draft a lawsuit against the county was taken off the agenda at Monday night's regular board meeting.
In May 2008, the county entered into a lease with the village to rent the second floor of the village offices on Main Street. Under the terms of the agreement, the county would rent the space for five years, with the lease expiring on March 31, 2013.
But village officials say the county "unilaterally abandoned" the premises in December 2010, constituting a default under the lease agreement.
Both the Franklin County Department of Social Services and the Department of Public Heath nurses offices moved from the village building to office space at the Saranac Lake Adult Center last year.
The original resolution was drafted on March 24, and officials say that as of that date, the county had not "agreed to any payment of, or settlement regarding, the remaining rent amounts that are due under the lease."
The county had been paying the village about $7,000 per quarter under the lease agreement, according to Village Treasurer Paul Ellis.
Now, the village wants to reach what it calls "formal resolution" of its rights in accordance with the agreement.
Speaking Monday, Franklin County Legislator Tim Burpoe said the county has been in negotiations with the village. He was surprised to hear that the village was considering legal action.
"I was surprised that this would be offered, because I thought we were making progress," Burpoe said. "I feel like we've tried to have a discussion about this and have tried to make things right."
The resolution was removed from the agenda on Monday. Village Manager John Sweeney says county officials reached out to him after hearing word about the possible lawsuit.
"We had a contract duration, of which they said they weren't showing," he said. "After that, we asked them what their plans were, we got together with them on March 9 and asked, 'what are you doing to do?'"
"They claimed they weren't going to pay it," Sweeney added. "At that point, we asked how are we going to get some value out of this, because we do have a contract. They were working on it, they just haven't responded. I'm sure we'll be getting together again."
Sweeney says there's an opportunity to reach a resolution.
"I don't want to, in essence, pay for something that I'm getting now from Franklin County for free," he said. "I know we're all in this together, but we do have a contract, and we kind of got left high and dry."
But some trustees, like Jeff Branch and John McEneany, said they were opposed to continued negotiations with the county.
"I am adamantly opposed to cutting a deal," Branch said. "They had a contract with us and they need to come good on the contract. I've looked at the Franklin County budget, the money is in the budget - at least it was in the budget as of last year. The money is gone now - I don't know who they gave it to. I would prefer that we not negotiate and we stick to our guns and if we have to, we go to court."
McEneany says that contract "is what it is."
"They need to pay in full, period," he said. "They vacated the office on their own accord. So that's that."
Sweeney and village counsel Charles Noth will continue negotiations with Franklin County.