In counties that elect a surveyor, the surveyor shall be a professional land surveyor. In lieu of electing a surveyor in any county having a population of less than 500,000, the board may, by resolution, designate that the duties under ss. 59.45 (1)
and 59.74 (2)
be performed by any professional land surveyor employed by the county. Any surveyor employed by a county having a population of 500,000 or more shall be a professional land surveyor.
Except as provided in par. (b)
, in any county containing one town only, the county board may, by resolution, designate any county office a part-time position, combine 2 or more county offices, and, if concurred in by the town board, combine the offices of county clerk and town clerk and any other county and town offices, provided that the offices combined are not incompatible and the combination is not expressly forbidden by law. If the town board so concurs, the election may be for the combined office and no separate election for the town office shall be held until after the county board has by resolution decided to abandon the combination and the town board has concurred by resolution.
(3) Offices where kept; when open. 59.20(3)(a)(a)
Every sheriff, clerk of the circuit court, register of deeds, treasurer, comptroller, register of probate, clerk and county surveyor shall keep his or her office at the county seat in the offices provided by the county or by special provision of law; or if there is none, then at such place as the board directs. The board may also require any elective or appointive county official to keep his or her office at the county seat in an office to be provided by the county. All such officers shall keep their offices open during the usual business hours of any day except Sunday, as the board directs. With proper care, the officers shall open to the examination of any person all books and papers required to be kept in his or her office and permit any person so examining to take notes and copies of such books, records, papers or minutes therefrom except as authorized in par. (c)
and ss. 19.36 (10)
and 19.59 (3) (d)
or under ch. 69
If any officer described in par. (a)
neglects or refuses to comply with any of the provisions of this subsection, the officer shall forfeit $5 for each day that the noncompliance continues. Actions for the collection of a forfeiture under this paragraph may be brought upon the complaint of the district attorney of the proper county or of any party aggrieved by the officer's refusal or neglect.
Any board may, by ordinance, provide that the cutoff reception time for the filing and recording of documents shall be advanced by one hour in any official business day during which time the register of deeds office is open to the public, in order to complete the processing, recording, and indexing to conform to the day of reception. Any register of deeds may provide in his or her notice under s. 19.34 (1)
that requests for inspection or copying of the records of his or her office may be made only during a specified period of not less than 35 hours per week. For all other purposes, the register of deeds office shall remain open to the public during usual business hours.
Any register of deeds who in good faith makes an erroneous determination as to the accessibility of a portion of a record, to members of the public under s. 19.36 (6)
, is not subject to any penalty for denial of access to the record under s. 19.37 (4)
NOTE: 2003 Wis. Act 47
, which affects this section, contains extensive explanatory notes.
Section 59.14, [now 59.20 (3)] is a legislative declaration granting those persons who come under its coverage an absolute right of inspection subject only to reasonable administrative regulations. State ex rel. Bilder v. Town of Delavan, 112 Wis. 2d 539
, 334 N.W.2d 252
A newspaper had the right to intervene to protect its right to examine sealed court files. State ex rel. Bilder v. Town of Delavan, 112 Wis. 2d 539
, 334 N.W.2d 252
Courts must apply the open records balancing test to questions involving disclosure of court records. Under the test, the party seeking nondisclosure must show that public interests favoring secrecy outweigh those favoring disclosure. C. L. v. Edson, 140 Wis. 2d 168
, 409 N.W.2d 417
(Ct. App. 1987).
The appointment of a county surveyor under this section is constitutional. Ripley v. Brown, 143 Wis. 2d 686
, 422 N.W.2d 608
"Books and papers required to be kept" are not all those that the custodian is obliged merely to retain or preserve; rather they are only those that the custodian is obliged to maintain or engender. The requester has the burden of showing the authority requiring that the record be maintained or engendered. State ex rel. Schultz v. Bruendl, 168 Wis. 2d 101
, 483 N.W.2d 238
(Ct. App. 1992).
To overcome the legislatively mandated policy favoring open records and to persuade the circuit court to exercise its inherent authority, the party seeking to close court records bears the burden of demonstrating, with particularity, that the administration of justice requires that the records be closed. Once documents are filed in the court they become a judicial record subject to the access accorded such records. Even the possibility that the parties may attempt to rescind a settlement agreement if the record is unsealed does not outweigh the public's right to inspect public documents. There are no requirements of a showing of harm to the public or that the inquiry must have indicia of public concern. Krier v. EOG Environmental, Inc. 2005 WI App 256
, 288 Wis. 2d 623
, 707 N.W.2d 915
After a transcript of a court proceedings is filed with the clerk of court, any person may examine or copy the transcript. 68 Atty. Gen. 313.
A sheriff's criminal investigation files are not covered by a blanket exemption from the public records law. Denial of access may be justified on a case-by-case basis. 77 Atty. Gen. 42
Official oaths and bonds. 59.21(1)
Each county officer named in this chapter, except county supervisors, shall execute and file an official bond and take and file the official oath within 20 days after receiving official notice of election or appointment, or if not officially notified, within 20 days after the commencement of the term for which the officer is elected or appointed, or the board may provide a schedule or blanket bond that includes any or all of these officials, except county supervisors, and a blanket bond may also include members of a county veterans service commission under s. 45.81 (1)
and a county veterans service officer under s. 45.81 (2)
. Every county supervisor shall take and file the official oath within 20 days after receiving official notice of election or appointment, or if not officially notified, within 20 days after the commencement of the term for which he or she is elected or appointed. Every deputy appointed by any such officer shall take and file the official oath and if the deputy neglects to do so, he or she shall forfeit $100. If the board does not provide a schedule or blanket bond, the official bonds shall be in sums and with sureties, as follows:
Treasurer, if the bond is furnished by individual sureties, not less than the amount nor exceeding twice the amount of all taxes directed by the board to be levied therein and to be received by the treasurer during the ensuing year, with 3 or more sureties; or, if the bond is furnished by a surety company in an amount not less than 10% of all taxes directed by the board to be levied therein, and to be received by the treasurer during the ensuing year, or $500,000, whichever is smaller.
Sheriff, not less than $5,000 nor more than $25,000, with not less than 3 sureties.
Coroner, not less than $500 nor more than $10,000, with not less than 2 sureties.
Clerk of the circuit court, not less than $5,000, with 2 or more sureties.
Register of deeds, in counties containing less than 150,000 population, $3,000, with 2 or more sureties. In counties containing 150,000 or more population, not less than $3,000, with 2 or more sureties, conditioned for the accuracy of the register's work and the faithful, correct and impartial performance of the register's duties, and in addition thereto a bond of not less than $10,000, with 2 or more sureties, conditioned for the faithful accounting for and paying over to the treasurer all moneys which may come into the register's hands as register of deeds, or into the hands of the register's deputy or assistants.
County abstractor, $5,000, with 2 or more sureties.
Comptroller, not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000 with not less than 3 sureties.
Each official bond described in sub. (1)
shall be in a sum fixed by law; or if not fixed by law, in a sum fixed by resolution of the board, within the limitations prescribed by law, if any, at the annual meeting in November prior to the commencement of the term of office of the particular officer. Both the bond and the sufficiency of the sureties thereto shall be approved by a committee consisting of the chairperson and not less than 2 other members of the board who shall report in writing their action on all bonds.
Each bond described in sub. (1)
shall be guaranteed by the number of personal sureties prescribed by law, or if not prescribed, by the number fixed by the board within the limitations, if any, prescribed by law, or by a surety company as provided by s. 632.17 (2)
. In the case of the clerk, treasurer and county abstractor the board may by resolution require them to furnish bonds guaranteed by surety companies and direct that the premiums be paid as provided in s. 19.01 (8)
If it considers the bond of any officer insufficient, the board may by resolution require the officer to furnish additional bond in a sum to be named in the resolution, not exceeding $10,000 for the register of deeds of any county with a population of less than 150,000, and not exceeding the maximum sum, if any, fixed by law for additional bonds for other officers.
See s. 59.38 (3)
for provision for a bond by the medical examiner.
Compensation, fees, salaries and traveling expenses of officials and employees. 59.22(1)(a)1.1.
The board shall, before the earliest time for filing nomination papers for any elective office to be voted on in the county, other than supervisors and circuit judges, which officer is paid in whole or part from the county treasury, establish the total annual compensation for services to be paid to the officer exclusive of reimbursements for expenses out-of-pocket provided for in sub. (3)
. Except as provided in subd. 2.
, the annual compensation may be established by resolution or ordinance, on a basis of straight salary, fees, or part salary and part fees, and if the compensation established is a salary, or part salary and part fees, it shall be in lieu of all fees, including per diem and other forms of compensation for services rendered, except those specifically reserved to the officer in the resolution or ordinance. The compensation established shall not be increased nor diminished during the officer's term and shall remain for ensuing terms unless changed by the board. Court fees shall not be used for compensation for county officers.
The board shall establish the annual compensation of the sheriff as straight salary. No portion of that salary may include or be based on retention of fees by the sheriff. No portion of that salary may be based on providing food to prisoners under s. 302.37 (1)
. This subdivision does not prohibit the reimbursement of a sheriff for actual and necessary expenses.
Any officer authorized or required to collect fees appertaining to his or her office shall keep a complete record of all fees received in the form prescribed by the board and shall file a record of the total annual receipts in the clerk's office within 20 days of the close of the calendar year or at such other times as the board requires. Any officer on a salary basis or part fees and part salary shall collect all fees authorized by law appertaining to his or her office and shall remit all fees not specifically reserved to the officer by enumeration in the compensation established by the board under par. (a)
to the treasurer at the end of each month unless a shorter period for remittance is otherwise provided.
(2) Appointive officials; deputy officers; and employees. 59.22(2)(a)(a)
Except for elective offices included under sub. (1)
, supervisors and circuit judges, and subject to s. 59.794 (3)
, the board has the powers set forth in this subsection, sub. (3)
and s. 59.03 (1)
as to any office, department, board, commission, committee, position or employee in county service created under any statute, the salary or compensation for which is paid in whole or in part by the county, and the jurisdiction and duties of which lie within the county or any portion thereof and the powers conferred by this section shall be in addition to all other grants of power and shall be limited only by express language.
Except as provided in subd. 2.
and par. (d)
, the board may do any of the following:
Provide, fix or change the salary or compensation of any office, board, commission, committee, position, employee or deputies to elective officers that is subject to sub. (1)
without regard to the tenure of the incumbent.
Establish the number of employees in any department or office including deputies to elective officers.
Establish regulations of employment for any person paid from the county treasury.
No action of the board may be contrary to or in derogation of the rules of the department of children and families under s. 49.78 (4)
relating to employees administering old-age assistance, aid to families with dependent children, aid to the blind, or aid to totally and permanently disabled persons or ss. 63.01
The board or any board, commission, committee or agency to which the board or statutes has delegated the authority to manage and control any institution or department of the county government may contract for the services of employees, setting up the hours, wages, duties and terms of employment for periods not to exceed 2 years.
The board may provide and appropriate money for an employee awards program to encourage and to reward unusual and meritorious suggestions and accomplishments by county employees.
(3) Reimbursement for expense.
The board may provide for reimbursement to any elective officer, deputy officer, appointive officer or employee for any out-of-pocket expense incurred in the discharge of that person's duty in addition to that person's salary or compensation, including without limitation because of enumeration, traveling expenses, tuition costs incurred in attending courses of instruction clearly related to that person's employment, and the board may establish standard allowances for mileage, room and meals, the purposes for which allowances may be made, and determine the reasonableness and necessity for such reimbursements, and also establish in advance a fair rate of compensation to be paid to the sheriff for the board and care of prisoners in the county jail at county expense. Any reimbursement paid under this subsection to an officer or employee of a county with a population of 750,000 or more is subject to the budget limitation described in s. 59.60 (7e)
(3a) Commission on aging.
The board may provide for the payment of expenses and a per diem to persons appointed to a county commission on aging under s. 59.53 (11)
In the event of conflict between this section and any other statute, this section to the extent of the conflict shall prevail.
Sub. (1) (a) 1.'s prohibition of increasing or diminishing certain elected county officials' compensation during their terms of office does not preclude adjustments to fringe benefits. The statute expressly protects only salaries and fees. Cramer v. Eau Claire County, 2013 WI App 67
, 348 Wis. 2d 154
, 833 N.W.2d 172
A county ordinance implementing a collective bargaining agreement providing for the payment to county employees, upon their leaving government employment, compensation for accumulated sick leave, earned both before and after the effective date of the ordinance, is valid. 59 Atty. Gen. 209.
A county board may not adopt a step-salary plan for elective offices related to experience of the officeholder as compensation is for the office, not the officer, and the officer is entitled to the compensation as an incident of the office. 61 Atty. Gen. 165, 403.
When it is the duty of a county traffic officer to testify or assist in the prosecution of county traffic offenses, the officer is not entitled to witness fees but may be paid additional compensation if a court appearance takes place outside regular working hours. 62 Atty. Gen. 93.
A county board may not deny a salary to an elected official during a period of sickness. A board does not have power to establish sick leave and vacation benefits for elected county officials. 65 Atty. Gen. 62.
The authority to establish salaries for the staff employed by a county's 51.42/51.437 board lies with that board, subject to the general budgetary control of the county board. 65 Atty. Gen. 105.
Discretionary authority to grant increases to elected county officials based upon performance or length of service may not be delegated to a committee of the county board because the board itself lacks the authority to establish such a compensation scheme. 80 Atty. Gen. 258
Deputies; salaries; vacancies. 59.23(1)(a)(a)
Every clerk shall appoint in writing one or more deputies and file the appointment in the clerk's office. The deputy or deputies shall aid in the performance of the duties of the clerk under the clerk's direction, and in case of the absence or disability of the clerk or of a vacancy in the clerk's office, unless another is appointed therefor as provided in par. (c)
, shall perform all of the duties of the clerk during the absence or until the vacancy is filled. The board may, at its annual meeting or at any special meeting, provide a salary for the deputy or deputies.
In each county the clerk may also appoint the number of assistants that the board authorizes and prescribes, and the assistants shall receive salaries that the board provides and fixes.
If a clerk is incapable of discharging the duties of office the board shall appoint an acting clerk within 90 days after the board adopts a resolution finding that the clerk is incapable of discharging the duties of the office. The acting clerk shall serve until the disability is removed. If the board is not in session at the time of the incapacity, the chairperson of the board may appoint an acting clerk, whose term shall not extend beyond the next regular or special meeting of the board. A person appointed as acting clerk or appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of clerk, upon giving an official bond with sureties as required of a clerk, shall perform all of the duties of the office; and thereupon the powers and duties of the deputy of the last clerk shall cease.
Act as clerk of the board at all of the board's regular, special, limited term, and standing committee meetings; under the direction of the county board chairperson or committee chairperson, create the agenda for board meetings; keep and record true minutes of all the proceedings of the board in a format chosen by the clerk, including all committee meetings, either personally or through the clerk's appointee; file in the clerk's office copies of agendas and minutes of board meetings and committee meetings; make regular entries of the board's resolutions and decisions upon all questions; record the vote of each supervisor on any question submitted to the board, if required by any member present; publish ordinances as provided in s. 59.14 (1)
; and perform all duties prescribed by law or required by the board in connection with its meetings and transactions.
Recording of proceedings.
Record at length every resolution adopted, order passed and ordinance enacted by the board.
Orders for payment.
Sign all orders for the payment of money directed by the board to be issued, and keep a true and correct account of such orders, and of the name of the person to whom each order is issued; but he or she shall not sign or issue any county order except upon a recorded vote or resolution of the board authorizing the same; and shall not sign or issue any such order for the payment of the services of any clerk of court, district attorney or sheriff until the person claiming the order files an affidavit stating that he or she has paid into the county treasury all moneys due the county and personally collected or received in an official capacity; and shall not sign or issue any order for the payment of money for any purpose in excess of the funds appropriated for such purpose unless first authorized by a resolution adopted by the county board under s. 65.90 (5)
Apportionment of taxes.
Apportion taxes and carry out other responsibilities as specified in s. 70.63 (1)
File and preserve in the clerk's office all accounts acted upon by the board, and endorse its action thereon, designating specifically upon every account the amount allowed, if any, and the particular items or charges for which allowed, and such as were disallowed, if any.
To the extent authorized by the board, exercise the authority under s. 59.52 (6)
Perform the responsibilities relating to dog licensing, which are assigned to the clerk under ch. 174
, and the dog fund specified in ch. 174
Marriage licenses, domestic partnerships.
Administer the program for issuing marriage licenses as provided in ch. 765
and the program for forming and terminating domestic partnerships as provided in ch. 770
Reports of receipts and disbursements.
Record the reports of the treasurer of the receipts and disbursements of the county.
Recording receipts and disbursements.
Keep a true and accurate account of all money which comes into the clerk's hands by virtue of the clerk's office, specifying the date of every receipt or payment, the person from or to whom the receipt or payment was received or paid, and the purpose of each particular receipt or disbursement, and keep the book at all times open to the inspection of the county board or any member of the board.
(g) Payments to treasurer.
Keep in the manner prescribed in par. (f)
a separate account of all moneys paid the treasurer by the clerk.
Books of account.
Keep all of the accounts of the county and all books of account in a manner that the board directs. Books of account shall be maintained on a calendar year basis, which shall be the fiscal year in every county.
Chief election officer, election duties.
As the chief election officer of the county, perform all duties that are imposed on the clerk in relation to the preparation and distribution of ballots and the canvass and return of votes at general, judicial, and special elections.
(L) Duplicate receipts.
Make out and deliver to the treasurer duplicate receipts of all money received by the clerk as clerk, and countersign and file in the clerk's office the duplicate receipts delivered to the clerk by the treasurer of money received by the treasurer.
(m) Certified copies; oaths and bonds; signatures. 59.23(2)(m)1.1.
Make and deliver to any person, for a fee that is set by the board under s. 19.35 (3)
, a certified copy or transcript of any book, record, account, file or paper in his or her office or any certificate which by law is declared to be evidence.
Except as otherwise provided, receive and file the official oaths and bonds of all county officers and upon request shall certify under the clerk's signature and seal the official capacity and authority of any county officer so filing and charge the statutory fee. Upon the commencement of each term every clerk shall file the clerk's signature and the impression of the clerk's official seal in the office of the secretary of state.
Perform all duties that are imposed on the clerk in relation to the assessment and collection of taxes.
Timber harvest notices.
Provide notice to a town chairperson regarding the harvesting of raw forest products, as described in s. 26.03 (1m) (a) 2.
(o) Report, receipts and disbursements to board.
Make a full report to the board, at the annual meeting or at any other regular meeting of the board when so stipulated by the board, in writing, verified by the clerk's oath, of all money received and disbursed by the clerk, and separately of all fees received by the clerk; and settle with the board the clerk's official accounts and produce to the board all books, accounts and vouchers relating to the same.
(p) Proceedings to historical society.
Forward to the historical society, postpaid, within 30 days after their publication a copy of the proceedings of the board, and of all printed reports made under authority of such board or by the authority of other county officers.
County highway commissioner; notify of election.
Notify a county commissioner of highways of the commissioner's election within 10 days thereafter.
County tax for road and bridge fund.
Notify the proper town officers of the levy and rate of any tax for the county road and bridge fund.