County home rule under s. 59.03 (1) allows every county to “exercise any organizational or administrative power, subject only to the constitution and to any enactment of the legislature.” The language of s. 60.565 authorizing towns to provide ambulance service acknowledges that another person can provide the ambulance service instead of a town and withdraws the mandate when another person provides ambulance services. The absence of a command from the legislature that towns provide an ambulance service in all situations causes the argument that county home rule prevents counties from providing ambulance service to miss the mark. Town of Grant, Portage County v. Portage County, 2017 WI App 69
, 378 Wis. 2d 289
, 903 N.W.2d 152
The word “rural" in subs. (4) and (4m) restricts a county's authority to implement a naming or numbering system to rural areas within towns. The term rural refers to areas that are characterized by comparatively lower densities of people or buildings or areas that are characteristic of, or related to, the country—in other words, areas that are not urban. Town of Rib Mountain v. Marathon County, 2018 WI App 42
, 383 Wis. 2d 493
, 916 N.W.2d 164
A carefully drawn county ordinance prohibiting the sale of “disposable" bottles and cans would not, on its face, exceed the police power granted in s. 59.07 (64) [now s. 59.54 (6)], and would not constitute an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce, although a careful consideration of relevant factors may result in a finding of unreasonableness on both counts. 60 Atty. Gen. 158.
The authority of county officials to offer rewards for the arrest or conviction of persons violating the criminal law is limited to the circumstances set forth in s. 59.25 (2) [now s. 59.29 (1) (b)]. 63 Atty. Gen. 555.
The power of a county to provide limited rescue functions in connection with an ambulance service and to make reasonable charges is discussed. 65 Atty. Gen. 87.
Section 59.07 (64) [now s. 59.54 (6)] does not authorize county boards to proscribe deer shining. 68 Atty. Gen. 81.
A county board has authority under s. 59.07 (64) [now s. 59.54 (6)] to enact an ordinance prohibiting trespass that is similar to and consistent with s. 943.13. 69 Atty. Gen. 92.
A local emergency planning committee created by a county board pursuant to s. 59.07 (146) [now s. 59.54 (8)] is in many respects treated like other county committees. The county board has authority to appropriate funds for the committee and the county's relationship to the committee is the same as the county's relationship to other county bodies created under this section, with the exception that the county must be consistent with the authority exercised by the state emergency response commission. The county corporation counsel should provide legal advice and assistance to a LEPC. If a LEPC or its members are sued, the attorney general represents them, and the state would pay the judgment if the requirements of s. 895.46 have been satisfied. 78 Atty. Gen. 27
Local Emergency Planning Committee subcommittee members appointed by a county board under s. 59.07 (146) [now s. 59.54 (8)] are entitled to indemnity for damage liability under s. 895.46 and legal representation by the attorney general under s. 165.25. 81 Atty. Gen. 17
Consumer protection. 59.55(1)(1)
County consumer protection agency. 59.55(1)(a)1.
“Consumer complaint" means a complaint received by a consumer protection agency from an individual.
“County consumer protection agency" means an agency created or designated under this subsection.
A county may create or designate a consumer protection agency which may:
Receive and maintain records of consumer complaints.
Upon receipt of a consumer complaint, conduct an investigation to determine the validity of the complaint.
Notify the person responsible for the cause of the complaint of the nature of the complaint.
To the appropriate state department or independent agency; or
Maintain follow-up records on all complaints referred to state departments or independent agencies or the district attorney.
A county consumer protection agency created under this subsection shall report at least once every 6 months to the board on the actions and activities of the agency.
(2) Testing milk and soil.
The board may appropriate money and provide office and laboratory space for testing milk and soil and may provide residents of the county with reports of such tests.
(3) Truckers, hawkers and peddlers licensing.
Except in counties having a population of 750,000 or more, the board may enact ordinances providing for the licensing of truckers, hawkers and peddlers, other than licensees under s. 440.51
, and provide for the enforcement of the ordinances. The ordinances shall not provide for licensing of fuel vendors or those engaged in the delivery of petroleum products or farmers or truck gardeners who sell farm products grown by themselves.
(4) Transient merchants.
Counties may, by ordinance, regulate the retail sales, other than auction sales, made by transient merchants, as defined in s. 130.065 (1m)
, 1987 stats., in the towns in the county and provide forfeitures for violations of those ordinances.
(5) Secondhand car dealers, junking cars.
The board may license and regulate dealers in secondhand motor vehicles, wreckers of motor vehicles, or the conduct of motor vehicle junking. Such regulation shall not apply to any municipality which enacts an ordinance governing the same subject.
(6) Regulation of obscenity.
The board may enact an ordinance to prohibit conduct that is the same as that prohibited by s. 944.21
. A county may bring an action for a violation of the ordinance regardless of whether the attorney general has determined under s. 165.25 (3m)
that an action may be brought. The ordinance may provide for a forfeiture not to exceed $10,000 for each violation.
History: 1995 a. 201
; 2017 a. 207
Cultural affairs; education; recreation. 59.56(1)(1)
Cultural and educational contributions.
The board may appropriate money for cultural, artistic, educational and musical programs, projects and related activities, including financial assistance to nonprofit corporations devoted to furthering the cultivation and appreciation of the art of music or to the promotion of the visual arts.
The board may appropriate money for the establishment, expansion, operation and maintenance of public museums in the county, including, but not limited to, any public museum owned by a city.
The board may acquire, establish, expand, own, operate and maintain a public museum in the county and appropriate money for such purposes, except that a public museum owned by a county under this subsection may seek tax-exempt status as an entity described under section 501
(c) (3) of the internal revenue code.
Notwithstanding pars. (a)
, in counties having a population of 750,000 or more the board may contribute funds toward the operation of a public museum owned by a 1st class city in such county, as partial reimbursement for museum services rendered to persons residing outside such city and in a manner similar to the annual appropriation of funds by the board under s. 43.57
toward the operation of the central library in such city.
A board may establish and maintain an educational program in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin, referred to in this subsection as “University Extension Program".
(b) Committee on agriculture and extension education.
If a board establishes a university extension program, it shall create a committee on agriculture and extension education. The board may select as a member of the committee any public school administrator resident in the county. The members of the committee shall receive such compensation and expenses as the board determines under s. 59.22 (2) (c)
. The committee shall meet at such intervals as are considered necessary to properly carry out its functions and responsibilities.
The committee on agriculture and extension education shall appoint professionally qualified persons to the university extension program staff in cooperation with the university extension. Vacancies and additions to the staff shall be filled in the same manner.
The committee on agriculture and extension education may enter into joint employment agreements with the university extension or with other counties and the university extension if the county funds that are committed in the agreements have been appropriated by the board. Persons so employed under cooperative agreements and approved by the board of regents shall be considered employees of both the county and the University of Wisconsin.
For the partial maintenance of the work of the university extension program, including cooperative extension programs as provided for in an act of congress approved May 8, 1914 (38 Stat. 372) and all acts supplementary thereto, the board may appropriate moneys as requested by the committee on agriculture and extension education to provide the county's share in such work. The money appropriated by the board shall be disbursed by the treasurer upon orders of the clerk pursuant to the actions of the committee on agriculture and extension education and as adopted by the board.
(e) State aids.
To supplement the funds provided by the county for the work of the university extension program, each county shall be entitled to a minimum state aid of $1,500 per year if the board has made the required appropriation to maintain such a program, and such additional funds as are required to provide salary increases equal to those granted to state employees by the legislature.
A university extension program is authorized, under the direction and supervision of the county committee on agriculture and extension education, cooperating with the university extension of the University of Wisconsin, and within the limits of funds provided by the board and cooperating state and federal agencies, to make available the necessary facilities and conduct programs in the following areas:
Extension work provided for in an act of congress that was approved on May 8, 1914 (38 Stat. 372) and all acts supplementary thereto.
Any other extension work that is authorized by local, state or federal legislation.
Such a program may consist of, but not be limited to, providing agents to conduct programs on energy conservation and renewable energy resource systems, conduct evaluations and provide planning, analysis and other technical support to community agencies and organizations, small businesses, individuals interested in energy conservation in local communities and primary and secondary school teachers.
Such program may take any action that will facilitate the accomplishment of any of the functions under this paragraph, including without limitation because of enumeration the following:
The training of group leaders and the directing of group activities.
Demonstration projects, exhibits and other instructional means.
The dissemination of information by any appropriate means including press, radio and television.
The imposition of fees for certain desired educational services when sufficient public funds are not available to cover costs.
Cooperation with other local, state and federal agencies.
(g) Department of government.
For the purposes of s. 59.22 (2) (d)
the university extension program shall be a department of county government and the committee on agriculture and extension education shall be the committee which is delegated the authority to direct and supervise the department. In cooperation with the university extension of the University of Wisconsin, the committee on agriculture and extension education shall have the responsibility to formulate and execute the university extension program. The university extension shall annually report to the board its activities and accomplishments.
The personnel of the university extension program shall, whenever feasible, cooperate with other educational programs of importance to the residents of the county. Such cooperative agreements may be made under s. 66.0301
(4) University college campuses.
The board may appropriate money for the construction, remodeling, expansion, acquisition or equipping of land, buildings and facilities for a University of Wisconsin college campus, as defined in s. 36.05 (6m)
, if the operation of it has been approved by the board of regents.
(5) Historical societies.
The board may appropriate money to any local historical society incorporated under s. 44.03
located in the county for the purpose of collecting and preserving the records of the early pioneers, the life of the Indians, the experience of persons in the military, and the salient historical features of the county.
(6) County historian.
The board may create the position of county historian. The historian shall collect and preserve the records of the Indians and the early pioneers, the experiences of military men and women and the records of their service; mark and compile data concerning places of historical interest in the county; and perform such other duties relating to the collection, preservation, compilation and publication of historical data as the board prescribes. The board may provide the historian with a fireproof safe or vault in which to keep papers and documents, with clerical assistance and with such other needs as will enable the historian to adequately perform the duties of historian. The board may require reports.
(7) School attendance.
The board may enact and enforce an ordinance to impose a penalty, which is the same as that provided under s. 118.15 (5)
, upon a person having under his or her control a child who is between the ages of 6 and 18 years and whose child is not in compliance with s. 118.15
The board may create, promote and conduct and assist in creating, promoting and conducting recreational activities in the county which are conducive to the general health and welfare, and elect persons for such terms and salaries as may be determined, who shall exercise the powers and perform the duties given by the board. The board may provide for what purpose and in what manner moneys appropriated under this subsection may be expended. Such persons may be designated “County Recreation Committee". At the annual meeting next after making the appropriation the board shall determine in which municipalities such activities were held and which other municipalities received benefits therefrom and determine the amount expended from the appropriation to make the programs or activities or benefits derived therefrom possible in each municipality and levy a tax upon the property of each municipality in accordance with such apportionment to reimburse the county for its expenditures, but no expenditure shall be made nor improvement ordered without the consent of the governing body of the municipality.
(10) Advertise county.
The board may:
Appropriate funds to advertise the advantages, attractions and resources of the county and to conserve, develop and improve the same. The county may cooperate with any private agency or group in this work.
In counties with a population of 750,000 or more, appropriate funds for the placing of advertisements in newspapers, periodicals or other publications listing radio and television broadcasting schedules, informing county residents of a radio or television appearance by a county official or employee, or advertising any program, function or activity sponsored by the county.
(11) Fish and game.
The board may establish, maintain, and operate fish hatcheries and facilities for raising game birds, except that in a county with a population of 750,000 or more, the county may own the hatcheries and facilities, but must lease the hatcheries and facilities to another person who will maintain and operate them.
(12) Amusements; regulation.
Subject to sub. (12m)
, the board:
May exercise, outside of cities, villages, and towns that have not adopted a regulation under s. 60.23 (10)
, all powers conferred on cities to regulate dance halls, roadhouses and other places of amusement.
May enact ordinances to regulate, prohibit or license dance halls and pavilions, amusement parks, carnivals, concerts, street fairs, bathing beaches and other like places of amusement. Such ordinances shall provide for license fees yielding sufficient revenues for administering their provisions and paying for extraordinary governmental services required as a result of the licensed amusement. These services are limited to extra police protection, traffic control or refuse collection.
May, upon enactment of an ordinance under par. (b)
, select a sufficient number of persons whose duty it shall be to supervise public dances or places of amusement according to assignments to be made by the board. Such persons while engaged in supervising public dances or places of amusement shall have the powers of deputy sheriffs, and shall make reports in writing of each dance or place of amusement visited to the clerk, and shall receive such compensation as the board determines. Their reports shall be filed by the clerk and incorporated in a report to the board at each meeting.
Shall immediately revoke the license of any dance hall proprietor or manager issued under an ordinance enacted under par. (b)
if there is allowed at any such dance presence of intoxicated persons, or of children 17 years of age or under or adults who have not attained the age of 21 years unaccompanied by their parent or lawful guardian when alcohol beverages are available for consumption on the premises, or if any of the ordinances are violated. The board may enact an ordinance requiring the revocation of a dance hall license if the use of intoxicating liquor is permitted on the premises during the holding of a public dance. The chairperson of the board, when the board is not in session, is authorized to issue licenses or to suspend the license of any person violating this law or any regulation adopted by the board; such issuance of licenses or the suspension of such license to be acted on by the board at its next meeting.
May enact ordinances providing for a specified closing hour for places where soft drinks are sold.
(12m) Limits on regulation.
Ordinances enacted by a board under sub. (12) (b)
shall not apply to any city or village, or to any town that has adopted a similar regulation under s. 60.23 (10)
(13) Celebrations and conventions.
The board may appropriate money to defray the expense of national air shows or similar aeronautics activities held in the county, of municipal commemorative or patriotic celebrations or observances, of state or national conventions of war veterans, of national conventions of fraternal associations, of group entertainment for children on Halloween by county or municipal agencies within the county or of state or national conventions of county officers or employees or associations thereof or of bringing any of such conventions to the county.
Except as provided in par. (c)
, land upon which to hold agricultural and industrial fairs and exhibitions may be acquired by a board and improvements made thereon.
In counties containing less than 750,000 population, the board may annually, at the same time that other county taxes are levied, levy a tax upon the taxable property of such county.
The board may grant the use of fairgrounds acquired under par. (a) 2.
to agricultural and other societies of similar nature for agricultural and industrial fairs and exhibitions, and such other purposes as tend to promote the public welfare, and may receive donations of money, material or labor from any person or municipality for the improvement or purchase of such land. All improvements made on such lands by societies using them may be removed by the societies at any time within 6 months after their right to use the land terminates, unless otherwise agreed in writing between the societies and the county at the time of making the improvements.
In counties containing more than 750,000 population, land upon which to hold agricultural and industrial fairs and exhibitions may be acquired by a board, and improvements made thereon, by donation, purchase or condemnation, but not exceeding in value $150,000, and the board may convey or donate such lands so purchased or acquired or the use thereof to the state of Wisconsin or to agricultural and industrial societies for the purpose of holding thereon agricultural and industrial fairs and exhibitions, and may receive donations of money, material or labor from any person or municipality for the improvement or purchase of such land. If at any time lands or the use thereof so conveyed or donated shall be abandoned or no longer used for the purpose for which such lands or the use thereof were so conveyed or donated, the title to such land shall revert to the county; and the commissioners of public lands, in the case of conveyances or donations to the state, are authorized and directed to execute and deliver such proper deeds of conveyance as well as revest the title to such lands in such county, and when such lands or the use thereof were conveyed or donated to an agricultural and industrial society, such proper deeds or conveyance shall be executed and delivered by such society by its proper officers. However, the state may at any time within one year after title to any such lands revests, by proper conveyance in such county, remove any structures erected thereon by or for the state subsequent to the acquisition of such lands by the state.
The board may vote an amount which it considers sufficient to aid in the purchase of, or to make improvements upon the fairgrounds for any organized agricultural society, or to aid any organized agricultural society or any incorporated poultry association in any of its public exhibitions held or to be held; and any amount so voted shall be paid upon demand by the treasurer to the treasurer of such organized agricultural society, who shall keep an accurate record of the expenditure thereof by such society, and file a verified copy of such record with the clerk within one year after the receipt of such amount.
The board may provide for and conduct county fairs and exhibitions if a majority of the electors in the county so approve, in a referendum, and for such purpose may: