History: 1995 a. 201
; 1997 a. 35
Compensation and duties of an elected county surveyor and possible conflicts of interest in public contracts are discussed. 60 Atty. Gen. 134.
Duties of county and other land surveyors and minimum standards for property surveys are discussed. 69 Atty. Gen. 160.
Penalty for nonfeasance.
Any county surveyor, any city, village or town engineer, or any land surveyor who fails or refuses to perform any duty required of that person by law shall forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $50 for each such failure or refusal.
History: 1991 a. 316
; 1993 a. 246
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.46.
County auditors; powers; duties. 59.47(1)
In every county the clerk shall act as auditor, unless a separate office of county auditor is created as provided in sub. (2)
, and, when directed by resolution of the board, shall examine the books and accounts of any county officer, board, commission, committee, trustees or other officer or employee entrusted with the receipt, custody or expenditure of money, or by or on whose certificate any funds appropriated by the board are authorized to be expended, whether compensated for services by fees or by salary, and all original bills and vouchers on which moneys have been paid out and all receipts of moneys received by them. The clerk shall have free access to such books, accounts, bills, vouchers and receipts as often as may be necessary to perform the duties required under this subsection and he or she shall report in writing the results of the examinations to the board.
The board by resolution may create a separate office of county auditor and may fix the compensation of the auditor. The auditor shall perform the duties and have all of the powers conferred upon the clerk as auditor by sub. (1)
, and shall perform such additional duties and shall have such additional powers as are imposed and conferred upon him or her from time to time by resolution adopted by the board.
If a county auditor's office is created under sub. (2)
, the chairperson of the board shall appoint a person known to be skilled in matters of public finance and accounting to act as county auditor. The appointment shall be made under ss. 63.01
and shall be subject to confirmation by the board. The auditor shall direct the keeping of all of the accounts of the county, in all of its offices, departments and institutions, and shall keep books of account necessary to properly perform the duties of the office. The auditor's salary and the amount of the official bond shall be fixed by the board. The auditor shall perform all duties pertaining to the office, have all of the powers and perform the duties in sub. (1)
and perform other duties imposed by the board.
The board by resolution may authorize a county auditor appointed under sub. (3)
to appoint a deputy auditor under ss. 63.01
to aid him or her in the discharge of the duties of his or her office, and who, in the absence or disability of the county auditor, or in case of a vacancy in said office, shall perform all the duties of the office of county auditor until such vacancy is filled, or disability is removed. Such deputy shall execute and file an official bond in the same amount as that given by the county auditor.
History: 1977 c. 265
; 1983 a. 192
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.47.
This section's effect on county bookkeeping and auditing is discussed. 67 Atty. Gen. 248.
The statutory duties of the county clerk under ch. 70 may not be transferred to the county auditor, but the county auditor may be granted supervisory authority over the manner in which such duties are exercised. OAG 6-08
The removal of the county auditor is subject to the specific civil service provisions established by ordinance or resolution of the county board under ss. 63.01 to 63.17 and is not governed by the more general removal provision contained in s. 17.10 (3). Rather than creating the separate office of county auditor pursuant under s. 59.47 (2), a county board could create a department of administration under s. 59.52 (1) (b) and assign administrative audit functions to that department under that statute. If the administrative function is under the jurisdiction of the county auditor the function may be assigned to the department of administration. A person in the department of administration who performs audit functions therefore need not be appointed using civil service procedures. OAG 6-08
The county executive elected under s. 59.17
or the county administrator elected or appointed under s. 59.18
shall appoint a county assessor as prescribed in and subject to the limitations of s. 70.99
, approve the hiring of the assessor's staff as prescribed in that section and otherwise comply with that section. In counties with neither a county executive nor a county administrator the appointment of the county assessor shall be the duty of the chairperson of the board subject to the approval of the board and subject to the limitations of s. 70.99
. The hiring of the assessor's staff shall be the duty of the county assessor subject to the limitations of s. 70.99
History: 1995 a. 201
POWERS AND DUTIES OF COUNTIES
Board powers. 59.51(1)(1)
Organizational or administrative powers.
The board of each county shall have the authority to exercise any organizational or administrative power, subject only to the constitution and any enactment of the legislature which grants the organizational or administrative power to a county executive or county administrator or to a person supervised by a county executive or county administrator or any enactment which is of statewide concern and which uniformly affects every county. Any organizational or administrative power conferred under this subchapter shall be in addition to all other grants. A county board may exercise any organizational or administrative power under this subchapter without limitation because of enumeration, and these powers shall be broadly and liberally construed and limited only by express language.
(2) General authority.
The board may represent the county, have the management of the business and concerns of the county in all cases where no other provision is made, apportion and levy taxes and appropriate money to carry into effect any of the board's powers and duties.
History: 1995 a. 201
County administration. 59.52(1)
Department of administration. 59.52(1)(a)(a)
In counties with a population of 500,000 or more, the county may create a department of administration, provide for the appointment by the county executive of a director of such department and assign such administrative functions to the department as it considers appropriate, subject to the limitations of this paragraph. No such function shall be assigned to the department where the performance of the same by some other county office, department or commission is required by any provision of the constitution or statutes of this state, except that administrative functions under the jurisdiction of the county civil service commission or the county auditor may be so assigned notwithstanding sub. (8)
and ss. 59.47
. Such director shall be appointed by the county executive in the unclassified civil service and is subject to confirmation by the county board, as provided in s. 59.17 (2) (bm)
Any county with a population of less than 500,000 may create a department of administration and assign any administrative function to the department as it considers appropriate, except that no administrative function may be assigned to the department if any other provision of state law requires the performance of the function by any other county office, department or commission unless the administrative function is under the jurisdiction of the county civil service commission or the county auditor, in which case, the function may be assigned to the department notwithstanding sub. (8)
and ss. 59.47
. Except as provided under par. (a)
, in any county with a county executive or county administrator, the county executive or county administrator shall have the authority to appoint and supervise the head of a department of administration; and except as provided under par. (a)
, the appointment is subject to confirmation by the county board unless the appointment is made under a civil service system competitive examination procedure established under sub. (8)
or ch. 63
(2) Public records.
The board may prescribe the form and manner of keeping the records in any county office and the accounts of county officers. The board may enact an ordinance designating legal custodians for the county. Unless prohibited by law, the ordinance may require the clerk or the clerk's designee to act as legal custodian for the board and for any committees, commissions, boards or authorities created by ordinance or resolution of the board.
(3) Records where kept; public examination; rebinding; transcribing. 59.52(3)(a)(a)
The books, records, papers and accounts of the board shall be deposited with the respective county clerks and shall be open without any charge to the examination of all persons.
When any book, public record or the record of any city, village or town plat in any county office shall, from any cause, become unfit for use in whole or in part, the board shall order that the book, record or plat be rebound or transcribed. If the order is to rebind such book, record or plat, the rebinding must be done under the direction of the officer in charge of the book, record or plat, and in that officer's office. If the order is to transcribe such book, record or plat, the officer having charge of the same shall provide a suitable book for that purpose; and thereupon such officer shall transcribe the same in the book so provided and carefully compare the transcript with the originals, and make the same a correct copy thereof, and shall attach to the transcript a certificate over that officer's official signature that that officer has carefully compared the matter therein contained with, and that the same is a correct and literal copy of the book, record or plat from which the same was transcribed, naming such book. The certified copy of the book, record or plat shall have the same effect in all respects as the original, and the original book, record or plat shall be deposited with the treasurer and carefully preserved, except that in counties having a population of 500,000 or more where a book containing a tract index is rewritten or transcribed the original book may be destroyed. The order of the board directing the transcribing of any book, record or plat duly certified by the clerk shall, with such certificate, be recorded in each copy of the book, record or plat transcribed. The fee of the officer for such service shall be fixed by the board, not exceeding 10 cents per folio, or if such books or any part thereof consist of printed forms, not to exceed 5 cents per folio for such books or records, to be paid by the county.
(4) Destruction, transfer of obsolete records. 59.52(4)(a)(a) Destruction of obsolete county records.
Whenever necessary to gain needed vault and filing space, county or court officers and the custodian of the records of all courts of record in the state may, subject to pars. (b)
, destroy obsolete records in their custody as follows:
Notices of tax apportionment that are received from the secretary of state, after 3 years.
Copies of notices of tax apportionment that are sent to local taxing districts by the clerk, after 3 years.
Records of bounty claims that are forwarded to the department of natural resources, after one year.
Lists of officers of a municipality that are certified to the county clerk by the municipal clerks, after the date of the expiration of the term listed.
Crop reports that are submitted to the clerk by the local assessors, after 3 years.
Illegal tax certificates that are charged back to local taxing districts, 3 years after the date of charging back such certificates.
Notices of application for the taking of tax deeds and certificates of nonoccupancy, proofs of service and tax certificates that are filed with the clerk in connection with the taking of tax deeds, after 15 years.
Claims that are paid by the county, and papers supporting such claims, after 7 years.
Contracts, notices of taking bids, and insurance policies to which the county is a party, 7 years after the last effective day thereof.
Reports of town treasurers that are submitted to the clerk on dog licenses sold and records of dog licenses issued, after 3 years.
The clerk's copies of all receipts that are issued by the treasurer, 4 years or until after being competently audited, whichever is earlier.
Copies of notices that are given by the clerk to the town assessors setting out lands owned by the county and lands sold by the county, after 3 years.
All other receipts of the treasurer, after 7 years.
Case records and other record material of all public assistance that are kept as required under ch. 49
, if no payments have been made for at least 3 years and if a face sheet or similar record of each case and a financial record of all payments for each aid account are preserved in accordance with rules adopted by the department of health services or by the department of children and families. If the department of health services or the department of children and families has preserved such case records and other record material on computer disc or tape or similar device, a county may destroy the original records and record material under rules adopted by the department that has preserved those case records or other record material.
Marriage license applications and records and papers pertaining to the applications, including antenuptial physical examinations and test certificates, consents of parent or guardian for marriage and orders of the court waiving the waiting period, after 10 years.
Books in the office of the register of deeds in counties with a population of 500,000 or more containing copies of deeds, mortgages, other miscellaneous documents and military discharges that are authorized by law to be recorded in the office if the records first shall be photographed or microphotographed and preserved in accordance with ch. 228
(b) Transfer of obsolete county records.
Before the destruction of public records under par. (a)
, the proper officers in counties with a population of less than 500,000 shall make a written offer to the historical society under s. 44.09 (1)
. If the offer is accepted by the society within 60 days, the officers shall transfer title to noncurrent records in their custody as follows:
Original papers, resolutions and reports that are connected with board proceedings.
Destruction of county records, when.
If title is not accepted by the historical society within 60 days after a written offer is made under par. (b)
, county officers in counties with a population of less than 500,000 may destroy records as follows:
Original papers, resolutions and reports appearing in county board proceedings, 6 years following the date of first publication of the same in the official proceedings of the board.
No assessment roll that contains forest crop acreage may be destroyed without the prior approval of the secretary of revenue.
(5) Official seals.
The board may provide an official seal for the county and the county officers required to have one; and for the circuit court, with such inscription and devices as that court requires.
(a) How acquired; purposes.
Take and hold land acquired under ch. 75
and acquire, lease or rent property, real and personal, for public uses or purposes of any nature, including without limitation acquisitions for county buildings, airports, parks, recreation, highways, dam sites in parks, parkways and playgrounds, flowages, sewage and waste disposal for county institutions, lime pits for operation under s. 59.70 (24)
, equipment for clearing and draining land and controlling weeds for operation under s. 59.70 (18)
, ambulances, acquisition and transfer of real property to the state for new collegiate institutions or research facilities, and for transfer to the state for state parks and for the uses and purposes specified in s. 23.09 (2) (d)
(b) Control; actions.
Make all orders concerning county property and commence and maintain actions to protect the interests of the county.
Direct the clerk to lease, sell or convey or contract to sell or convey any county property, not donated and required to be held for a special purpose, on terms that the board approves. In addition, any county property may be leased, rented or transferred to the United States, the state, any other county within the state or any municipality or school district within the county. Oil, gas and mineral rights may be reserved and leased or transferred separately.
(d) Construction, maintenance and financing of county-owned buildings and public works projects. 59.52(6)(d)1.1.
Construct, purchase, acquire, lease, develop, improve, extend, equip, operate and maintain all county buildings, structures and facilities hereinafter in this subsection referred to as "projects", including without limitation because of enumeration swimming pools, stadiums, golf courses, tennis courts, parks, playgrounds, bathing beaches, bathhouses and other recreational facilities, exhibition halls, convention facilities, convention complexes, including indoor recreational facilities, dams in county lands, garbage incinerators, courthouses, jails, schools, hospitals and facilities for medical education use in conjunction with such hospitals, homes for the aged or indigent, regional projects, sewage disposal plants and systems, and including all property, real and personal, pertinent or necessary for such purposes.
Finance such projects, including necessary sites, by the issuance of revenue bonds under s. 66.0621
, and payable solely from the income, revenues and rentals and fees derived from the operation of the project financed from the proceeds of the bonds. If any such project is constructed on a site owned by the county before the issuance of the bonds, the county shall be reimbursed from the proceeds of the bonds in the amount of not less than the reasonable value of the site. The reasonable value of the site shall be determined by the board after having obtained written appraisals of value by 2 general appraisers, as defined in s. 458.01 (11)
, in the county having a reputation for skill and experience in appraising real estate values. Any bonds issued under this subsection shall not be included in arriving at the constitutional debt limitation.
Operate or lease such projects in their entirety or in part, and impose fees or charges for the use of or admission to such projects. Such projects may include space designed for leasing to others if such space is incidental to the purposes thereof.
(e) Leases to department of natural resources.
Lease lands owned by the county to the department of natural resources for game management purposes. Lands so leased shall not be eligible for entry under s. 28.11
. Of the rental paid by the state to the county for lands so leased, 60% shall be retained by the county and 40% shall be paid by the county to the town in which the lands are located and of the amount received by the town, 40% shall be paid by the town to the school district in which the lands are located. The amount so paid by a town to a joint school district shall be credited against the amount of taxes certified for assessment in that town by the clerk of the joint school district under s. 120.17 (8)
, and the assessment shall be reduced by such amount. In case any leased land is located in more than one town or school district the amounts paid to them shall be apportioned on the basis of area. This paragraph shall not affect the distribution of rental moneys received on leases executed before June 22, 1955.
(7) Joint cooperation.
The board may join with the state, other counties and municipalities in a cooperative arrangement as provided by s. 66.0301
, including the acquisition, development, remodeling, construction, equipment, operation and maintenance of land, buildings and facilities for regional projects, whether or not such projects are located within the county.
The board may establish a civil service system of selection, tenure and status, and the system may be made applicable to all county personnel, except the members of the board, constitutional officers and members of boards and commissions. The system may also include uniform provisions in respect to classification of positions and salary ranges, payroll certification, attendance, vacations, sick leave, competitive examinations, hours of work, tours of duty or assignments according to earned seniority, employee grievance procedure, disciplinary actions, layoffs and separations for just cause, as described in par. (b)
, subject to approval of a civil service commission or the board. The board may request the assistance of the department of administration and pay for such services, under s. 16.58
A law enforcement employee of the county may not be suspended, demoted, dismissed or suspended and demoted by the civil service commission or by the board, based either on its own investigation or on charges filed by the sheriff, unless the commission or board determines whether there is just cause, as described in this paragraph, to sustain the charges. In making its determination, the commission or the board shall apply the following standards, to the extent applicable:
Whether the employee could reasonably be expected to have had knowledge of the probable consequences of his or her alleged conduct.
Whether the rule or order that the employee allegedly violated is reasonable.
Whether the sheriff, before filing a charge against the employee, made a reasonable effort to discover whether the employee did in fact violate a rule or order.
Whether the effort described under subd. 3.
was fair and objective.
Whether the sheriff discovered substantial evidence that the employee violated the rule or order as described in the charges filed against the employee.
Whether the sheriff is applying the rule or order fairly and without discrimination to the employee.
Whether the proposed discipline reasonably relates to the seriousness of the alleged violation and to the employee's record of service with the sheriff's department.
If a law enforcement employee of the county is dismissed, demoted, suspended or suspended and demoted by the civil service commission or the board under the system established under par. (a)
, the person dismissed, demoted, suspended or suspended and demoted may appeal from the order of the civil service commission or the board to the circuit court by serving written notice of the appeal on the secretary of the commission or the board within 10 days after the order is filed. Within 5 days after receiving written notice of the appeal, the commission or the board shall certify to the clerk of the circuit court the record of the proceedings, including all documents, testimony and minutes. The action shall then be at issue and shall have precedence over any other cause of a different nature pending in the court, which shall always be open to the trial thereof. The court shall upon application of the accused or of the board or the commission fix a date of trial which shall not be later than 15 days after the application except by agreement. The trial shall be by the court and upon the return of the board or the commission, except that the court may require further return or the taking and return of further evidence by the board or the commission. The question to be determined by the court shall be: Upon the evidence is there just cause, as described in par. (b)
, to sustain the charges against the employee? No cost shall be allowed either party and the clerk's fees shall be paid by the county. If the order of the board or the commission is reversed, the accused shall be immediately reinstated and entitled to pay as though in continuous service. If the order of the board or the commission is sustained, it shall be final and conclusive.
(9) Purchasing agent.
The board may appoint a person or committee as county purchasing agent, and provide compensation for their services. Any county officer or supervisor may be the agent or a committee member. The purchasing agent shall provide all supplies and equipment for the various county offices and the board chairperson shall promptly sign orders in payment therefor. The board may require that all purchases be made in the manner determined by it.
(10) Salaries and automobile allowance; when payable.
Salaries of county officers and employees shall be paid at the end of each month, but the board of any county may authorize the payment of such salaries semimonthly or once in every 2 weeks in such manner as it may determine. Payment for automobile allowance to officers and employees, duly authorized to use privately owned automobiles in their work for the county, shall be made upon certification of the respective department heads in a manner similar to that in which salaries are paid, provided such method of payment of automobile allowance is authorized by ordinance specifically stating the departments to which it applies.
(a) Liability and property damage.
Provide public liability and property damage insurance, either in commercial companies or by self-insurance created by setting up an annual fund for such purpose or by a combination thereof, covering without limitation because of enumeration motor vehicles, malfeasance of professional employees, maintenance and operation of county highways, parks, parkways and airports and any other county activities involving the possibility of damage to the general public.
(b) Fire and casualty.
Provide for fire and casualty insurance for all county property.
Provide for individual or group hospital, surgical and life insurance for county officers and employees and for payment of premiums for county officers and employees. A county with at least 100 employees may elect to provide health care benefits on a self-insured basis to its officers and employees. A county and one or more cities, villages, towns, or other counties that together have at least 100 employees may jointly provide health care benefits to their officers and employees on a self-insured basis. Counties that elect to provide health care benefits on a self-insured basis to their officers and employees shall be subject to the requirements set forth under s. 120.13 (2) (c)
Bonds of officers and employees.
Provide for the protection of the county and public against loss or damage resulting from the act, neglect or default of county officers, department heads and employees and may contract for and procure bonds or contracts of insurance to accomplish that purpose either from commercial companies or by self-insurance created by setting up an annual fund for such purpose or by a combination thereof. Any number of officers, department heads or employees not otherwise required by statute to furnish an official bond may be combined in a schedule or blanket bond or contract of insurance. So far as applicable ss. 19.01 (2)
, (4) (d)
shall apply to the bonds or contracts of insurance. The bond shall be for a definite period. Each renewal of the bond shall constitute a new bond for the principal amount covering the renewal period.