2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
February 7, 2018 - Introduced by Senators Wanggaard and L. Taylor, cosponsored
by Representatives Kooyenga and Fields. Referred to Committee on
Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.
SB777,2,6 1An Act to repeal 59.17 (2) (bm), 59.42 (1) (b) and (c), 59.52 (31) and 59.79 (8);
2to renumber 59.51 (1); to renumber and amend 59.42 (1) (a) and 59.60 (12);
3to amend 46.21 (1m) (a), 46.21 (1m) (am), 48.09 (5), 59.06 (2), 59.10 (1) (a),
459.10 (3) (f), 59.10 (3) (i), 59.10 (5), 59.17 (2) (b) 1., 59.17 (2) (b) 3. (intro.), 59.17
5(2) (b) 4., 59.17 (2) (b) 6., 59.17 (2) (c), 59.17 (4), 59.22 (1) (a) 1., 59.22 (1) (a) 2.,
659.22 (2) (a), 59.22 (2) (c) 1. (intro.), 59.22 (2) (c) 2., 59.22 (2) (d), 59.22 (2) (e),
759.22 (3), 59.22 (3a), 59.255 (2) (a), 59.255 (2) (e), 59.38 (5), 59.42 (2) (a), 59.42
8(2) (b) 5., 59.42 (3), 59.44 (1) (b), 59.52 (1) (a), 59.52 (1) (b), 59.52 (9), 59.52 (19),
959.52 (21), 59.52 (24), 59.52 (29) (a), 59.53 (25), 59.56 (3) (b), 59.56 (14) (e) 1.,
1059.57 (2) (e) 4., 59.57 (2) (f) 2., 59.58 (1) (c), 59.58 (3) (intro.), 59.60 (1), 59.69 (2)
11(a) 2., 59.69 (2) (a) 3., 59.70 (2) (intro.), 59.70 (18), 59.792 (3) (a) (intro.), 60.40
12(2), 60.40 (3), 60.40 (5), 63.02 (2), 68.14 (1), 83.01 (1) (b), 200.11 (8) and 289.33
13(3) (d); and to create 59.10 (2) (c) 5., 59.10 (3) (k), 59.17 (2) (b) 8., 59.17 (2) (d),
1459.17 (2) (e), 59.22 (1) (a) 3., 59.51 (1) (b), 59.52 (3m), 59.52 (29) (am), 59.60 (12)

1(b), 59.60 (12) (c), 59.602, 59.61 (4), 59.84 (2) (d) 8. and 65.30 of the statutes;
2relating to: increasing the authority of a county executive from a populous
3county and other counties and reducing the authority of a county board,
4budgeting procedures for populous counties, certain other counties, and cities,
5villages, and towns, and the method for establishing the compensation of
6county supervisors and county elective officers.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Powers and duties of a county executive
This bill, generally, expands some of the powers that may be exercised by the
county executive of any county with a population of 750,000 or more (populous
county) and makes other changes that apply to all counties. Generally, the bill
provides that any power conferred to a county executive or county administrator
must be broadly and liberally construed and limited only by express language. To
the extent that a conflict exists between county board action and county executive
or county administrator action, the bill provides that the action of the executive or
administrator shall prevail, to the extent of the conflict. The bill also allows a county
executive of a populous county to exercise some of the authority that would otherwise
be exercised by the county board for matters regarding property. Such authority
includes providing public liability and property damage insurance, providing fire
and casualty insurance for county property, examining and settling all accounts of
the county and all claims, and purchasing publications. In addition, the bill gives the
county executive sole authority to exercise the powers granted to the county board
with regard to establishing parking areas (populous counties only), acceptance of
donations, gifts, and grants, and transportation leases.
Current law allows a county executive of a populous county to hire and
supervise the number of employees that the county executive reasonably believes are
necessary for him or her to carry out the duties of the county executive's office. The
bill provides that the county board of a populous county may neither reduce nor
eliminate the staff authorized by the county executive for operating the office of the
county executive, nor reduce or eliminate the appropriations for the staff and
operations of the office. The bill also gives the county executive of a populous county
sole authority to determine the compensation, fringe benefits, human resources,
hiring, creation and elimination of positions, pay ranges, expense reimbursements,
and classifications for county employees.
Under current law, the county executive of any county has the authority to
coordinate and direct all administrative and management functions of the county
that are not vested in other elected officers. This bill specifies that, with regard to
a county executive of a populous county, the executive has sole authority over

administrative actions with regard to procurement, including an appeals process,
contracting, administrative review of appeals regarding the denial of certain
applications, and the actions taken under the administrative manual of operating
procedures related to the authority and powers of a county executive. Under the bill,
any such action taken by a county executive of a populous county is not subject to
submission to or approval by the county board.
Corporation counsel, appointees
Current law requires the creation of the office of corporation counsel for any
county with a population of 500,000 or more. Under current law, a corporation
counsel is appointed by the county executive with the concurrence of a majority of
the county board. A counsel may be dismissed at any time by the county executive
with the concurrence of the board or may be dismissed at any time by a majority vote
of the board. The bill requires the creation of the office of corporation counsel for any
county with a county executive or county administrator. Under the bill, a corporation
counsel is appointed by the executive or administrator with the concurrence of a
majority of the county board, unless the board enacts an ordinance that waives the
board's confirmation. The bill provides that the corporation counsel is under the
supervision of the county executive or county administrator and may be dismissed
by the executive or administrator with the board's concurrence.
Generally, the bill changes the method of board confirmation of county
executive appointees in a populous county. Under the bill, an appointee confirmed
by the board for a particular position does not need to be reconfirmed to continue in
that position, and interim appointees do not require board confirmation. The bill also
changes the current law provision requiring the comptroller to countersign all
county contracts. Under the bill, the requirement applies only to contracts valued
at more than $250,000.
Public contracts, bonding
Generally under current law, subject to various bidding requirements, public
contracts are let by the board. Also under current law, the board is authorized to
enter into leases related to items including industrial development projects, solid
waste management, land clearing and weed control, public transit, and leases for
airport property. Generally under the bill, the authority to enter into public contracts
and leases is transferred to the county executive, if the county has that office.
Generally under current law, a county must let a public contract having an
estimated cost of more than $25,000 to the lowest responsible bidder. Under this bill,
the amount above which a populous county must let a contract to the lowest
responsible bidder is raised to $50,000.
The bill creates a requirement that any county with an elective comptroller
must create an Internet site, which may be part of the county's website, on which it
posts a list of certain contracts to which the county is a party if the contract relates
to the purchase of goods or services, or the lease, sale, or purchase of real property.
This provision first applies approximately six months after the bill takes effect.
Under current law, if the payment of obligations is provided by revenue bonds,
the governing body of a city, village, town, or county must, by ordinance or resolution,

order the issuance and sale of bonds. The bill allows the county executive to order
the issuance and sale of bonds in the case of county obligations.
Biennial budget procedures
This bill also authorizes counties with a population of 750,000 or more
(populous counties), currently only Milwaukee County, as well as any other county,
and any city, village, or town (municipalities) to adopt and use a biennial budgetary
Current law specifies an annual budgetary procedure applicable to counties
with a population of 500,000 or more and certain counties that elect to follow the
procedure. No later than July 15, each department of the county submits to the
director of the county department of administration the respective department's
estimated revenues and expenditures for the coming fiscal year, the estimated cost
of any capital improvements pending or proposed for the coming fiscal year and for
the next four fiscal years, and any other information that the director requests. No
later than August 15, the director submits to the county executive or county
administrator and to the county board all of the following: 1) the annual budget
estimates of each department; 2) a statement of principal and interest becoming due
on outstanding bonds and on other financial obligations; 3) an estimate of all other
expenditures; 4) an estimate of anticipated issues of new bond obligations; 5) an
estimate of funds required for contingencies; 6) an estimate of revenue from all other
sources; and 7) a complete summary of all the budget estimates and a statement of
the property tax levy required if funds were appropriated on the basis of these
After receiving the estimates, the county executive or county administrator
reviews the estimates and holds public hearings. The county executive or county
administrator then makes changes in the proposed budget and, no later than
October 1, submits the amended proposed budget to the county board. The amended
proposed budget of the county executive or administrator must include all of the
following: 1) a simple, clear, general summary of the detailed contents of the budget;
2) a comparative statement by organization unit and principal object of expenditure
showing the actual expenditures of the preceding fiscal year, the appropriations and
estimated expenditures for the fiscal year currently ending, and the recommended
appropriations for the fiscal year next succeeding; and 3) a comparative statement
of the actual revenues from all sources, including property taxes, during the
preceding fiscal year; the anticipated revenues and the estimated revenues for the
fiscal year currently ending; and the anticipated revenues for the next succeeding
fiscal year.
After receiving the amended proposed budget, the county board refers the
budget to the finance committee and the finance committee holds a public hearing
on the budget. After the public hearing, the finance committee submits to the county
board its recommendations for amendments to the proposed amended budget.
Finally, the county board adopts the budget with any changes it considers proper and
Similarly, current law specifies certain annual budgetary procedures for first
class cities (presently only Milwaukee) and other cities that choose to follow these

procedures. The procedures include the following requirements: 1) production of a
general summary; 2) detailed estimates of all anticipated revenues applicable to
proposed expenditures; 3) all proposed expenditures; 4) a compensation schedule; 5)
the total amount of proposed expenditures for the current year, the proposed amount
for the next year, and the percentage change between the two years; and 6) the
current year and next year's proposed property tax levy, along with the percentage
Current law for cities also includes responsibilities for the board of estimates
and detailed requirements for budget review and adoption procedures, public
meetings, mayoral vetoes, and common council procedures to override such
Generally under this bill, for fiscal years that begin after December 31, 2017,
any county or municipality (political subdivision) may adopt a biennial budget using
the following timeline:
1. All departments submit their budget requests to the director or municipal
budget director.
2. No later than October 1 of an odd-numbered year, the chief executive of a
municipality, the county executive, county administrator, or, in counties without an
executive or administrator, the county's finance committee submits his or her or its
proposed budget to the county board or municipality's governing body.
3. No later than November 1 of an odd-numbered year, the county board of a
county with a county executive or a municipality's governing body approves the
budget, engrossed with any amendments, and returns it to the county or chief
executive. In any county or municipality, any amendment to the budget must be
submitted to the comptroller or budget director at least seven business days before
it may be considered by a political subdivision's governing body or by a committee of
the governing body and must include an estimate, prepared by the comptroller, of the
costs that will be incurred, and the staffing changes that will be required, to
implement the amendment during the next five fiscal years. If the county or
municipality does not have a comptroller, the estimate must be prepared by the
county or municipal budget director.
4. No later than November 15 of an odd-numbered year, the county executive
or the mayor may submit vetoes or changes to the county board or common council.
The county board or common council may act on the vetoes or changes no earlier than
upon receiving them or November 16, whichever occurs first, although the county
board or common council must act on the changes or vetoes no later than November
19 of an odd-numbered year or the vetoes or changes are considered to be approved
by the governing body.
5. After a biennial budget takes effect, if revenues received or expenses
incurred by the political subdivision are different from the amounts anticipated, the
county executive or municipality's chief executive may increase or decrease
appropriation amounts as he or she determines is appropriate to account for the
changed revenue or expense amounts that affect the political subdivision.
6. Outside of the budget process, a political subdivision's chief executive, a
county administrator, or, in a county without a county executive or administrator, the

finance committee may propose to the political subdivision's governing body an
increase or decrease in any appropriation or revenue amount subject to the same
budget amendment procedures described in item #3., above. A two-thirds majority
vote of the governing body is required to approve such a proposal, which may not be
amended, except that if such a proposal is made and voted on between October 1 and
November 15 of an even-numbered year, it may be approved by a simple majority
and may be amended on a limited basis.
This bill also provides certain restrictions on the county board's and
municipality's governing body's actions related to the budget, including the
1. The budget must include all of the following items, and may include no
others: a) the county or municipal tax levy; b) anticipated revenue amounts from all
sources; and c) appropriations for all departments, and for any other obligations of
the county or municipality.
2. The county board of a county with a county executive and a municipality's
governing body may not issue municipal obligations in an amount that is higher than
the amount initially proposed by the county or chief executive in his or her proposed
budget for that biennium. During a biennium, however, a county executive or
municipal chief executive may propose, outside of the budget process, the issuance
of additional county or municipal obligations. The county board or municipal
governing body may approve such a proposal, but may not increase the amount
3. A political subdivision's authority to transfer unencumbered appropriation
balances is subject to certain limitations.
4. With regard to a populous county, and subject to some exceptions, the county
board may not adopt a budget in which the total amount of budgeted expenditures
related to the compensation of county board members, and to any other costs that are
directly related to the operation and functioning of the county board or committees,
including staff, is greater than 0.4 percent of the county portion of the tax levy for
that year to which the budget applies. Some of the exceptions to this 0.4 percent cap
include health care and pension benefits for retired county employees and officers,
and salaries and benefits for any board member whose term begins before April 2018.
Accounting procedures
This bill also requires populous counties to utilize fund accounting and
authorizes any county to create proprietary funds, fiduciary funds, and other
appropriate funds allowed by government accounting practice, provided that the
county describes the sources of revenues that may be deposited into each fund and
the types of expenditures that may be made from each fund. In counties without a
county executive, such funds may be created by the county board. In counties with
a county executive, such funds may be created only by executive order of the county
executive. Counties that create proprietary, fiduciary, or other funds must develop
policies and procedures that apply to each such fund, including setting a working
cash flow target for each fund, publishing annual estimates of working cash flow
balances, and descriptions of possible uses of balances in a fund that accumulate
above the cash flow target.

Compensation, certain elective officials
This bill also makes the following changes to the method for establishing the
compensation of county supervisors and county elective officers other than circuit
1. Requires that a county board of supervisors may change the compensation
of county supervisors only by enacting an ordinance for that purpose at least three
months before, but not more than six months before, the next due date for filing
nomination papers for the office of supervisor.
2. Provides that the county executive, county administrator, or administrative
coordinator of each county may elect to appoint a commission, composed of five
people who are not holding a federal, state, or local elective office, that must make
recommendations to the county board concerning the compensation for each county
elective officer other than supervisor and circuit judge. The bill requires the county
board to enact an ordinance establishing that the compensation for county elective
officers other than circuit judges and supervisors is identical to the compensation
commission's recommendations.
For further information see the local fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
SB777,1 1Section 1. 46.21 (1m) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
SB777,7,122 46.21 (1m) (a) The county executive shall appoint under ss. 63.01 to 63.17 a
3director of the county department of human services. The appointment shall be
4made on the basis of recognized and demonstrated public interest in and knowledge
5of the problems of human services, and with due regard to training, experience,
6executive and administrative ability and efficiency, and general qualifications and
7fitness for performing the duties of the office. The director shall file an official oath
8and bond in the amount determined by the county board of supervisors. The county
9board of supervisors may create a position of deputy director of the county
10department of human services. The director shall be appointed by the county
11executive in the unclassified civil service and is subject to confirmation by the county
12board of supervisors under s. 59.17 (2) (bm)