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59.52(1) (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, 59.60 and 63.01 to 63.17. 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).
59.52(1)(b) (b) 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, 59.60 and 63.01 to 63.17. 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.
59.52(2) (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.
59.52(3) (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.
59.52(3)(b) (b) 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.
59.52(4) (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) and (c), destroy obsolete records in their custody as follows:
59.52(4)(a)1. 1. Notices of tax apportionment that are received from the secretary of state, after 3 years.
59.52(4)(a)2. 2. Copies of notices of tax apportionment that are sent to local taxing districts by the clerk, after 3 years.
59.52(4)(a)3. 3. Records of bounty claims that are forwarded to the department of natural resources, after one year.
59.52(4)(a)4. 4. 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.
59.52(4)(a)5. 5. Crop reports that are submitted to the clerk by the local assessors, after 3 years.
59.52(4)(a)6. 6. Illegal tax certificates that are charged back to local taxing districts, 3 years after the date of charging back such certificates.
59.52(4)(a)7. 7. 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.
59.52(4)(a)8. 8. Official bonds, after 6 years.
59.52(4)(a)9. 9. Claims that are paid by the county, and papers supporting such claims, after 7 years.
59.52(4)(a)10. 10. Contracts, notices of taking bids, and insurance policies to which the county is a party, 7 years after the last effective day thereof.
59.52(4)(a)11. 11. Reports of town treasurers that are submitted to the clerk on dog licenses sold and records of dog licenses issued, after 3 years.
59.52(4)(a)12. 12. The clerk's copies of all receipts that are issued by the treasurer, 4 years or until after being competently audited, whichever is earlier.
59.52(4)(a)13. 13. 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.
59.52(4)(a)14. 14. Tax receipts, after 15 years.
59.52(4)(a)15. 15. All other receipts of the treasurer, after 7 years.
59.52(4)(a)16. 16. Canceled checks, after 7 years.
59.52(4)(a)17. 17. Oaths of office, after 7 years.
59.52(4)(a)18. 18. 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.
59.52(4)(a)19. 19. 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.
59.52(4)(a)20. 20. 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.
59.52(4)(b) (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:
59.52(4)(b)1. 1. Original papers, resolutions and reports that are connected with board proceedings.
59.52(4)(b)2. 2. Tax rolls.
59.52(4)(b)3. 3. Original minutes of the board.
59.52(4)(c) (c) 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:
59.52(4)(c)1. 1. 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.
59.52(4)(c)2. 2. Tax rolls, after 15 years.
59.52(4)(c)3. 3. No assessment roll that contains forest crop acreage may be destroyed without the prior approval of the secretary of revenue.
59.52(5) (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.
59.52(6) (6)Property. The board may:
59.52(6)(a) (a) How acquired; purposes. Except as provided in s. 59.17 (2) (b) 3., 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).
59.52(6)(b) (b) Control; actions. Make all orders concerning county property and commence and maintain actions to protect the interests of the county.
59.52(6)(c) (c) Transfers. 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.
59.52(6)(d) (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.
59.52(6)(d)2. 2. 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.
59.52(6)(d)3. 3. 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.
59.52(6)(e) (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.
59.52(7) (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.
59.52(8) (8)Civil service system.
59.52(8)(a)(a) 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.
59.52(8)(b) (b) 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:
59.52(8)(b)1. 1. Whether the employee could reasonably be expected to have had knowledge of the probable consequences of his or her alleged conduct.
59.52(8)(b)2. 2. Whether the rule or order that the employee allegedly violated is reasonable.
59.52(8)(b)3. 3. 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.
59.52(8)(b)4. 4. Whether the effort described under subd. 3. was fair and objective.
59.52(8)(b)5. 5. Whether the sheriff discovered substantial evidence that the employee violated the rule or order as described in the charges filed against the employee.
59.52(8)(b)6. 6. Whether the sheriff is applying the rule or order fairly and without discrimination to the employee.
59.52(8)(b)7. 7. 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.
59.52(8)(c) (c) 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.
59.52(9) (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.
59.52(10) (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.
59.52(11) (11)Insurance. The board may:
59.52(11)(a) (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.
59.52(11)(b) (b) Fire and casualty. Provide for fire and casualty insurance for all county property.
59.52(11)(c) (c) Employee insurance. 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, other counties, or county housing authorities 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) to (e) and (g).
59.52(11)(d) (d) 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), (2m), (3), (4) (d) and (dm) and (4m) and 19.07 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.
59.52 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also s. Ins 8.11, Wis. adm. code.
59.52(12) (12)Accounts and claims; settlement. The board may:
59.52(12)(a) (a) Examine and settle all accounts of the county and all claims, demands or causes of action against the county and issue county orders therefor. In counties with a population of less than 50,000, the board may delegate its power in regard to current accounts, claims, demands or causes of action against the county to a standing committee where the amount does not exceed $5,000. In counties with a population of 50,000 or more, the board may delegate its power in regard to current accounts, claims, demands or causes of action against the county to a standing committee if the amount does not exceed $10,000. Instead of delegating its power under this paragraph to a standing committee, the board may, by resolution adopted by majority vote, delegate such power to the chairperson of a standing committee. Such a resolution remains in effect for one year after its effective date or until rescinded, whichever occurs first.
59.52(12)(b) (b) Delegate its power in regard to any claim, demand or cause of action not exceeding $500 to the corporation counsel. If the corporation counsel finds that payment of the claim to a claimant is justified, the corporation counsel may order the claim paid. The claim shall be paid upon certification of the corporation counsel and shall be annually reported to the board.
59.52(13) (13)Injured county workers. The board may, in addition to any payments made under ch. 102, make further payment in such amounts as the board determines to any county employee injured at any time before January 1, 1937, while performing services for the county, in cases in which such further payments were made over a period of time following the injury and were based on a moral obligation to such employee.
59.52(14) (14)Optical disk and electronic storage.
59.52(14)(a)(a) Upon request of any office, department, commission, board or agency of the county, the board may authorize any county record that is in the custody of the office, department, commission, board or agency to be transferred to, or maintained in, optical disk or electronic storage in accordance with rules of the department of administration under s. 16.612. The board may thereafter authorize destruction of the original record, if appropriate, in accordance with sub. (4) and ss. 16.61 (3) (e) and 19.21 (5) unless preservation is required by law.
59.52(14)(b) (b) Any copy of a county record generated from optical imaging or electronic formatting of an original record is considered an original record if all of the following conditions are met:
59.52(14)(b)1. 1. The devices used to transform the record to optical disk or electronic format and to generate a copy of the record from optical disk or electronic format are ones which accurately reproduce the content of the original.
59.52(14)(b)2. 2. The optical disk or electronic copy and the copy generated from optical disk or electronic format comply with the minimum standards of quality for such copies, as established by the rule of the department of administration under s. 16.612.
59.52(14)(b)3. 3. The record is arranged, identified and indexed so that any individual document or component of the record can be located with the use of proper equipment.
59.52(14)(b)4. 4. The legal custodian of the record executes a statement of intent and purpose describing the record to be transferred to optical disk or electronic format and the disposition of the original record, and executes a certificate verifying that the record was received or created and transferred to optical disk or electronic format in the normal course of business and that the statement of intent and purpose is properly recorded in his or her office.
59.52(14)(c) (c) The statement of intent and purpose executed under par. (b) 4. is presumptive evidence of compliance with all conditions and standards prescribed under par. (b).
59.52(14)(d) (d) A copy of a record generated from an original record stored on an optical disk or in electronic format which conforms with the standards prescribed under par. (b) shall be taken as and stand in lieu of and have all of the effect of the original record and shall be admissible in evidence in all courts and all other tribunals or agencies, administrative or otherwise, in all cases where the original document is admissible. A transcript, exemplification or certified copy of such a record so generated, for the purposes specified in this paragraph, is deemed to be a transcript, exemplification or certified copy of the original. An enlarged copy of any record so generated, made in accordance with the standards prescribed under par. (b) and certified by the custodian as provided in s. 889.18 (2), has the same effect as an actual-size copy.
59.52(15) (15)Printing in local tax rolls, etc. The board may provide for the printing in assessment rolls and tax rolls and on data cards for local municipal officials, the descriptions of properties and the names of the owners thereof, but no municipality shall be subject to any tax levied to effect these functions where the municipality provides its own printing for the functions.
59.52(16) (16)Payments in lieu of tax. The board may:
59.52(16)(a) (a) Institutions, state farms, airports. Appropriate each year to any municipality and school district in which a county farm, hospital, charitable or penal institution or state hospital, charitable or penal institution or state-owned lands used for agricultural purposes or county or municipally owned airport is located, an amount of money equal to the amount which would have been paid in municipal and school tax upon the lands without buildings, if those lands were privately owned. The valuation of the lands, without buildings, and computation of the tax shall be made by the board. In making the computation under this paragraph, lands on which a courthouse or jail are located and unimproved county lands shall not be included.
59.52(16)(b) (b) County veterans housing.
59.52(16)(b)1.1. If a county has acquired land and erected on that land housing facilities for rent by honorably discharged U.S. veterans of any war and the land and housing facilities are exempt from general taxation, appropriate money and pay to any school district or joint school district wherein the land and housing facilities are located a sum of money which shall be computed by obtaining the product of the following factors:
59.52(16)(b)1.a. a. The tax rate for school district purposes of the school years for which the payment is made.
59.52(16)(b)1.b. b. The ratio of the assessed valuation to the equalized valuation of the municipality in which the school district lies, multiplied by the actual cost incurred by the county for the acquisition of the land and improvements on the land used for such purposes.
59.52(16)(b)2. 2. In case of a joint school district, computation shall be made on the basis of the valuation of the several municipalities in which the school district lies. If school buildings are inadequate to accommodate the additional school population resulting from the county veterans housing program, and the school district cannot legally finance the necessary increased facilities, the board may appropriate money and grant assistance to the school district but the assistance shall be used solely to finance the purchase of land and the erection and equipment of the necessary additional facilities.
59.52(17) (17)Return of rents to municipalities. The board may return to municipalities all or any part of rent moneys received by the county under leases of county-owned lands.
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2011-12 Wisconsin Statutes updated though 2013 Wis. Act 200 and all Supreme Court Orders entered before April 18, 2014. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after April 18, 2014 are designated by NOTES. (Published 4-18-14)