59.696   Zoning; filing fees.
59.697   Fees for zoning appeals.
59.698   Zoning, building inspector.
59.70   Environmental protection and land use.
59.71   Special counties; record keeping.
59.72   Land information.
59.73   Surveys; expressing bearings, subdividing sections.
59.74   Perpetuation of section corners, landmarks.
59.75   Certificates and records as evidence.
59.76   Registration of farms.
59.79   Milwaukee County.
59.792   Milwaukee County; sewage, waste, refuse.
59.794   Milwaukee County; limitations on board authority and on intergovernmental cooperation, shared services.
59.796   Milwaukee County; opportunity schools and partnership program.
59.80   Milwaukee County; city-county crime commission.
59.81   Cash flow, Milwaukee.
59.82   Milwaukee County Research and Technology Park.
59.84   Expressways and mass transit facilities in populous counties.
59.85   Appropriation bonds for payment of employee retirement system liability in populous counties.
59.86   Agreements and ancillary arrangements for certain notes and appropriation bonds.
59.87   Employee retirement system liability financing in populous counties; additional powers.
59.875   Payment of contributions in and employment of annuitants under an employee retirement system of populous counties.
59.88   Employee retirement system of populous counties; duty disability benefits for a mental injury.
59.90   Provisions applicable to certain counties with special sales tax authority.
subch. I of ch. 59 SUBCHAPTER I
59.001 59.001 Definitions. In this chapter, unless the context clearly indicates to the contrary:
59.001(1) (1)“Board" means the county board of supervisors.
59.001(2) (2)“Clerk" means the county clerk.
59.001(2m) (2m)“Members-elect" means those members of the governing body of a county, city, village or town, at a particular time, who have been duly elected or appointed for a current regular or unexpired term and whose service has not terminated by death, resignation or removal from office.
59.001(2r) (2r)“Municipal clerk" means the clerk of a municipality.
59.001(3) (3)“Municipality" means any city, village or town.
59.001(3m) (3m)“Municipal treasurer" means the treasurer of a municipality.
59.001(3r) (3r)“Professional land surveyor" means a professional land surveyor licensed under ch. 443.
59.001(4) (4)“Treasurer" means the county treasurer.
59.001 History History: 1989 a. 260, 268; 1995 a. 201; 2013 a. 358.
subch. II of ch. 59 SUBCHAPTER II
59.01 59.01 Body corporate; status. Each county in this state is a body corporate, authorized to sue and be sued, to acquire and hold, lease or rent real and personal estate for public uses or purposes, including lands acquired under ch. 75, to sell, lease and convey the same, including the authority to enter into leases or contracts with the state for a period of years for the uses and purposes specified in s. 23.09 (2) (d), to make such contracts and to do such other acts as are necessary and proper to the exercise of the powers and privileges granted and the performance of the legal duties charged upon it.
59.01 History History: 1987 a. 378; 1995 a. 201.
59.01 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See ss. 75.35 and 75.69 for restrictions on the sale of tax deeded land.
59.01 Annotation Discussing civil rights actions against municipalities. Starstead v. City of Superior, 533 F. Supp. 1365 (1982).
59.02 59.02 Powers, how exercised; quorum.
59.02(1)(1)The powers of a county as a body corporate can only be exercised by the board, or in pursuance of a resolution adopted or ordinance enacted by the board.
59.02(2) (2)Ordinances may be enacted and resolutions may be adopted by a majority vote of a quorum or by such larger vote as may be required by law. Ordinances shall commence as follows: “The county board of supervisors of the county of .... does ordain as follows".
59.02(3) (3)A majority of the supervisors who are entitled to a seat on the board shall constitute a quorum. All questions shall be determined by a majority of the supervisors who are present unless otherwise provided.
59.02 History History: 1977 c. 447; 1995 a. 201.
59.02 Annotation The county board's failure to use the prescribed language of sub. (2) did not invalidate an ordinance. Cross v. Soderbeck, 94 Wis. 2d 331, 288 N.W.2d 779 (1980).
59.02 Annotation A supervisor who is required to abstain is not “present" for calculating the number of votes required for passage. Ballenger v. Door County, 131 Wis. 2d 422, 388 N.W.2d 624 (Ct. App. 1986).
59.03 59.03 Home rule.
59.03(1)(1)Administrative home rule. Every county may exercise any organizational or administrative power, subject only to the constitution and to any enactment of the legislature which is of statewide concern and which uniformly affects every county.
59.03(2) (2)Consolidation of municipal services, home rule, metropolitan district.
59.03(2)(a) (a) Subject to s. 59.794 (2) and (3) and except as elsewhere specifically provided in these statutes, the board of any county is vested with all powers of a local, legislative and administrative character, including without limitation because of enumeration, the subject matter of water, sewers, streets and highways, fire, police, and health, and to carry out these powers in districts which it may create for different purposes, or throughout the county, and for such purposes to levy county taxes, to issue bonds, assessment certificates and improvement bonds, or any other evidence of indebtedness. The powers hereby conferred may be exercised by the board in any municipality, or part thereof located in the county upon the request of any such municipality, evidenced by a resolution adopted by a majority vote of the members-elect of its governing body, designating the particular function, duty or act, and the terms, if any, upon which the powers shall be exercised by the board or by a similar resolution adopted by direct legislation in the municipality in the manner provided in s. 9.20. The resolution shall further provide whether the authority or function is to be exercised exclusively by the county or jointly by the county and the municipality, and shall also find that the exercise of such power by the county would be in the public interest. Upon the receipt of the resolution, the board may, by a resolution adopted by a majority vote of its membership, elect to assume the exercise of the function, upon the terms and conditions set forth in the resolution presented by the municipality.
59.03(2)(b) (b) The board of any county may, by a resolution adopted by a majority of its membership, propose to any of the municipalities located in the county that it offers to exercise such powers and functions therein in order to consolidate municipal services and functions in the county. Such resolution shall designate the particular function, duty or act and the terms and conditions, if any, upon which the board will perform the function, duty or act. The powers conferred in par. (a) and designated in such resolution may thereafter be exercised by the board in each municipality which accepts the proposal by the adoption of a resolution by a majority vote of the members-elect of its governing body or by direct legislation in the manner provided in s. 9.20.
59.03(2)(c) (c) Whenever the request under par. (a) or acceptance under par. (b) of a municipality is by resolution of its governing board, the request or acceptance shall not go into effect until the expiration of 60 days from the adoption of the resolution or, in the case of county law enforcement services provided to a city as described in s. 62.13 (2s), as provided in s. 62.13 (2s) (d). If a petition under s. 9.20 for direct legislation on the request or acceptance is filed before the expiration of said 60 days, the resolution of the governing board is of no effect but the request or acceptance of such municipality shall be determined by direct legislation, except that no petition for direct legislation under s. 9.20 may be filed to approve or reject a contract entered into by a city and a county under s. 62.13 (2s).
59.03(2)(d) (d) After and upon the adoption of resolutions by the board and subject to par. (c) by one or more municipalities either as provided in par. (a) or (b) the board shall have full power to legislate upon and administer the entire subject matter committed to it, and among other things, to determine, where not otherwise provided by law, the manner of exercising the power thus assumed.
59.03(2)(e) (e) The municipality concerned may enter into necessary contracts with the county, and appropriate money to pay to the county the reasonable expenses incurred by it in rendering the services assumed. Such expenses may be certified, returned and paid as are other county charges, and in the case of services performed under a proposal for the consolidation thereof initiated by the board and made available to each municipality in the county on the same terms, the expenses thereof shall be certified, returned and paid as county charges; but in the event that every municipality in the county accepts the proposal of the board, the expenses thereof shall be paid by county taxes to be levied and collected as are other taxes for county purposes. The municipalities are vested with all necessary power to do the things herein required, and to do all things and to exercise or relinquish any of the powers herein provided or contemplated. The procedure provided in this subsection for the request or acceptance of the exercise of the powers conferred on the board in cities and villages is hereby prescribed as a special method of determining the local affairs and government of such cities and villages under article XI, section 3, of the constitution.
59.03(2)(f) (f) The powers conferred by this subsection shall be in addition to all other grants of power and shall be limited only by express language.
59.03 History History: 1995 a. 201 ss. 97, 99, 243; 2005 a. 40; 2013 a. 14.
59.03 Annotation Sub. (2) provides a unique procedure that may be used in specific fact situations to levy a property tax for a county service, but it is not the only authorization for a county to levy such a tax. Town of Grant v. Portage County, 2017 WI App 69, 378 Wis. 2d 289, 903 N.W.2d 152, 16-2435.
59.03 Annotation County home rule under sub. (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 v. Portage County, 2017 WI App 69, 378 Wis. 2d 289, 903 N.W.2d 152, 16-2435.
59.03 Annotation In a county that does not have a county executive or administrator, the personnel committee of the county board does not possess the statutory authority to remove the county social services director. The county board may not, under s. 59.025 [now sub. (1)], transfer the authority to appoint. 81 Atty. Gen. 145.
59.04 59.04 Construction of powers. To give counties the largest measure of self-government under the administrative home rule authority granted to counties in s. 59.03 (1), this chapter shall be liberally construed in favor of the rights, powers and privileges of counties to exercise any organizational or administrative power.
59.04 History History: 1985 a. 29; 1995 a. 201 s. 98; Stats. 1995 s. 59.04.
59.05 59.05 County seat; change.
59.05(1)(1)The county seat shall be fixed and designated by the board at the first regular meeting after the organization of any county; and no county seat shall be changed except as provided in this section.
59.05(2) (2)If a petition conforming to the requirements of s. 8.40 is filed with the board by at least two-fifths of the legal voters of any county, to be determined by the registration list for the last previous general election held in the county at the time of filing, the names of which voters shall appear on the registration list for such election, asking for a change of the county seat to some other place designated in the petition, the board shall submit the question of removal of the county seat to a vote of the qualified voters of the county. The board shall file the question as provided in s. 8.37. The election shall be held only on the day of the general election, notice of the election shall be given and the election shall be conducted as in the case of the election of officers on that day, and the votes shall be canvassed, certified and returned in the same manner as other votes at that election. The question to be submitted shall be “Shall the county seat of .... county be removed to ....?".
59.05(3) (3)If a majority of the votes cast at the election are in favor of the proposed change, the chairperson of the board shall certify the same, with the attestation of the county clerk, to the governor, who shall issue a proclamation to that effect and publish it in the official state paper. From the date of publication the place designated shall be the county seat. The board may not again submit the question of removal within 5 years.
59.05(4) (4)Notwithstanding subs. (2) and (3), no election to change a county seat may be held for a period of 5 years after the year in which a courthouse or other county building costing $3,000 or more was built at the county seat and occupied for county purposes.
59.05 History History: 1977 c. 427; 1983 a. 192, 484; 1989 a. 192; 1995 a. 201 s. 247; Stats. 1995 s. 59.05; 1997 a. 35; 1999 a. 182; 2003 a. 265.
59.05 Annotation When 40 percent of registered voters were denied ballots in an election to remove a county seat, the election was set aside even though the outcome probably was not affected. McNally v. Tollander, 100 Wis. 2d 490, 302 N.W.2d 440 (1981).
59.06 59.06 County property.
59.06(1)(1)How held. County property shall be held by the clerk in the name of the county. All property, real or personal, conveyed to the county or to its inhabitants or to any person for the use of the county or its inhabitants is county property. Such conveyances have the same effect as if made directly to the county by name.
59.06(2) (2)Effect of transfer. All deeds, contracts and agreements made on behalf of the county under the directions of the board under s. 59.52 (6), or by a county executive acting under s. 59.17 (2) (b) 3., when signed and acknowledged by the clerk and the county seal is attached, are valid and binding on the county to the extent of the terms of the instrument and the right, title and interest which the county has in the property.
59.06 History History: 1995 a. 201 s. 402; Stats. 1995 s. 59.06; 2013 a. 14.
59.06 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See ss. 75.35 and 75.69 for restrictions on the sale of tax deeded land.
59.07 59.07 Claims against counties; actions on.
59.07(1)(1)No action may be brought or maintained against a county upon a claim or upon a cause of action unless the claimant complies with s. 893.80. This subsection does not apply to actions commenced under s. 19.37, 19.97 or 281.99.
59.07(2) (2)No action may be brought or maintained against a county, for disclosure of information that is received under s. 30.572 (4) and maintained under s. 30.572 (5).
59.07 History History: 1977 c. 285; 1979 c. 323 s. 33; 1981 c. 20; 1991 a. 39; 1995 a. 158; 1995 a. 201 s. 426; Stats. 1995 s. 59.07; 1997 a. 27, 35; 2013 a. 163.
59.08 59.08 Consolidation of counties; procedure; referendum.
59.08(1)(1)Any 2 or more adjoining counties may consolidate into a single county by complying with the requirements and procedure herein specified.
59.08(2) (2)The boards of any 2 or more adjoining counties desiring to consolidate their respective counties into a single county may enter into a joint agreement for the consolidation of the counties, setting forth in the consolidation agreement all of the following:
59.08(2)(a) (a) The names of the several counties which they propose to be consolidated.
59.08(2)(b) (b) The name under which it is proposed to consolidate the counties, which name shall be such as to distinguish it from the name of any other county in Wisconsin, other than the consolidating counties.
59.08(2)(c) (c) The property, real and personal, belonging to each county, and the current fair market value thereof.
2021-22 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2023 Wis. Act 272 and through all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders filed before and in effect on June 19, 2024. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after June 19, 2024, are designated by NOTES. (Published 6-19-24)