2. `Petition and referendum.'
Except as provided in subd. 3.
, the electors of a county may, by petition and referendum, decrease the number of supervisors at any time after the first election is held following enactment of a decennial supervisory district plan under par. (b)
. A petition for a change in the number of supervisors may be filed with the county clerk. Prior to circulating a petition to decrease the number of supervisors in any county, a petitioner shall register with the county clerk, giving the petitioner's name and address and indicating the petitioner's intent to file such a petition. No signature on a petition is valid unless the signature is obtained within the 60-day period following such registration. The petition shall specify the proposed number of supervisors to be elected. Within 14 days after the last day for filing an original petition, any other petitioner may file an alternative petition with the county clerk proposing a different number of supervisors to be elected, and, if the petition is valid, the alternative proposed in the petition shall be submitted for approval at the same referendum. An alternative petition is subject to the same registration and signature requirements as an original petition. Each petition shall be in the form specified in s. 8.40
and shall contain a number of signatures of electors of the county equal to at least 25 percent of the total votes cast in the county for the office of supervisor at the most recent spring election preceding the date of filing. The county clerk shall promptly determine the sufficiency of a petition filed under this subdivision. Upon determination that a petition is sufficient, or if one or more valid alternative petitions are filed, upon determination that the petitions are sufficient, the county clerk shall call a referendum concurrently with the next spring or general election in the county that is held not earlier than 70 days after the determination is made. The question proposed at the referendum shall be: “Shall the board of supervisors of .... County be decreased from .... members to .... members?". If one or more alternative valid petitions are filed within 14 days after the last day that an original petition may be filed, the question relating to the number of supervisors shall appear separately. The first question shall be: “Shall the size of the county board of supervisors of .... County be decreased from its current membership of .... members?". Any subsequent question shall be: “If so, shall the size of the board be decreased to .... members?". Each elector may vote in the affirmative or negative on the first question and may then vote in the affirmative on one of the remaining questions. If the first question is not approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question, any subsequent question is of no effect. If the question is approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question, or, if more than one question is submitted, if the first question is approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question, the board shall enact an ordinance prescribing revised boundaries for the supervisory districts in the county. The ordinance shall be enacted in accordance with the approved question or, if more than one question is submitted, in accordance with the choice receiving a plurality of the votes cast. The districts are subject to the same requirements that apply to districts in any plan enacted by the board under subd. 1.
If the board has determined under sub. (1) (b)
to adopt staggered terms for the office of supervisor, the board may change the expiration date of the term of any supervisor to an earlier date than the date provided under current ordinance if required to implement the redistricting or to maintain classes of members. The county clerk shall file a certified copy of any redistricting plan enacted under this subdivision with the secretary of state.
If the number of supervisors in a county is decreased by the board or by petition under this paragraph, no further action may be taken by the board or by petition under this paragraph in that county until after enactment of the next decennial supervisory district plan by the board under par. (b)
4. `Election; term.'
Any redistricting plan enacted under subd. 1.
takes effect on November 15 following its enactment and first applies to the election of supervisors at the next spring election following the effective date that immediately precedes the expiration of the terms of office of supervisors in the county. Any reduction in the number of supervisory districts under subd. 2.
that is approved at a spring election shall be enacted in the form of a redistricting plan no later than November 15 following that election and shall first apply to the election of supervisors at the next spring election immediately preceding the expiration of the terms of office of supervisors in the county, and any reduction in the number of supervisory districts under subd. 2.
that is approved at a general election shall be enacted in the form of a redistricting plan no later than the 2nd succeeding November 15 following that election and shall first apply to the election of supervisors at the next spring election following that November 15 immediately preceding the expiration of the terms of office of supervisors in the county. Any redistricting plan enacted under subd. 1.
shall remain in effect until the effective date of any subsequent redistricting plan enacted under sub. (3) (c)
or until the effective date of a redistricting plan subsequently enacted under par. (b)
. Supervisors elected from the districts created under subd. 1.
shall serve for 2-year terms and shall take office on the 3rd Tuesday in April following their election.
Election and term of supervisors.
Supervisors are county officers, shall be elected for 2-year terms at the election to be held on the first Tuesday in April in even-numbered years and shall take office on the 3rd Tuesday in April of that year.
If a vacancy occurs on the board, the board chairperson, with the approval of the board, shall appoint a person who is a qualified elector and resident of the supervisory district to fill the vacancy. The successor shall serve for the unexpired portion of the term to which the person is appointed, unless the board orders a special election to fill the vacancy, in which case the person appointed shall serve until his or her successor is elected and qualified. The board may, if a vacancy occurs before June 1 in the year preceding expiration of the term of office, order a special election to fill the vacancy. If the board orders a special election during the period beginning on June 1 and ending on November 30 of any year, the special election shall be held concurrently with the succeeding spring election. If the board orders a special election during the period beginning on December 1 and ending on May 31 of the succeeding year, the special election shall be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November following the date of the order. A person so elected shall serve for the residue of the unexpired term.
Each supervisor shall be paid a per diem by the county for each day that he or she attends a meeting of the board. Any board may, at its annual meeting, by a two-thirds vote of all the members, fix the compensation of the board members to be next elected. Any board may also provide additional compensation for the chairperson.
Each supervisor shall, for each day that he or she attends a meeting of the board, receive mileage for each mile traveled in going to and returning from the meetings by the most usual traveled route at the rate established by the board under s. 59.22
as the standard mileage allowance for all county employees and officers.
Limitation on compensation.
Except for services as a member of a committee as provided in s. 59.13
no supervisor shall be paid for more days' attendance on the board in any year than is set out in this schedule: in counties having a population of less than 25,000, 20 days; at least 25,000 but less than 100,000, 25 days; at least 100,000 but less than 750,000, 30 days.
As an alternative method of compensation, in counties having a population of less than 750,000, including counties containing only one town, the board may at its annual meeting, by a two-thirds vote of the members entitled to a seat, fix the compensation of the supervisors to be next elected at an annual salary for all services for the county including all committee services, except the per diem allowance for services in acquiring highway rights-of-way set forth in s. 84.09 (4)
. The board may, in like manner, allow additional salary for the members of the highway committee and for the chairperson of the board. In addition to the salary, the supervisors shall receive mileage as provided in par. (g)
for each day's attendance at board meetings or for attendance at not to exceed 2 committee meetings in any one day.
The board, in establishing an annual salary, may enact an ordinance providing for a per diem for all committee meetings attended in excess of 40 committee and board meetings.
No county officer or employee is eligible for election or appointment to the office of supervisor, but a supervisor may also be a member of a committee, board or commission appointed by the county executive or county administrator or appointed or created by the county board, a town board, a mosquito control district, the common council of his or her city, the board of trustees of his or her village or the board of trustees of a county institution appointed under s. 46.18
Counties having only one town.
In all counties containing one town only, the board shall consist of the members of the town board and one supervisor from every village. A supervisor from a village shall be elected at the time the other village officers are elected. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum of the county board. Each supervisor shall receive compensation and mileage as provided in sub. (3) (f)
. The chairperson of the board elected under s. 59.12 (1)
may be, but need not be, the same person who is elected chairperson of the town board under s. 60.21 (3) (a)
Enforcement of division requirement.
If a county fails to comply with sub. (2) (a)
or (3) (b)
, any municipality located in whole or in part within the county or any elector of the county may submit to the circuit court for the county within 14 days from the expiration of either 60-day period under sub. (2) (a)
or (3) (b)
a proposed tentative supervisory district plan or a final plan for creation of supervisory districts in compliance with this section. If the court finds that the existing division of the county into supervisory districts fails to comply with this section, it shall review the plan submitted by the petitioner and after reasonable notice to the county may promulgate the plan, or any other plan in compliance with this section, and the plan shall be in effect until superseded by a plan adopted by the board in compliance with this section.
History: 1971 c. 134
; 1973 c. 118
; 1973 c. 334
; 1973 c. 336
; 1975 c. 93
; 1975 c. 116
; 1977 c. 427
; 1979 c. 34
; 1981 c. 4
; 1983 a. 29
; 1983 a. 192
, 303 (1)
, (2); 1983 a. 484
; 1983 a. 532
; 1985 a. 29
; 1989 a. 56
; 1991 a. 5
; 1993 a. 490
; 1995 a. 16
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.10; 1997 a. 35
; 1999 a. 150
; 2001 a. 107
; 2003 a. 32
; 2005 a. 100
; 2007 a. 72
; 2011 a. 39
; 2013 a. 14
; 2015 a. 196
; 2017 a. 207
See s. 17.21 (5)
for provision as to filling vacancies on county boards in counties over 750,000.
See s. 59.20 (1)
for county supervisor residency requirements.
See s. 66.0505
for restrictions on changes in compensation of county board members.
Judicial relief is available if a county fails to follow the statutory requirements for redistricting. City of Janesville v. County of Rock, 107 Wis. 2d 187
, 319 N.W.2d 891
(Ct. App. 1982).
The trial court properly voided a city's supervisory district plan and adopted the county's plan even though the county did not adopt the plan within 60 days of receiving census data as required by sub. (3). County of La Crosse v. City of La Crosse, 108 Wis. 2d 560
, 322 N.W.2d 531
(Ct. App. 1982).
Sub. (3) (a) does not establish a separate minimum for each class of county. The constitutionality of sub. (3) (a) is discussed. 60 Atty. Gen. 327.
A vacancy on a county board due to resignation may be filled by appointment by the county board chairperson when the board is not in session. 61 Atty. Gen. 1.
An incumbent county supervisor must resign before the county board may consider his or her appointment as highway commissioner. 61 Atty. Gen. 424.
A county board supervisor risks violations of s. 946.13 if he is appointed as counsel for indigent defendants. 62 Atty. Gen. 62, 118.
Under sub. (3) (c) alteration of county supervisory district boundaries between decennial censuses is authorized only when ward boundaries originally relied upon in reapportioning the county have been subsequently altered by incorporation, annexation, detachment, or consolidation. 63 Atty. Gen. 544.
Section 59.06 (2) (intro.) [now s. 59.13 (2) (intro.)] does not prohibit payment of additional mileage under s. 59.03 (3) (g) [now sub. (3) (g)]. 68 Atty. Gen. 73.
State law does not prohibit either discontinuation of all health insurance for county supervisors in self-organized counties during supervisors' terms of office or modest but involuntary increases in health insurance premiums for county supervisors in self-organized counties during supervisors' terms of office. OAG 5-11
A tribal law enforcement officer who is an active duty deputy sheriff, but is not on the county's payroll, may not serve as a county board supervisor. Under sub. (4), the office of county supervisor is incompatible with the office of active duty deputy sheriff, even if the deputy sheriff is not paid by the county. OAG 3-13
The provision of health, dental, and life insurance and the payment of insurance premiums for county supervisors are not “compensation" under sub. (3). Thus the procedural requirements of that statute are inapplicable to motions or proposals to change those benefits. OAG 5-13
Meetings; adjournment; absentees. 59.11(1)(a)
Every board shall hold an annual meeting on the Tuesday after the 2nd Monday of November in each year for the purpose of transacting business. Any board may establish by rule an earlier date during October or November for the annual meeting and may by rule establish regular meeting dates throughout the year at which to transact general business. When the day of the meeting falls on November 11, the meeting shall be held on the next succeeding day.
The annual meeting may be adjourned by the clerk, upon the written request of a majority of the supervisors, to a day designated in the request, but not less than one week nor more than 3 weeks from the Tuesday after the 2nd Monday of November. Upon such an adjournment being made, the clerk shall give each supervisor written notice of the time and place to which the annual meeting has been adjourned.
The board, except in counties with a population of 750,000 or more, shall meet on the 3rd Tuesday of each April to organize and transact business. At this meeting the board may transact any business permitted at the annual meeting, including the appointment of all county commissions and committees. The meeting may be adjourned in the same manner as the annual meeting.
A special meeting of the board shall be held:
Upon a written request of a majority of the supervisors delivered to the clerk, specifying the time and place of the meeting. The time shall not be less than 48 hours from the delivery of the request. Upon receiving the request the clerk shall immediately mail to each supervisor notice of the time and place of the meeting. Any special meeting may be adjourned by a vote of a majority of all the supervisors. The board by ordinance may establish a separate procedure for convening the board in a “declared emergency" as defined by county ordinance.
For the purposes and in the manner prescribed in s. 31.06
, with the right to adjourn the special meeting from time to time by a vote of a majority of all the supervisors entitled to a seat. The clerk shall mail written notice of the special meeting, specifying the time, place and purpose of the meeting, to each supervisor not less than 2 weeks before the day set for the meeting.
In a county with a population of 750,000 or more, upon a written request of the county executive delivered to the clerk which must have been approved by the county board chairperson, specifying the time and place of the meeting. The time shall not be less than 48 hours from the delivery of the request. Upon receiving the request and the approval of the county board chairperson, the clerk shall immediately mail to each supervisor notice of the time and place of the meeting. Any special meeting may be adjourned by a vote of a majority of all the supervisors.
All meetings shall be held in the county at places that are designated by the board. The board shall give adequate public notice of the time, place and purpose of each meeting.
The board shall sit with open doors, and all persons conducting themselves in an orderly manner may attend. If any supervisor misses or leaves a meeting of the board without good cause or without being first excused by the board, the chairperson may issue a warrant requiring the sheriff or some constable immediately to arrest and bring the supervisor before the board. The expenses of the arrest shall be deducted from the pay of the member unless otherwise directed by the board. The board may punish its members for infraction of its rules by imposing the penalty provided in the rules.
The board may appropriate funds to broadcast by radio or television, or to tape and rebroadcast, any meeting of the board held under this section.
A county clerk can adjourn a regular meeting of the county board when requested by majority of the elected members of the board. 61 Atty. Gen. 352.
Chairperson; vice chairperson; powers and duties. 59.12(1)(1)
The board, at the first meeting after each regular election at which members are elected for full terms, shall elect a member chairperson. The chairperson shall perform all duties required of the chairperson until the board elects a successor. The chairperson may administer oaths to persons required to be sworn concerning any matter submitted to the board or a committee of the board or connected with their powers or duties. The chairperson shall countersign all ordinances of the board, and shall preside at meetings when present. When directed by ordinance the chairperson shall countersign all county orders, transact all necessary board business with local and county officers, expedite all measures resolved upon by the board and take care that all federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations pertaining to county government are enforced.
The board at the time of the election of the chairperson shall also elect a member vice chairperson, for the same term, who in case of the absence or disability of the chairperson shall perform the chairperson's duties. The board at the time of the election of the chairperson may also elect a member 2nd vice chairperson, for the same term, who in case of the absence or disability of the chairperson and vice chairperson shall perform the duties of the chairperson. Except for the board of a county with a population of 750,000 or more, the board may provide for the payment of additional compensation to the vice chairpersons.
In case of the absence of a chairperson for any meeting the members present shall choose another member to be temporary chairperson.
A county board cannot adopt a resolution that infringes on the power of a succeeding board to elect its chairperson and vice chairperson. 61 Atty. Gen. 108.
Removal of the chairperson of a county board may be at the will of a simple majority of the board under this section. Section 17.10 is inapplicable. Nothing in this section requires the county board to have any particular reason for removing its chairperson. An incumbent chairperson may be removed at will by the county board simply by voting to elect someone else to that position. OAG 1-07
Committees; appointment; compensation. 59.13(1)(1)
The board may, by resolution designating the purposes and prescribing the duties thereof and manner of reporting, authorize their chairperson to appoint before June 1 in any year committees from the members of the board, and the committees so appointed shall perform the duties and report as prescribed in the resolution.
Except as provided under sub. (3)
, committee members shall receive such compensation for their services as the board allows, not exceeding the per diem and mileage allowed to members of the board and the committee members shall receive such compensation, mileage and reimbursement for other expenses as the board allows for their attendance at any school, institute or meeting which the board directs them to attend. No supervisor shall be allowed pay for committee service while the board is in session, nor for mileage except in connection with services performed within the time limited under this subsection. The number of days for which compensation and mileage may be paid a committee member in any year, except members of committees appointed to have charge of the erection of any county building, and except as otherwise provided by law, are limited as follows:
In counties containing less than 25,000 population, to 20 days, not more than 10 of which shall be for services on any one committee, except that the board may increase the number of committee meetings under par. (b)
and similarly fix the compensation of the members for the additional meetings.
In counties with a population of 25,000 or more, to 30 days for services on committees, except that the board may, by a two-thirds vote of the members present, increase the number of days for which compensation and mileage may be paid in any year and fix the compensation for each additional day.
A supervisor in a county with a population of 750,000 or more may not accept any compensation in addition to his or her regular salary for serving as a member of any committee, board or commission appointed by the county board or by the county executive.
History: 1983 a. 192
s. 303 (1)
; 1985 a. 29
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.13; 2017 a. 207
A county board may not delegate appointment of committee members to a committee of the board. 61 Atty. Gen. 214.
Section 59.06 (2) (intro.) [now sub. (2) (intro.)] does not prohibit payment of additional mileage under s. 59.03 (3) (g) [now s. 59.10 (3) (g)]. 68 Atty. Gen. 73.
County board resolutions creating special or standing committees under this section or creating rules of procedure relative to executive matters or the administration of law are subject to veto in counties under 500,000 [now 750,000]. 68 Atty. Gen. 182.
A county board's power to delegate authority concerning property transactions to its committees is discussed. 74 Atty. Gen. 227
Except in self-organized counties under s. 59.03 (1) [now s. 59.10 (1)], a county board may not establish multiple per diem compensation for attendance at more than one committee meeting on the same day on days when the county board is not in session. 79 Atty. Gen. 122
Publication of ordinances and proceedings. 59.14(1)(1)
Whenever a board enacts an ordinance under this chapter the clerk shall immediately publish the ordinance either in its entirety, as a class 1 notice, under ch. 985
, or as a notice, as described under sub. (1m) (b)
; and the clerk shall procure and distribute copies of the ordinance to the several town clerks, who shall file it in their respective offices.
In this subsection, “summary" means a brief, precise, and plain-language description that can be easily understood.
A notice of an ordinance that may be published under this subsection shall be published as a class 1 notice under ch. 985
and shall contain at least all of the following:
A summary of the subject matter and main points of the ordinance.
Information as to where the full text of the ordinance may be obtained, including the phone number of the county clerk, a street address where the full text of the ordinance may be viewed, and a website, if any, at which the ordinance may be accessed.
The board shall, by ordinance or resolution, provide for publication in one or more newspapers in the county as a class 1 notice, under ch. 985
, a certified copy of all its proceedings had at any meeting, regular or special; said publication to be completed within 60 days after the adjournment of each session.
The board may at any meeting, regular or special, provide by resolution for the publication in pamphlet form by the lowest and best bidder therefor, of a sufficient and designated number of copies of its duly certified proceedings, for general distribution.
The board may order public notices relating to tax redemption and other affairs of the county to be published in a newspaper printed in any other than the English language, to be designated in such order, whenever the board considers it necessary for the better information of the inhabitants of the county, and it shall appear from the last previous census that one-fourth or more of the adult population of the county is of a nationality not speaking the English language, and that there shall have been a newspaper published in the county continuously for one year or more in the language spoken by that nationality; but all of the notices shall also be published in a newspaper published in the English language as provided by law. The compensation for all of the publications shall be paid by the county ordering the publications, and shall be the same as that prescribed by law for publication in the English language; and no extra charge shall be allowed for translation in any case. No irregularity, mistake or informality in any such publication shall affect the validity or regularity of any tax redemptions or other legal proceedings.
History: 1987 a. 378
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.14; 2007 a. 72
; 2017 a. 365
Sub. (1) is discussed in reference to the effect of the failure to distribute and the requirements of distribution and publication. 62 Atty. Gen. 81.
Codification and publication of ordinances is discussed. 70 Atty. Gen. 124.
A county with a population of less that 250,000 is not required to designate an official newspaper. A county is not required to seek bids for the publication of legal notices. Even if a county does not competitively bid the publication of its own proceedings as provided in sub. (3), it may print its own proceedings or post them on its website. A county may not, in lieu of publication in a printed newspaper or posting on a physical bulletin board, post its legal notices on its official website. OAG 2-08
Neglect of duty.
Any supervisor who refuses or neglects to perform any of the duties which are required of the supervisor by law as a member of the board, without just cause therefor, shall for each such refusal or neglect forfeit not less than $50 nor more than $200.
History: 1991 a. 316
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.15; 1995 a. 225
; 1997 a. 35
A county board may provide for a penalty in the nature of a forfeiture for the violation of a code of ethics ordinance but may not bar violators from running for office. A violation is not a neglect of duties under this section or ipso facto cause for removal under s. 17.09 (1). 66 Atty. Gen. 148. See also 67 Atty. Gen. 164.
County executive. 59.17(1)(1)
Election and term of office. 59.17(1)(a)(a)
In each county with a population of 750,000 or more, a county executive shall be elected for a 4-year term at the election to be held on the first Tuesday in April of each year in which county supervisors are elected, and shall take office on the first Monday in May following the election. The county executive shall be elected from residents of the county at large by a majority vote of all qualified electors in the county voting in the election. In any county which attains a population of 750,000 or more, the first election under this paragraph shall be held on the first Tuesday in April in the year following the official announcement of the federal census.
Counties with a population of less than 750,000 may by resolution of the board or by petition and referendum create the office of county executive or abolish it by petition and referendum. If the office of county executive is abolished, the person serving in the office shall complete the term to which elected. The county executive shall be elected the same as a county executive is elected under par. (a)
for a term of 4 years commencing with the first spring election occurring at least 120 days after the creation of the office and shall take office on the 3rd Tuesday in April of that year. Such petition and election shall follow the procedure provided in s. 9.20 (1)
, except that in case of conflict this subsection shall control.
Duties and powers.
The county executive shall be the chief executive officer of the county. The county executive shall take care that every county ordinance and state or federal law is observed, enforced and administered within his or her county if the ordinance or law is subject to enforcement by the county executive or any person supervised by the county executive. The duties and powers of the county executive shall be, without limitation because of enumeration, to:
Coordinate and direct all administrative and management functions of the county government not otherwise vested by law in other elected officers.
In any county with a population of 750,000 or more: