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 a 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.
Discussing a county board's power to delegate authority concerning property transactions to its committees. 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
Discussing sub. (1) in reference to the effect of the failure to distribute and the requirements of distribution and publication. 62 Atty. Gen. 81.
Discussing codification and publication of ordinances. 70 Atty. Gen. 124.
A county with a population of less than 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:
Appoint and supervise the heads of all departments except where the statutes provide that the appointment shall be made by a board or commission or by other elected officers. Notwithstanding any statutory provision that a board or commission or the county board or county board chairperson appoint a department head, except ss. 17.21
and 59.47 (3)
, the county executive shall appoint and supervise the department head. Except for a statutory provision which specifies that a board or commission or the county board shall supervise the administration of a department, the county executive shall administer, supervise, and direct all county departments, including any person who negotiates on behalf of the county, and the county board, other board, or commission shall perform any advisory or policy-making function authorized by statute. Any appointment by the county executive under this subdivision requires the confirmation of the county board unless the county board, by ordinance, elects to waive confirmation. An appointee of the county executive may assume his or her duties immediately, pending board action which shall take place within 60 days after the county executive submits the appointment to the board for confirmation. Any department head appointed by a county executive under this subsection may be removed at the pleasure of the county executive. The county executive shall comply with hiring policies set by the board when making appointments under this paragraph.
Establish departments in county government, and sections and divisions within those departments, that the county executive believes are necessary for the efficient administration of the county. Any department or subunit of a department that the county executive creates under this subdivision may not be established unless its creation and funding are approved by a vote of the board. The county executive shall administer, supervise, and direct any department or subunit of a department that is created under this subdivision, and those departments and subunits shall report to the county executive.
Exercise the authority under s. 59.52 (6)
that would otherwise be exercised by a county board, except that the county board may continue to exercise the authority under s. 59.52 (6)
with regard to land that is zoned as a park on or after July 14, 2015, other than land zoned as a park in the city of Milwaukee that is located within the area west of Lincoln Memorial Drive, south of E. Michigan Street, east of N. Van Buren Street, and north of E. Clybourn Avenue. With regard to the sale, acquisition, or lease as landlord or tenant of property, other than certain park land as described in this subdivision, the county executive's action need not be consistent with established county board policy and may take effect without submission to or approval by the county board. The proceeds of the sale of property as authorized under this subdivision shall first be applied to any debt attached to the property. Before the county executive's sale of county land may take effect, a majority of the following must sign a document, a copy of which will be attached to the bill of sale and a copy of which will be retained by the county, certifying that they believe the sale is in the best interests of the county:
An individual who is a resident of the city, village, or town where the property is located, who shall be appointed, at least biennially, by the executive council, as defined in s. 59.794 (1) (d)
. The individual appointed under this subd. 3. c.
may not be an elective official, and he or she must have demonstrable experience in real estate law or real estate sales or development.
Sign all contracts, conveyances, and evidences of indebtedness on behalf of the county, to the extent that no other county officer or employee is specifically required to sign such contracts, conveyances, and evidences of indebtedness, and countersign all other contracts, conveyances, and evidences of indebtedness. No contract with the county is valid unless it is signed or countersigned by the county executive and, as provided in ss. 59.255 (2) (e)
and 59.42 (2) (b) 5.
, by the comptroller and corporation counsel.
Introduce proposed ordinances and resolutions for consideration by the board.
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, subject to board approval of the county executive department budget.
Together with the commissioner of the opportunity schools and partnership program under subch. II of ch. 119
, solicit private gifts and grants for use by the commissioner to further the purposes of the opportunity schools and partnership program under subch. II of ch. 119
and without oversight or approval of the county board.
In any county with a population of 750,000 or more, appoint the following persons:
Each appointment under subd. 1.
is subject to the confirmation of the county board and is in the unclassified service, serving at the pleasure of the county executive and holding office until a new appointment is made by the county executive and confirmed by the board. An appointee of the county executive may assume his or her duties immediately, pending board action which shall take place within 60 days after the county executive submits the appointment to the board for confirmation. No prior appointee may serve longer than 6 months after the term for which he or she was appointed and confirmed expires, unless reappointed and reconfirmed. The term of each appointment is 4 years or less. The county executive shall comply with hiring policies set by the board when making appointments under subd. 1.
In any county with a population of less than 750,000, appoint and supervise the heads of all county departments except those elected by the people and except where the statutes provide that the appointment shall be made by other elected officers. Notwithstanding any statutory provision that a board or commission or the county board or county board chairperson appoint a department head, except s. 17.21
, the county executive shall appoint and supervise the department head. Notwithstanding any statutory provision that a board or commission supervise the administration of a department, the department head shall supervise the administration of the department and the board or commission shall perform any advisory or policy-making function authorized by statute. An appointment by the county executive under this subsection requires the confirmation of the board unless the board, by ordinance, elects to waive confirmation or unless the appointment is made under a civil service system competitive examination procedure established under s. 59.52 (8)
or ch. 63
. Any department head appointed by a county executive under this subsection may be removed at the pleasure of the county executive unless the department head is appointed under a civil service system competitive examination procedure established under s. 59.52 (8)
or ch. 63
Appoint the members of all boards and commissions where appointments are required and where the statutes provide that the appointments are made by the county board or by the chairperson of the county board. All appointments to boards and commissions by the county executive are subject to confirmation by the county board.
Administrative secretaries to county executive; staff.
The county executive may appoint administrative secretaries using hiring procedures which shall be exempt from county civil service competitive examination procedures and such additional staff assistants as the board provides.
Compensation of county executive, deputy, and staff assistants.
The board shall fix the compensation of the county executive, the county executive's administrative secretary and the county executive's staff assistants, provided that the salary of the county executive shall be established at least 90 days prior to any election held to fill the office.
Message to the board; submission of annual budget.
The county executive shall annually, and otherwise as may be necessary, communicate to the board the condition of the county, and shall recommend such matters to the board for its consideration as he or she considers expedient. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, he or she shall be responsible for the submission of the annual budget to the board and may exercise the power to veto any increases or decreases in the budget under sub. (6)
County executive to approve or veto resolutions or ordinances; proceedings on veto.
Every resolution adopted or ordinance enacted by the board shall, before it becomes effective, be presented to the county executive. If the county executive approves, the county executive shall sign it; if not, the county executive shall return it with his or her objections, which objections shall be entered at large upon the journal and the board shall proceed to reconsider the matter. Appropriations may be approved in whole or in part by the county executive and the part approved shall become law, and the part objected to shall be returned in the same manner as provided for in other resolutions or ordinances. If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of the members-elect of the board agree to adopt the resolution or enact the ordinance or the part of the resolution or ordinance objected to, it shall become effective on the date prescribed but not earlier than the date of passage following reconsideration. In all such cases, the votes of the members of the board shall be determined by ayes and nays and the names of the members voting for or against the resolution or ordinance or the part thereof objected to shall be entered on the journal. If any resolution or ordinance is not returned by the county executive to the board at its first meeting occurring not less than 6 days, Sundays excepted, after it has been presented to the county executive, it shall become effective unless the board has recessed or adjourned for a period in excess of 60 days, in which case it shall not be effective without the county executive's approval.
Removal from office; vacancy, how filled.
The county executive may be removed from office by the governor for cause under s. 17.16
. A vacancy in the office of county executive shall be filled temporarily, within 30 days of the date of the vacancy, by appointment by the chairperson of the board, subject to confirmation by the board, from among electors of the county. Within 7 days following the occurrence of the vacancy, the clerk shall order a special election to be held under s. 8.50
to fill the vacancy. If the vacancy occurs after October 31 but not later than 49 days before the day of the spring primary, the special election shall be held concurrently with the spring primary and election.
In the event of the inability of the county executive to serve because of mental or physical disease, the powers and duties of the office shall devolve upon the chairperson of the board until such time as the disability shall cease.
In the event that a vacancy in the office of county executive occurs, the chairperson of the board shall immediately succeed to the office and assume the duties and responsibilities thereof until the board has confirmed an appointment to the office under sub. (7)
History: 1975 c. 264
; 1977 c. 257
; 1979 c. 260
; 1981 c. 217
; 1981 c. 391
; 1983 a. 148
; 1983 a. 192
, 303 (2)
; 1983 a. 239
; 1985 a. 29
, 3200 (56)
, 3202 (56)
; 1985 a. 135
; 1985 a. 176
; 1989 a. 273
; 1991 a. 269
; 1995 a. 16
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. 1995 s. 59.17; 2013 a. 14
; 2015 a. 55
; 2017 a. 207
A county executive's partial-veto power is similar to the governor's power. 73 Atty. Gen. 92
Discussing the powers of an elected county executive. 77 Atty. Gen. 113
A county board may adopt an ordinance creating the office of county executive and make the ordinance contingent upon approval in a countywide referendum. The office of county executive is created at the time the results of the referendum become final. The first election for the office occurs at least 120 days after the creation becomes effective. The county executive takes office on the third Tuesday in April of the election year. 78 Atty. Gen. 227
The veto of an appropriation under sub. (5) does not restore the appropriation to its level in the county executive's proposed budget. 80 Atty. Gen. 214
Section 33.28 (2) (a) provides that the county representative upon a public inland lake protection and rehabilitation board is to be a person appointed by the county board. By operation of sub. (2) (c), the power of appointing the county representative to a public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district is therefore transferred from the county board to the county executive once the office of county executive is created, subject to confirmation by the board. OAG 2-09
A county board may require a county executive to clarify that he or she is not representing the position of the county when engaging in lobbying activities on behalf of a position that is not the position adopted by the county. A county board may require county department heads to submit reports to the county board, but it cannot require county department heads appointed and supervised by the county executive to report to the board in a supervisory sense. A county board is not authorized to demote, suspend, or discharge a department head or employee not appointed by the board unless that power is specifically conferred by statute. OAG 6-13
The Milwaukee County Board may require confirmation of the county executive's appointments to any position in the unclassified service that is a department head. The board may not require confirmation of the executive's or other administrators' appointments to positions in the unclassified service that are not department heads. OAG 7-13
A county executive has the authority to reduce a line item budget appropriation from one specific dollar figure to another through the use of his or her partial veto. Constitutional amendments limiting the governor's veto authority in article V, section 10 (1) (c), of the Wisconsin Constitution impose no corresponding limit upon the veto authority of the county executive under article IV, section 23a
, of the Wisconsin Constitution. OAG 6-14