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
The powers of an elected county executive are discussed. 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 3rd 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 Art. V, s. 10 (1) (c) impose no corresponding limit upon the veto authority of the county executive under Art. IV, s. 23a. OAG 6-14
County administrator. 59.18(1)(1)
Counties having a population of less than 750,000 may by resolution of the board or by petition and referendum create the office of county administrator. The county administrator shall be appointed by majority vote of the board. Such petition and election shall follow the procedure provided in s. 9.20 (1)
. If any member of the board is appointed as county administrator, his or her status as a member of the board is thereby terminated, except that in the case of a vacancy in the office of county administrator by reason of removal, resignation or other cause, the board may appoint any member of the board as acting county administrator to serve for a period of 15 days while the board is considering the selection of a county administrator.
Duties and powers.
The county administrator shall be the chief administrative officer of the county. The county administrator 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 administrator or any other person supervised by the county administrator. The duties and powers of the county administrator 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 boards or commissions, or in other elected officers.
Appoint and supervise the heads of all departments of the county except those elected by the people and except where the statutes provide that the appointment shall be made by elected officers; but the county administrator shall also appoint and supervise all department heads where the law provides that the appointment shall be made by a board or commission, by the chairperson of the county board or by the county board. 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. Any appointment by the county administrator under this paragraph requires the confirmation of the county 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 administrator under this paragraph may be removed at the pleasure of the county administrator 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 the statutes provide that such appointment shall be made by the county board or by the chairperson of the county board. All appointments to boards and commissions by the county administrator shall be subject to the confirmation of the county board.
Administrative secretary to county administrator; staff.
The county administrator may appoint an administrative secretary, and additional staff assistants, as necessary.
Compensation of county administrator and staff.
The board shall fix the compensation of the county administrator, the county administrator's administrative secretary and the county administrator's staff assistants.
Message to the board; submission of annual budget.
The county administrator shall annually, and otherwise as necessary, communicate to the board the condition of the county, and recommend such matters to the board for its consideration as the county administrator considers expedient. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, the county administrator shall be responsible for the submission of the annual budget to the board.
Qualifications for appointment.
The county administrator shall be appointed solely on merit. In appointing the county administrator, the board shall give due regard to training, experience, administrative ability and general qualifications and fitness for performing the duties of the office, and no person shall be eligible to the office of county administrator, who is not by training, experience, ability and efficiency qualified and generally fit to perform the duties of such office. No weight or consideration shall be given by the board to residence, to nationality, or to political or religious affiliations.
The board may remove the county administrator at any time that the county administrator's conduct of the county administration becomes unsatisfactory, and engage a successor. The action of the board in removing the county administrator shall be final.
Vacancy, how filled.
A vacancy in the office of the county administrator by reason of removal, resignation or other cause, shall be filled by appointment by majority vote of the board.
A county board can abolish the office of county administrator by majority vote. 61 Atty. Gen. 322.
Sub. (2) (b) transfers the authority to supervise the administration of county departments from boards and commissions to department heads appointed by the county administrator. Sub. (2) therefore entirely negates s. 59.70 (2) insofar as it provides that the board may “employ" a system manager. In a county with a county administrator, the solid waste management board is purely an advisory body to the county administrator and to the county board and a policy-making body for the solid waste management department as a whole. OAG 1-12
In any county which has not created the office of county executive or county administrator, the board shall designate, no later than January 1, 1987, an elected or appointed official to serve as administrative coordinator of the county. The administrative coordinator shall be responsible for coordinating all administrative and management functions of the county government not otherwise vested by law in boards or commissions, or in other elected officers.
History: 1985 a. 29
; 1995 a. 201
; Stats. s. 59.19.
A sitting member of a county board must resign the office of supervisor before being appointed to the permanent position of county administrative coordinator under this section. OAG 1-11
County offices and officers. 59.20(1)(1)
Eligibility for county office.
No person may file nomination papers as a candidate for, have his or her name placed on a ballot for election to, or hold a county elective office who is not an elector of the county. No person may file nomination papers as a candidate for, have his or her name placed on a ballot for election to, or hold the office of county supervisor who is not an elector of the supervisory district from which he or she is chosen.
Beginning in 2008 and quadrennially thereafter, a register of deeds, county clerk, and county treasurer shall be chosen at the general election by the electors of each county for the term of 4 years. Except as provided in this paragraph, beginning in 2008 and quadrennially thereafter, a surveyor shall be chosen at the general election by the electors of each county in which the office of surveyor is filled by election, for the term of 4 years. No surveyor shall be elected in counties having a population of 750,000 or more. The regular term of office of each register of deeds, county clerk, county treasurer, and county surveyor shall commence on the first Monday of January next succeeding his or her election and shall continue 4 years and until his or her successor qualifies.
Beginning in 2012 and quadrennially thereafter, a comptroller shall be chosen at the spring election by the electors of each county having a population of 750,000 or more for the term of 4 years. The regular term of office of each comptroller shall commence on the 3rd Tuesday in April next succeeding his or her election and shall continue 4 years and until his or her successor qualifies.
Beginning in 2006 and quadrennially thereafter, a sheriff shall be chosen at the general election by the electors of each county for the term of 4 years. Except as provided in this paragraph, beginning in 2006 and quadrennially thereafter, a coroner shall be chosen at the general election by the electors of each county in which there is a coroner, for the term of 4 years. No coroner shall be elected in counties having a population of 750,000 or more or in counties in which a medical examiner system is instituted. The regular term of office of each sheriff and coroner shall commence on the first Monday in January next succeeding his or her election and shall continue 4 years and until his or her successor qualifies.
Beginning in 2006 and quadrennially thereafter, a clerk of circuit court shall be chosen at the general election for the term of 4 years by the electors of each county, subject to removal as provided by law. The regular term of office of each clerk of circuit court shall commence on the first Monday of January next succeeding his or her election and shall continue 4 years and until his or her successor qualifies.
In counties that elect a surveyor, the surveyor shall be a professional land surveyor. In lieu of electing a surveyor in any county having a population of less than 750,000, the board may, by resolution, designate that the duties under ss. 59.45 (1)
and 59.74 (2)
be performed by any professional land surveyor employed by the county. Any surveyor employed by a county having a population of 750,000 or more shall be a professional land surveyor.
Except as provided in par. (b)
, in any county containing one town only, the county board may, by resolution, designate any county office a part-time position, combine 2 or more county offices, and, if concurred in by the town board, combine the offices of county clerk and town clerk and any other county and town offices, provided that the offices combined are not incompatible and the combination is not expressly forbidden by law. If the town board so concurs, the election may be for the combined office and no separate election for the town office shall be held until after the county board has by resolution decided to abandon the combination and the town board has concurred by resolution.
Offices where kept; when open. 59.20(3)(a)
Every sheriff, clerk of the circuit court, register of deeds, treasurer, comptroller, register of probate, clerk, and county surveyor shall keep his or her office at the county seat in the offices provided by the county or by special provision of law; or if there is none, then at such place as the board directs. The board may also require any elective or appointive county official to keep his or her office at the county seat in an office to be provided by the county. All such officers shall keep their offices open during the usual business hours of any day except Sunday, as the board directs. With proper care, the officers shall open to the examination of any person all books and papers required to be kept in his or her office and permit any person so examining to take notes and copies of such books, records, papers, or minutes therefrom except as authorized in par. (c)
and ss. 19.36 (10)
and 19.59 (3) (d)
or under ch. 69
If any officer described in par. (a)
neglects or refuses to comply with any of the provisions of this subsection, the officer shall forfeit $5 for each day that the noncompliance continues. Actions for the collection of a forfeiture under this paragraph may be brought upon the complaint of the district attorney of the proper county or of any party aggrieved by the officer's refusal or neglect.
Any board may, by ordinance, provide that the cutoff reception time for the filing and recording of documents shall be advanced by one hour in any official business day during which time the register of deeds office is open to the public, in order to complete the processing, recording, and indexing to conform to the day of reception. Any register of deeds may provide in his or her notice under s. 19.34 (1)
that requests for inspection or copying of the records of his or her office may be made only during a specified period of not less than 35 hours per week. For all other purposes, the register of deeds office shall remain open to the public during usual business hours.
Any register of deeds who in good faith makes an erroneous determination as to the accessibility of a portion of a record, to members of the public under s. 19.36 (6)
, is not subject to any penalty for denial of access to the record under s. 19.37 (4)
NOTE: 2003 Wis. Act 47
, which affects this section, contains extensive explanatory notes.
Section 59.14 [now sub. (3)] is a legislative declaration granting those persons who come under its coverage an absolute right of inspection subject only to reasonable administrative regulations. State ex rel. Bilder v. Town of Delavan, 112 Wis. 2d 539
, 334 N.W.2d 252
A newspaper had the right to intervene to protect its right to examine sealed court files. State ex rel. Bilder v. Town of Delavan, 112 Wis. 2d 539
, 334 N.W.2d 252
Courts must apply the open records balancing test to questions involving disclosure of court records. Under the test, the party seeking nondisclosure must show that public interests favoring secrecy outweigh those favoring disclosure. C.L. v. Edson, 140 Wis. 2d 168
, 409 N.W.2d 417
(Ct. App. 1987).
The appointment of a county surveyor under this section is constitutional. Ripley v. Brown, 143 Wis. 2d 686
, 422 N.W.2d 608
“Books and papers required to be kept" are not all those that the custodian is obliged merely to retain or preserve; rather they are only those that the custodian is obliged to maintain or engender. The requester has the burden of showing the authority requiring that the record be maintained or engendered. State ex rel. Schultz v. Bruendl, 168 Wis. 2d 101
, 483 N.W.2d 238
(Ct. App. 1992).
To overcome the legislatively mandated policy favoring open records and to persuade the circuit court to exercise its inherent authority, the party seeking to close court records bears the burden of demonstrating, with particularity, that the administration of justice requires that the records be closed. Once documents are filed in the court they become a judicial record subject to the access accorded such records. Even the possibility that the parties may attempt to rescind a settlement agreement if the record is unsealed does not outweigh the public's right to inspect public documents. There are no requirements of a showing of harm to the public or that the inquiry must have indicia of public concern. Krier v. EOG Environmental, Inc., 2005 WI App 256
, 288 Wis. 2d 623
, 707 N.W.2d 915
After a transcript of a court proceedings is filed with the clerk of court, any person may examine or copy the transcript. 68 Atty. Gen. 313.
A sheriff's criminal investigation files are not covered by a blanket exemption from the public records law. Denial of access may be justified on a case-by-case basis. 77 Atty. Gen. 42
Official oaths and bonds. 59.21(1)(1)
Each county officer named in this chapter, except county supervisors, shall execute and file an official bond and take and file the official oath within 20 days after receiving official notice of election or appointment, or if not officially notified, within 20 days after the commencement of the term for which the officer is elected or appointed, or the board may provide a schedule or blanket bond that includes any or all of these officials, except county supervisors, and a blanket bond may also include members of a county veterans service commission under s. 45.81 (1)
and a county veterans service officer under s. 45.81 (2)
. Every county supervisor shall take and file the official oath within 20 days after receiving official notice of election or appointment, or if not officially notified, within 20 days after the commencement of the term for which he or she is elected or appointed. Every deputy appointed by any such officer shall take and file the official oath and if the deputy neglects to do so, he or she shall forfeit $100. If the board does not provide a schedule or blanket bond, the official bonds shall be in sums and with sureties, as follows:
Treasurer, if the bond is furnished by individual sureties, not less than the amount nor exceeding twice the amount of all taxes directed by the board to be levied therein and to be received by the treasurer during the ensuing year, with 3 or more sureties; or, if the bond is furnished by a surety company in an amount not less than 10 percent of all taxes directed by the board to be levied therein, and to be received by the treasurer during the ensuing year, or $500,000, whichever is smaller.
Sheriff, not less than $5,000 nor more than $25,000, with not less than 3 sureties.
Coroner, not less than $500 nor more than $10,000, with not less than 2 sureties.
Clerk of the circuit court, not less than $5,000, with 2 or more sureties.
Register of deeds, in counties containing less than 150,000 population, $3,000, with 2 or more sureties. In counties containing 150,000 or more population, not less than $3,000, with 2 or more sureties, conditioned for the accuracy of the register's work and the faithful, correct and impartial performance of the register's duties, and in addition thereto a bond of not less than $10,000, with 2 or more sureties, conditioned for the faithful accounting for and paying over to the treasurer all moneys which may come into the register's hands as register of deeds, or into the hands of the register's deputy or assistants.
County abstractor, $5,000, with 2 or more sureties.
Comptroller, not less than $5,000 nor more than $20,000 with not less than 3 sureties.
Each official bond described in sub. (1)
shall be in a sum fixed by law; or if not fixed by law, in a sum fixed by resolution of the board, within the limitations prescribed by law, if any, at the annual meeting in November prior to the commencement of the term of office of the particular officer. Both the bond and the sufficiency of the sureties thereto shall be approved by a committee consisting of the chairperson and not less than 2 other members of the board who shall report in writing their action on all bonds.
Each bond described in sub. (1)
shall be guaranteed by the number of personal sureties prescribed by law, or if not prescribed, by the number fixed by the board within the limitations, if any, prescribed by law, or by a surety company as provided by s. 632.17 (2)
. In the case of the clerk, treasurer and county abstractor the board may by resolution require them to furnish bonds guaranteed by surety companies and direct that the premiums be paid as provided in s. 19.01 (8)
If it considers the bond of any officer insufficient, the board may by resolution require the officer to furnish additional bond in a sum to be named in the resolution, not exceeding $10,000 for the register of deeds of any county with a population of less than 150,000, and not exceeding the maximum sum, if any, fixed by law for additional bonds for other officers.
See s. 59.38 (3)
for provision for a bond by the medical examiner.
Compensation, fees, salaries and traveling expenses of officials and employees. 59.22(1)(a)1.1.
The board shall, before the earliest time for filing nomination papers for any elective office to be voted on in the county, other than supervisors and circuit judges, which officer is paid in whole or part from the county treasury, establish the total annual compensation for services to be paid to the officer exclusive of reimbursements for expenses out-of-pocket provided for in sub. (3)
. Except as provided in subd. 2.
, the annual compensation may be established by resolution or ordinance, on a basis of straight salary, fees, or part salary and part fees, and if the compensation established is a salary, or part salary and part fees, it shall be in lieu of all fees, including per diem and other forms of compensation for services rendered, except those specifically reserved to the officer in the resolution or ordinance. The compensation established shall not be increased nor diminished during the officer's term and shall remain for ensuing terms unless changed by the board. Court fees shall not be used for compensation for county officers.
The board shall establish the annual compensation of the sheriff as straight salary. No portion of that salary may include or be based on retention of fees by the sheriff. No portion of that salary may be based on providing food to prisoners under s. 302.37 (1)
. This subdivision does not prohibit the reimbursement of a sheriff for actual and necessary expenses.
Any officer authorized or required to collect fees appertaining to his or her office shall keep a complete record of all fees received in the form prescribed by the board and shall file a record of the total annual receipts in the clerk's office within 20 days of the close of the calendar year or at such other times as the board requires. Any officer on a salary basis or part fees and part salary shall collect all fees authorized by law appertaining to his or her office and shall remit all fees not specifically reserved to the officer by enumeration in the compensation established by the board under par. (a)
to the treasurer at the end of each month unless a shorter period for remittance is otherwise provided.
Appointive officials; deputy officers; and employees. 59.22(2)(a)(a)
Except for elective offices included under sub. (1)
, supervisors and circuit judges, and subject to s. 59.794 (3)
, the board has the powers set forth in this subsection, sub. (3)
and s. 59.03 (1)
as to any office, department, board, commission, committee, position or employee in county service created under any statute, the salary or compensation for which is paid in whole or in part by the county, and the jurisdiction and duties of which lie within the county or any portion thereof and the powers conferred by this section shall be in addition to all other grants of power and shall be limited only by express language.
Except as provided in subd. 2.
and par. (d)
, the board may do any of the following:
Provide, fix or change the salary or compensation of any office, board, commission, committee, position, employee or deputies to elective officers that is subject to sub. (1)
without regard to the tenure of the incumbent.
Establish the number of employees in any department or office including deputies to elective officers.
Establish regulations of employment for any person paid from the county treasury.
No action of the board may be contrary to or in derogation of the rules of the department of children and families under s. 49.78 (4)
relating to employees administering old-age assistance, aid to families with dependent children, aid to the blind, or aid to totally and permanently disabled persons or ss. 63.01
The board or any board, commission, committee or agency to which the board or statutes has delegated the authority to manage and control any institution or department of the county government may contract for the services of employees, setting up the hours, wages, duties and terms of employment for periods not to exceed 2 years.
The board may provide and appropriate money for an employee awards program to encourage and to reward unusual and meritorious suggestions and accomplishments by county employees.
Reimbursement for expense.
The board may provide for reimbursement to any elective officer, deputy officer, appointive officer or employee for any out-of-pocket expense incurred in the discharge of that person's duty in addition to that person's salary or compensation, including without limitation because of enumeration, traveling expenses, tuition costs incurred in attending courses of instruction clearly related to that person's employment, and the board may establish standard allowances for mileage, room and meals, the purposes for which allowances may be made, and determine the reasonableness and necessity for such reimbursements, and also establish in advance a fair rate of compensation to be paid to the sheriff for the board and care of prisoners in the county jail at county expense. Any reimbursement paid under this subsection to an officer or employee of a county with a population of 750,000 or more is subject to the budget limitation described in s. 59.60 (7e)
Commission on aging.
The board may provide for the payment of expenses and a per diem to persons appointed to a county commission on aging under s. 59.53 (11)
In the event of conflict between this section and any other statute, this section to the extent of the conflict shall prevail.
Sub. (1) (a) 1.'s prohibition of increasing or diminishing certain elected county officials' compensation during their terms of office does not preclude adjustments to fringe benefits. The statute expressly protects only salaries and fees. Cramer v. Eau Claire County, 2013 WI App 67
, 348 Wis. 2d 154
, 833 N.W.2d 172