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
The removal of the county auditor is subject to the specific civil service provisions established by ordinance or resolution of the county board under ss. 63.01 to 63.17 and is not governed by the more general removal provision contained in s. 17.10 (3). Rather than creating the separate office of county auditor pursuant under s. 59.47 (2), a county board could create a department of administration under s. 59.52 (1) (b) and assign administrative audit functions to that department under that statute. If the administrative function is under the jurisdiction of the county auditor the function may be assigned to the department of administration. A person in the department of administration who performs audit functions therefore need not be appointed using civil service procedures. OAG 6-08
Municipal competitive bidding statutes do not apply to projects undertaken by intergovernmental agreement or when the municipalities that will perform the work have made a determination under sub. (29) to do the work themselves with their own employees. OAG 5-09
The leasing of mineral rights referenced in sub. (6) (c) encompasses gravel rights. OAG 1-20
A sale or lease under sub. (6) (c) of property rights for adequate consideration generally would suffice for purposes of the constitutional public purpose doctrine. Absent some other barrier, the conveyance would not be void merely because the purchaser lacked a public purpose; rather, where there is adequate consideration, no public resources have been given away. OAG 1-20
Health and human services. 59.53(1)(1)
Surplus commodity plans.
The board may adopt and participate in any surplus commodity absorption plan in connection with furnishing relief to needy persons within any municipality in the county and appropriate money to carry out such plan.
(2) Emergency energy relief.
Regardless of whether a county operates a relief program under sub. (21)
, the board may appropriate money for making payments to individuals or providing grants to community action agencies and municipalities to assist persons and families in the purchase of emergency energy supplies.
(3) Community action and nonprofit agencies.
The board may appropriate funds for promoting and assisting any community action agency under s. 49.265
, and for making payments to a nonprofit organization, as defined in s. 23.197 (4) (a) 1.
, that has as a primary purpose providing assistance to individuals who are the victims of domestic violence and related crimes. The county may also appropriate money for making payments to such a nonprofit organization for its capital and operational expenses.
(4) Comprehensive health planning.
A county or combination of counties may engage in comprehensive health planning, and boards may appropriate county funds to an areawide agency for such planning, whether the organization to be utilized is a public agency or a private, nonprofit corporation.
(5) Child and spousal support; paternity program; medical support liability program. 59.53(5)(a)
The board shall contract with the department of children and families to implement and administer the child and spousal support and establishment of paternity and the medical support liability programs provided for by Title IV of the federal social security act, except that in a county with a population of 750,000 or more the county executive shall exercise all of this authority. The board may designate by board resolution any office, officer, board, department or agency, except the clerk of circuit court, as the county child support agency and, in a county with a population of 750,000 or more, the county executive shall administer the designated county child support agency. The board, county child support agency, or county executive of a county with a population of 750,000 or more shall implement and administer the programs in accordance with the contract with the department of children and families. The attorneys responsible for support enforcement under sub. (6) (a)
, circuit court commissioners and all other county officials shall cooperate with the county and the department of children and families as necessary to provide the services required under the programs. The county shall charge the fee established by the department of children and families under s. 49.22
for services provided under this paragraph to persons not receiving benefits under s. 49.148
or assistance under s. 48.645
, or 49.472
The county child support agency under par. (a)
shall electronically enter into the statewide data system related to child and spousal support payments that is operated by the department of children and families the terms of any order made or judgment granted in the circuit court of the county requiring payments under s. 948.22 (7)
or ch. 767
that are directed under s. 767.57 (1)
to be paid to the department of children and families or its designee. The county child support agency shall enter the terms of any such order or judgment within the time required by federal law and shall enter revisions ordered by the court to any order or judgment the terms of which are maintained on the data system.
See also ch. DCF 102
and s. DHS 108.03
, Wis. adm. code.
(6) Attorneys; support enforcement responsibility. 59.53(6)(a)1.1.
Except as provided in subd. 2.
and in a county with a population of 750,000 or more, each board shall employ or contract with attorneys to provide support enforcement. In a county with a population of 750,000 or more, the county executive shall hire or contract with attorneys to provide support enforcement under this subdivision. Section 59.42 (1)
, (2) (a)
does not preclude a board from assigning these support enforcement duties to any attorney employed by the county.
If on June 1, 1989, a county has 1.0 or more full-time equivalent attorney positions that have primary responsibility for handling cases described in par. (b)
, as determined by the district attorney of the prosecutorial unit, the county shall establish and maintain a support enforcement office consisting of support enforcement attorneys and office personnel. In counties having a population of less than 750,000, a county budget under s. 65.90
shall list the proposed appropriation under s. 65.90 (2)
for the support enforcement office separate from any other office, department or activity. In counties having a population of 750,000 or more, a county budget shall treat a support enforcement office as a department, as defined in s. 59.60 (2) (as)
, separate from all other departments, and administered by the county executive. If a county ceases to employ 1.0 or more full-time equivalent attorney positions in the office, the county may provide support enforcement under subd. 1.
If the place of trial is changed to another county in any action or proceeding under par. (b)
, an attorney responsible for support enforcement under par. (a)
shall continue to prosecute or defend the action or proceeding in the other county.
(7) Initiative to provide coordinated services.
Except in Milwaukee County, the board may establish an initiative to provide coordinated services under s. 46.56
(8) Rehabilitation facilities.
The board may establish and maintain rehabilitation facilities in any part of the county under the jurisdiction of the sheriff as an extension of the jail, or separate from the jail under jurisdiction of a superintendent, to provide any person sentenced to the county jail with a program of rehabilitation for such part of the person's sentence or commitment as the court determines will be of rehabilitative value to the prisoner. Rehabilitation facilities may be located outside of the county under a cooperative agreement under s. 302.44
(8m) Secured residential care center for children and youth.
The board may establish, or contract with a child welfare agency to establish, a secured residential care center for children and youth, on its own or jointly with one or more counties, under ss. 46.20 (1m)
, 59.52 (7)
, and 938.22 (1) (a)
, or may contract with another county to place juveniles in that county's secured residential care center for children and youth. If a board contracts with another county to place a juvenile at that county's secured residential care center for children and youth, that secured residential care center for children and youth shall be the county secured residential care center for children and youth of the placing county with respect to the placed juvenile.
(9) Group homes.
The board may own or operate group homes, as defined in s. 48.02 (7)
(11) Senior citizen programs; appropriation; commission on aging.
The board may:
Appropriate funds to promote and assist county commissions on aging and senior citizens clubs and organizations within the county in their organization and activities. A county may cooperate with any private agency or group in such work.
Appropriate money to defray the expenses incurred by private organizations that provide homemaking services to elderly and handicapped persons within the county if the services will enable the persons to remain self-sufficient and to live independently or with relatives.
(12) Guardian of or conservator for county hospital patients.
In any county having a population of 100,000 or more, the board may authorize the county as a body corporate to act as guardian or conservator of the respective estates of patients in its county hospital or mental hospital, and also as guardians or conservators of the respective estates of residents of its county home or infirmary.
(13) Payments for abortions and abortion-related activity restricted. 59.53(13)(a)
No county, or agency or subdivision of the county, may authorize funds for or pay to a physician or surgeon or a hospital, clinic or other medical facility for the performance of an abortion except those permitted under and which are performed in accordance with s. 20.927
No county or agency or subdivision of a county may authorize payment of funds for a grant, subsidy or other funding involving a pregnancy program, project or service if s. 20.9275 (2)
applies to the pregnancy program, project or service.
(14) Victims and witnesses of crimes.
The board may appropriate money for the implementation and operation of a program under s. 950.06
(15) Nursing associations.
The board may appropriate money toward the support of organized and bona fide nursing associations in the county, such associations to have at least one qualified nurse.
In counties having a population of 30,000 or more the board may erect, establish and maintain isolation hospitals or places for the care and treatment of all persons afflicted with infectious, contagious and communicable diseases, requiring isolation and quarantine under the laws of the state, who are inmates of the charitable, penal, correctional and other institutions of said county or who are required to be cared for and treated at the expense of said county. The board may also provide for the care and treatment therein of all persons so afflicted, who are required to be cared for by the various municipalities in said counties, under such terms, conditions, rules and regulations, as to apportionment of cost of erection of such buildings and places and the expense of care and treatment of such persons afflicted, as may be agreed upon between the county board and the common council of such cities and the boards of such villages and towns, and each such council or board is hereby vested with power and authority to enter into such contracts and to appropriate such funds as may be necessary to carry into execution all contracts so made.
All isolation hospitals and other places, when erected or established in counties having a county board of administration, shall be conducted under the control and management of the board of administration in the same manner and to the same extent as other institutions under the control of the board of administration, and in other counties the isolation hospitals and other places shall be conducted under the control and management of the county board. Any resident of this state who is not indigent may be received into, treated and cared for in an isolation hospital or other place upon the terms and conditions and at the rate or pay established and fixed by the board having charge of the isolation hospital or other place; provided, however, that indigent and destitute sick persons shall be cared for and have preference of admission to such hospitals and places.
A board may appropriate an amount not to exceed $1,000 in any one year for the purpose of assisting a county association of the citizens of the county, or an association composed of the citizens of 2 or more counties of which the citizens of the county are members, organized solely for the purpose of inducing immigration to the state.
The disbursement of an appropriation made under this subsection shall be under the supervision of the chairperson of the board, the clerk and the treasurer, and in all cases after such an appropriation has been made, there shall be filed with the clerk a sworn statement by the treasurer of the immigration society for whose benefit the appropriation was made, showing that the amount of the appropriation has been used by the association for the purpose of inducing immigration to the county making the appropriation and to adjoining counties, and itemized bills for the expenditure of a sum equal to the appropriation duly verified shall accompany the statement of the treasurer. Upon the approval of the statement and the itemized bills, by the county officers above named, the money so appropriated shall be paid by the proper officers of the county making the same into the treasury of the immigration association.
The county board may create an immigration board consisting of 3 to 5 members, one of whom shall be the county surveyor. The immigration board shall meet, and its members shall receive such compensation and expenses and shall serve for the terms that the county board determines.
The immigration board shall aid in promoting settlement of vacant agricultural lands in the county, and shall protect prospective settlers from unfair practices.
The county board may in any year appropriate for the carrying out of the work of the immigration board a sum not to exceed $5,000.
(19) Joint operation of health-related service.
The board may authorize the trustees of county hospitals, together with a private or public organization or affiliation, to organize, establish and participate in the governance and operation of an entity to operate, wholly or in part, any health-related service; to participate in the financing of the entity; and to provide administrative and financial services or resources for its operation on terms prescribed by the board.
(20) Work centers.
The board may establish and operate a work center licensed under s. 104.07
to provide employment for severely handicapped individuals, except that in a county with a population of 750,000 or more, the county executive shall be in charge of the operation of the work center.
(21) Operation of relief programs.
The board may establish and operate a program of relief for a specific class or classes of persons residing in that county, except that in a county with a population of 750,000 or more, the county executive shall be in charge of the operation of the program of relief. The county may set such eligibility criteria to obtain relief, and may provide such services, commodities or money as relief, as the county determines to be reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. The program may include work components. The county may enact any ordinances necessary or useful to the operation of a relief program under this subsection. Counties may use vehicle registration information from the department of transportation in determining eligibility for relief programs under this subsection.
shall apply to counties, except as otherwise provided in this subsection, or as clearly indicated otherwise by the context.
The powers and duties conferred and imposed by ss. 66.1201
upon mayors and councils are conferred upon boards, and the powers and duties of specified city officials under ss. 66.1201
are conferred upon county officials performing duties similar to the duties of such specified city officials.
The area of operation of a housing authority created in and for a county is all of the county for which it is created, but a county housing authority may not undertake any housing project within the boundaries of any municipality unless a resolution has been adopted by the governing body of the municipality, and by any housing authority which has been created in that municipality, declaring that there is need for the county housing authority to exercise its powers within that municipality.
County housing authorities created under this subsection are urged to utilize those provisions of the federal housing laws whereby private developers may acquire land, build housing projects according to federal standards and turn them over to such housing authorities for due consideration.
(23) Housing authorities, counties having only one town. 59.53(23)(a)(a)
The provisions of ss. 66.1201
shall apply to any county having only one town, except as otherwise provided in this subsection or clearly indicated otherwise by the context, and any housing authority established under this subsection may participate in any state grants-in-aid for housing in the same manner as city housing authorities created under ss. 66.1201
The powers and duties conferred and imposed by ss. 66.1201
upon mayors and councils are conferred upon boards, and the powers and duties of specified city officials under those sections are conferred upon county officials performing duties similar to the duties of the specified city officials.
Eligible low-income residents of the county who are 62 years of age or older may be given first preference in the selection of tenants for housing provided under the authority of this subsection. The housing may, insofar as possible, be designed specifically for the foregoing class of residents.
The area of operation of a housing authority created in and for a county under this subsection is all of the county for which it is created.
(24) Government relations.
In any county with a population of 750,000 or more, if the county has an office of intergovernmental relations or a department or subunit of a department that provides lobbying services for the county, that office, department, or subunit shall employ one individual who is responsible for representing the interests of, and reports to, the county executive and one individual who is responsible for representing the interests of, and reports to, the county board.
(25) Milwaukee County mental health.
The Milwaukee County board has no jurisdiction and may not take any actions, including under ss. 59.52 (6)
, and 66.0607 (2)
, related to mental health functions, programs, and services.
History: 1995 a. 201
; 1995 a. 225
; 1995 a. 279
; 1995 a. 289
; 1995 a. 404
; 1997 a. 3
; 1999 a. 150
; 2001 a. 61
; 2003 a. 33
; 2005 a. 443
; 2007 a. 20
; 2009 a. 75
; 2013 a. 14
; 2017 a. 185
; 2019 a. 42
A county cannot use its funds and employees to improve, reconstruct, or repair homes of private citizens who do not qualify for aid under ch. 49 without utilizing a county housing authority. 64 Atty. Gen. 106.
A county may not, in a manner consistent with federal and state statutes and regulations prohibiting supplementation, contractually obligate itself to pay visiting nurse association funds in addition to those received by such a home health care provider through the Medicaid program. 77 Atty. Gen. 287
A county board's powers with respect to health and human services are enumerated in this section, which does not authorize appropriations to private nonprofit food pantries. County boards may establish and operate programs to serve residents of the county who need assistance in securing adequate food, but the statute does not grant authority to make appropriations to nonprofits to perform this task. Because the statute specifically addresses a county board's authority in this area without granting the authority to make appropriations to nonprofits, county boards do not have the authority, either express or implied, to make such appropriations. OAG 1-17
The legislature has given city councils, town boards that adopt a resolution to exercise the powers of village board, and village boards the police power to legislate for the purposes of the health, safety, and welfare of the public. County boards do not have a similarly broad grant of police power. Instead, county boards have the power to appropriate money to carry into effect any of the board's powers and duties specifically enumerated in ch. 59. OAG 1-17
Veterans affairs. 59.535(1)(1)
Certifications and filings for veterans; no charge. 59.535(1)(b)
No fee shall be charged by any register of deeds, clerk of circuit court or any other public officer, either state, county or local, having custody of statistical records, for the making and certifying of copies, or examining proofs of any public record or instrument, required for or in connection with, the filing of any claim or application with the U.S. department of veterans affairs or any other federal agency, or to any state agency, or to the regularly established agency of any state, for benefits under federal or state laws, by a veteran or by any dependent of a veteran, when certified proof is required in connection with any claim or application for benefits, under federal or state laws, to which such veteran, or a dependent of a veteran, either living or dead, may be required to file, except, that in the counties where the register of deeds or clerk of circuit court is under the fee system and not a fixed salary, the usual fee for such service shall be paid by the county to the proper officer. The provisions of this subsection shall supersede any provision of law in conflict therewith.
The board may furnish upon the petition of 5 residents of any municipality in their county an appropriate metal marker for the grave of each soldier, sailor or marine who served with honor in the U.S. armed forces, buried within the municipality.
The petitioners shall state in the petition the names of the soldiers, sailors or marines buried in the municipality.
(3) War records.
The board may appropriate money for the collection, publication or distribution of war records.
(4) Service officer and commission.
The board may appropriate funds for the execution of the duties of the county veterans service officer and the county veterans service commission.
History: 1995 a. 201
; 2005 a. 22
Public protection and safety. 59.54(1)(1)
The board may purchase, equip, operate and maintain ambulances and contract for ambulance service with one or more providers for conveyance of the sick or injured and make reasonable charges for the use thereof.
(2) Rescue equipment.
The board may appropriate money for the purchase of boats and other equipment necessary for the rescue of human beings and the recovery of human bodies from waters of which the county has jurisdiction under s. 2.04
and charge a reasonable fee for the use of such boats and other equipment.
(3) Radio service for fire protection.
The board may appropriate money for the purpose of providing radio service for fire protection in the county, in the manner prescribed by the board.
(4) Rural naming or numbering system.
The board may establish a rural naming or numbering system in towns for the purpose of aiding in fire protection, emergency services, and civil defense, and appropriate and expend money therefor, under which:
Each rural road, home, business, farm or other establishment, may be assigned a name or number.
The names or numbers may be displayed on uniform signs posted on rural roads and intersections, and at each home, business, farm or other establishment.
(4m) Rural naming or numbering system; town cooperation.
The rural naming or numbering system under sub. (4)
may be carried out in cooperation with any town or towns in the county.
(5) Emergency services for hearing and speech impaired persons.
In any county having a population of 200,000 or more the board shall install in the sheriff's department a teletypewriter which shall be available to receive calls from hearing and speech impaired persons seeking emergency services. In cities having a population of 30,000 or more which are not contained in a county having a population of 200,000 or more, the city shall install a teletypewriter for the purposes of this subsection in either the police or fire department. If 2 or more cities having a population of 30,000 or more are contained in one county, the board shall install the teletypewriter in the sheriff's department and no teletypewriter shall be required in the cities.
(6) Peace and order.
The board may enact and enforce ordinances to preserve the public peace and good order within the county including, but not limited by enumeration, ordinances prohibiting conduct that is the same as or similar to conduct that is prohibited by ss. 947.01 (1)
, and provide a forfeiture for a violation of the ordinances.
(7) Police powers over certain U.S. lands and structures.
In counties in which the United States has built a structure extending into a lake or river, the board may by ordinance regulate the use of such a structure by the public consistent with reasonable safety requirements, but nothing contained in the ordinance shall permit any interference with the operations of the United States, its agents, employees or representatives in connection with the structure. The ordinance may also provide that any person who violates the ordinance shall forfeit to the county an amount not to exceed $100 for each offense, plus costs, and in default of payment shall be imprisoned for not more than 30 days. Arrests for violation of the ordinance may be made by the sheriff or by any peace officer of the municipality wherein the structure is located.
(8) Local emergency planning committees. 59.54(8)(a)(a)
The board shall do all of the following:
Control all expenditures by the committee that is created under this paragraph.