NOTE: 2003 Wis. Act 214
, which affected this section, contains extensive explanatory notes.
The terms “authorize" and “direct" in sub. (2) are not used interchangeably. A town meeting that “authorize(s)" an act gives the town board permission to do the act within its discretion, but if it “direct(s)" that an act be done, the action is mandatory. Graziano v. Town of Long Lake, 191 Wis. 2d 813
, 530 N.W.2d 55
(Ct. App. 1995).
Section 60.55 does not create an exception to the grant of power to the town meeting to authorize land purchases or construction by the town board. If a town board chooses to meet the requirements of s. 60.55 to provide fire protection by providing housing for fire protection services and also chooses to purchase land and construct that housing, then the town board must proceed with the authorization of the town meeting under sub. (2) (e) and (f) to purchase the land and construct the building. Town of Clayton v. Cardinal Construction Co., 2009 WI App 54
, 317 Wis. 2d 424
, 767 N.W.2d 605
A town board exercising village powers under s. 60.22 (3) is not entitled to purchase land and contract for construction when doing so would conflict with statutes relating to towns and town boards. The village board power to acquire land and construct buildings under s. 61.34 (3) is in direct conflict with sub. (2) (e) and (f), which relates to towns and town boards and which confers that power of authorization on the town meeting. Town of Clayton v. Cardinal Construction Co., 2009 WI App 54
, 317 Wis. 2d 424
, 767 N.W.2d 605
Annual town meeting. 60.11(1)(1)
Each town shall hold an annual town meeting, as provided in this section.
Except as provided in par. (b)
, the annual town meeting shall be held on the 3rd Tuesday of April.
The annual town meeting may set a date different than provided under par. (a)
for the next annual town meeting if the date is within 10 days after the 3rd Tuesday of April.
The town board or, if the town board is unable to promptly meet, the town chair may postpone the annual town meeting to a date that is not during the period beginning on the first day of the public health emergency declared on March 12, 2020, by executive order 72, and ending 60 days after the termination of that order.
The annual town meeting may be held in the town or in any other town, village, or city in the same county or in an adjoining county.
The annual town meeting shall be held at the location of the last annual town meeting unless the location is changed by the town board. If the town board changes the location, it shall publish a class 2 notice under ch. 985
stating the location of the meeting, not more than 20 nor less than 15 days before the date of the meeting.
The annual town meeting may be recessed to a time and date certain if the resumed meeting is held within 30 days after the date of the meeting originally scheduled under sub. (2)
No public notice of an annual town meeting is required if held as provided under sub. (2) (a)
. If held as provided under sub. (2) (b)
, notice of the time and date of the meeting shall be given under s. 60.12 (3)
An annual town meeting may transact any business over which a town meeting has jurisdiction.
An annual town meeting may require the clerk of the town meeting to keep a poll list with the name and address of every elector voting at the meeting. If an elector of the town obtains a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
and presents an identification card issued under s. 6.47 (3)
, the clerk shall record the identification serial number of the elector in lieu of the elector's address.
Special town meetings. 60.12(1)(1)
Who may convene.
A special town meeting may be convened if:
A written request, signed by a number of electors equal to not less than 10 percent of the votes cast in the town for governor at the last general election, is filed with the town clerk.
Time, date and purpose to be stated.
If a special town meeting is requested or called under sub. (1)
, the time, date and purpose of the meeting shall be stated in the request or as part of the call.
The town clerk shall, not more than 20 nor less than 15 days before the date of a special town meeting, publish a class 2 notice of the meeting under ch. 985
. The notice shall state the purpose, date, time and location of the meeting. If notice is posted, the same time and content requirements apply.
A special town meeting may be held in the town or in any other town, village, or city in the same county or in an adjoining county.
A special town meeting shall be held where the preceding annual town meeting was held, unless the location is changed by the town board.
A special town meeting may be recessed to a time and date certain if the resumed meeting is held within 30 days after the date of the originally scheduled meeting.
Any business which may be transacted at an annual town meeting may be transacted at a special town meeting.
History: 1983 a. 532
; 2005 a. 312
Presiding officer. 60.13(1)(a)(a)
If present, the town board chairperson shall chair the town meeting. If the town board chairperson is absent, another town board supervisor shall chair the town meeting. If no town board supervisor is present, the town meeting shall elect the chairperson of the meeting.
If the annual town meeting is held in a year when the office of town board chairperson is filled by election, the person holding the office on the day prior to the date of the election to fill the office shall preside at the annual town meeting and is entitled to receive the per diem which is ordinarily paid to the presiding officer. If such person is absent or refuses to serve as the presiding officer, the presiding officer shall be chosen under par. (a)
The town meeting chairperson shall conduct the meeting's proceedings in accordance with accepted parliamentary procedure.
The town meeting chairperson shall maintain order and decorum, and may order any person to leave a town meeting if the person has conducted himself or herself in a disorderly manner and persisted in such conduct after being directed by the chairperson to cease the conduct. If the person refuses the chairperson's order to withdraw, the town meeting chairperson may order a constable or other law enforcement officer to take the person into custody until the meeting is adjourned.
History: 1983 a. 532
Any qualified elector of the town, as defined under ch. 6
, may vote at a town meeting.
Method of action; necessary votes.
All actions of a town meeting shall be by vote. All questions shall be decided by a majority of the electors voting.
Order of business.
At the beginning of the town meeting, the town meeting chairperson shall state the business to be transacted and the order in which the business will be considered. No proposal to levy a tax, except a tax for defraying necessary town expenses, may be acted on out of the order stated by the town meeting chairperson.
Reconsideration of actions. 60.14(4)(a)(a)
A vote of the town meeting may be reconsidered at the same meeting at which the vote was taken if the town meeting votes to reconsider within one hour after the initial vote was taken.
No action of a town meeting may be reconsidered at a subsequent town meeting held prior to the next annual town meeting unless a special town meeting is convened under s. 60.12 (1) (b)
and the written request or the call for the meeting states that a purpose of the meeting is reconsideration of the action.
History: 1983 a. 532
The town clerk shall serve as clerk of the town meeting. If the town clerk is absent, the deputy town clerk shall serve as town meeting clerk. If the deputy clerk is absent, the town meeting chairperson shall appoint a clerk for the meeting. The clerk of the town meeting shall keep minutes of the proceedings. The clerk of the town meeting shall keep a poll list if required by the annual town meeting under s. 60.11 (7)
. The town meeting minutes shall be signed by the clerk of the town meeting and filed in the office of the town clerk within 5 days after the meeting.
History: 1983 a. 532
First town meeting in new towns. 60.16(1)(1)
The first town meeting in a newly organized town shall be held at 8 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday of the first April after the town is organized. If the 3rd Tuesday of the first April after a town is organized has passed and the first town meeting has not been held, 3 qualified electors of the town may call the first town meeting any time thereafter by posting notice of the town meeting in at least 3 public places at least 10 days prior to the date of the meeting.
The first town meeting shall be held at the location designated in the documents which established the town. The location may be within the town or, if convenient, within any other town or within a city or village in the county in which the town is located.
The qualified electors present at the first town meeting shall choose one elector as chairperson of the town meeting, 2 electors as inspectors and one elector as clerk. The inspectors and clerk shall take and sign the oath required of inspectors at elections under s. 7.30 (5)
. The oath may be administered to the inspectors and clerk by the chairperson and either inspector may then administer the oath to the chairperson. After they have signed the oath, the chairperson, clerk and inspectors shall conduct the first town meeting.
The first town meeting may conduct any business that a town meeting may conduct under ss. 60.11
The town board consists of the supervisors of the town. The board shall be designated “Town Board of ....".
Two supervisors constitute a quorum of a 3-member town board, 3 supervisors constitute a quorum of a 4-member or 5-member town board, and 4 supervisors constitute a quorum of a 7-member town board under s. 60.21 (3)
Meetings of the town board may be held in the town or in any other town, city or village in the same county or in an adjoining county, subject to subch. V of ch. 19
Town board, increased size authorized. 60.21(1)(1)
In towns where board has village powers.
Any town board authorized to exercise village powers may, by ordinance, increase the number of supervisors to no more than 5. If the number of supervisors is increased to 4, the town shall elect 2 supervisors each year. If the number is increased to 5, the town shall elect 3 supervisors in odd-numbered years and 2 supervisors in even-numbered years. An increase in the number of town board supervisors under this subsection does not create a vacancy on the town board.
Where town of certain population. 60.21(2)(a)
If directed by the town meeting under s. 60.10 (2) (b)
, a town board of 5 members, elected at-large, shall be established in towns having a population of 2,500 or more.
If a 5-member board is established and the seats of the board are numbered, the board may, by ordinance, stagger the terms of its supervisors so that the chairperson and 2 supervisors running for even-numbered seats on the town board serve 2-year terms and the other 2 supervisors serve one-year terms, with each subsequent election to be for 2-year terms so that elections occur in both odd-numbered and even-numbered years.
If a 5-member board is established and the seats of the board are not numbered, the board may, by ordinance, stagger the terms of its members so that the chairperson and 2 supervisors receiving the highest number of votes in the next election serve 2-year terms and the other 2 supervisors serve one-year terms, with each subsequent election to be for 2-year terms so that elections occur in both odd-numbered and even-numbered years.
An ordinance to stagger the terms of supervisors may be adopted to apply to the initial election of 5 supervisors or to any subsequent election.
An increase or reduction in the membership of a town board under this subsection takes effect on January 1 of the first odd-numbered year following the most recent federal decennial or special census, but does not create any vacancy on a town board prior to the spring election.
In a county containing one town. 60.21(3)(a)
The town board of a town in any county containing only one town may consist of not more than 7 members. One or more members shall be elected from the town at-large and one member shall be elected from each town board ward, of which there shall be not less than 2 nor more than 5. The member elected from the town at-large who has the highest number of votes shall be the town board chairperson.
The number and boundaries of the town board wards and the number of town board members to be elected from the town at-large shall be designated by the legislature when the town is first established. Thereafter, the number of wards shall be subject to reapportionment and increase or decrease and the number of town board members elected at-large shall be subject to increase or decrease by majority vote of the town board. In order to provide that all inhabitants are adequately represented, each ward shall have substantially the same number of inhabitants, shall, insofar as practicable, consist of contiguous territory and shall be in compact form. The total number of town board members may not be changed from the number initially fixed by the legislature.
History: 1983 a. 532
; 1985 a. 135
General powers and duties.
The town board:
Charge of town affairs.
Has charge of all affairs of the town not committed by law to another body or officer or to a town employee.
Charge of actions.
Has charge of any action or legal proceeding to which the town is a party.
If authorized under s. 60.10 (2) (c)
, may exercise powers relating to villages and conferred on village boards under ch. 61
, except those powers which conflict with statutes relating to towns and town boards.
Jurisdiction of constable.
Shall determine the jurisdiction and duties of the town constable. A town constable who is given law enforcement duties by the town board, and who meets the definition of a law enforcement officer under s. 165.85 (2) (c)
, shall comply with the minimum employment standards for law enforcement officers established by the law enforcement standards board and shall complete training under s. 165.85 (4) (a) 1.
Pursue certain claims of town.
Shall demand payment of penalties and forfeitures recoverable by the town and damages incurred by the town due to breach of official bond, injury to property or other injury. If, following demand, payment is not made, the board shall pursue appropriate legal action to recover the penalty, forfeiture or damages.
There is a four-part test in evaluating whether a municipality may regulate a matter of state-wide concern: 1) whether the legislature has expressly withdrawn the power of municipalities to act; 2) whether the ordinance logically conflicts with the state legislation; 3) whether the ordinance defeats the purpose of the state legislation; or 4) whether the ordinance goes against the spirit of the state legislation. Anchor Savings and Loan Ass'n v. Madison EOC, 120 Wis. 2d 391
, 355 N.W.2d 234
The state regulatory scheme for tobacco sales preempts municipalities from adopting regulations that are not in strict conformity with those of the state. U.S. Oil, Inc. v. City of Fond du Lac, 199 Wis. 2d 333
, 544 N.W.2d 589
(Ct. App. 1995), 95-0213
A town with village powers has the authority to adopt ordinances authorizing its plan commission to review and approve industrial site plans before issuing a building permit. An ordinance regulating development need not be created with a particular degree of specificity other than is necessary to give developers reasonable notice of the areas of inquiry that the town will examine in approving or disapproving proposed sites. Town of Grand Chute v. U.S. Paper Converters, Inc., 229 Wis. 2d 674
, 600 N.W.2d 33
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-2797
A town board exercising village powers is not entitled to purchase land and contract for construction when doing so would conflict with statutes relating to towns and town boards. The village board power to acquire land and construct buildings under s. 61.34 (3) is in direct conflict with s. 60.10 (2) (e) and (f), which relates to towns and town boards and which confers that power of authorization on the town meeting. Town of Clayton v. Cardinal Construction Co., 2009 WI App 54
, 317 Wis. 2d 424
, 767 N.W.2d 605
The line distinguishing general police power regulation from zoning ordinances is far from clear. The question of whether a particular enactment constitutes a zoning ordinance is often a matter of degree. Broad statements of the purposes of zoning and the purposes of an ordinance are not helpful in distinguishing a zoning ordinance from an ordinance enacted pursuant to non-zoning police power. The statutorily enumerated purposes of zoning are not the exclusive domain of zoning regulation. A more specific and analytically helpful formulation of the purpose of zoning, at least in the present case, is to separate incompatible land uses. Multiple factors are considered and discussed. Zwiefelhofer v. Town of Cooks Valley, 2012 WI 7
, 338 Wis. 2d 488
, 809 N.W.2d 362
Permitting general town regulation of shorelands under village powers conflicts with the statutory scheme of ss. 59.692 and 281.31, which, by their plain language, appear to deliberately exclude towns from having shoreland zoning authority, except in the circumstance identified in s. 59.692 (2) (b) [now s. 59.692 (2) (b), (bg), and (bm)]. Hegwood v. Town of Eagle Zoning Board of Appeals, 2013 WI App 118
, 351 Wis. 2d 196
, 839 N.W.2d 111
The town board may: