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:
Cooperate with the state, counties and other units of government under s. 66.0301
, including cooperative arrangements involving the acquisition, development, remodeling, construction, equipping, operation and maintenance of land, buildings and facilities for regional projects, whether or not located in the town.
Establish utility districts under s. 66.0827
and provide that any convenience or public improvement in the district be paid for under that section.
Appropriations for civic and other functions.
If authorized under s. 60.10 (3) (b)
, appropriate reasonable amounts of money for gifts or donations to be used to:
Further civic functions and agricultural societies.
Advertise the attractions, advantages and natural resources of the town.
Establish, maintain and repair ecological areas.
Provide for the organization, equipment and maintenance of a town museum or a municipal band, or for the employment of other bands to give concerts and municipal entertainment in the town.
Construct or otherwise acquire, equip, furnish, operate and maintain, with the county in which the town is located, a county-town auditorium. The provisions of s. 66.0925
, as they apply to cities, shall apply to towns, and the powers and duties conferred and imposed by s. 66.0923
upon mayors, councils and specified city officials are hereby conferred upon town board chairpersons, town boards and town officials performing duties similar to the duties of such specified city officials respectively, except those provisions or powers that conflict with statutes relating to towns and town boards.
Town industrial development agency.
In order to promote and develop the resources of the town, appropriate money for and create a town industrial development agency or appoint an executive officer and provide staff and facilities for a nonprofit organization organized to act under this subsection. A town industrial development agency created under this subsection may:
Develop data regarding the industrial needs of, advantages of and sites in the town.
Engage in promotional activities to acquaint prospective purchasers with industrial products manufactured in the town.
Coordinate its activities with the county planning commission, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and private credit development organizations.
Engage in any other activity necessary for the continued improvement of the town's industrial climate.
Conservation of natural resources.
If authorized by the town meeting under s. 60.10 (3) (a)
, appropriate money for the conservation of natural resources or for payment to a bona fide nonprofit organization for the conservation of natural resources within the town or beneficial to the town. No payment may be made to a nonprofit organization unless the organization submits and the town board approves a detailed plan of the work to be done. The plan shall include the name of the owner of any property on which work is to be performed.
Emergency pest and disease control.
Appropriate money for the control of insects, weeds or plant or animal diseases if:
An emergency arises within the town due to insects, weeds or plant or animal diseases; and
The board determines that any delay resulting from calling a special town meeting to authorize the town board to appropriate money for this purpose under s. 60.10 (3) (c)
would result in serious harm to the general welfare of the town.
Resident health care providers in certain towns.
In a town comprised entirely of one or more islands, annually appropriate money to retain a physician or, if no physician is available, a physician assistant, naturopathic doctor, or nurse practitioner, as a resident within the town.
Bowling centers, dance halls, roadhouses, places of amusement, pool tables and amusement devices.
Regulate, including the licensing of, bowling centers, dance halls, roadhouses, other places of amusement, billiard and pool tables and amusement devices maintained in commercial facilities. If a license is required, the board shall establish the term of the license, not to exceed one year, and the license fee. The board may suspend or revoke, for cause, a license issued under this subsection. Any person violating a regulation adopted under this subsection shall forfeit to the town an amount established by the town board.
Reimbursement of school districts for providing transportation in hazardous areas.
Reimburse a school district for costs incurred by the district under s. 121.54 (9)
in transporting pupils who reside in the town.
Exchange tax credit for county land.
Authorize the town treasurer to exchange any credit the town has with the county, arising from delinquent real estate taxes, for county-owned land.
Associations of towns.
Appropriate money to purchase membership in any association of town boards for the protection of town interests and improvement of town government.
Vacation of alleys.
Vacate any alley in the town under s. 66.1003
. The town board may not vacate, under this subsection, an alley adjacent to land fronting a state or county trunk highway.
Change street names.
Name, or change the name of, any street in the town under s. 82.03 (7)
Neighborhood watch program and signs.
Authorize a neighborhood watch program. The town board may place within the right-of-way of a street or highway under the jurisdiction of the town a neighborhood watch sign of a uniform design approved by the department of transportation. If the town board obtains the approval of the county board, the town board may place a sign under this subsection within the right-of-way of a county trunk highway within the limits of the town. No sign under this subsection may be placed within the right-of-way of a highway designated as part of the national system of interstate and defense highways.
Fences in subdivisions.
If authorized under s. 60.10 (2) (c)
to exercise village powers, by ordinance require a subdivider to construct a fence under s. 90.02
on the boundary of a subdivision, as defined under s. 236.02 (8)
, as a condition of plat approval by the town. The fence shall be maintained under s. 90.05 (2)
and repaired under ss. 90.10
Disposition of dead animals.
Notwithstanding s. 59.54 (21)
, dispose of any dead animal within the town or contract for the removal and disposition with any private disposal facility. A town may enter into a contract with any other governmental unit under s. 66.0301
to provide for the removal and disposition. A town may recover its costs under this subsection by imposing a special charge under s. 66.0627
Contribution to truancy.
If the town board has established a municipal court under s. 755.01 (1)
, adopt an ordinance to prohibit conduct that is the same as or similar to that prohibited by s. 948.45
and impose a forfeiture for a violation of the ordinance.