Counties in Wisconsin
Types of local government
Local government in Wisconsin consists of 72 counties, 595 cities and villages, and 1255 towns. In addition, there are 761 special districts and 440 independent school districts.
- All cities and villages have home rule authority and are able to pass charter ordinances.
- Milwaukee is the only first-class city and only remaining city with a private act charter. Other cities are classified as second, third, or fourth class.
Initiative process availability
Cities and villages have a state set initiative process in Wis. Stat. § 9.20 that may be used to propose and vote on regular ordinances or charter ordinances.
However, court decisions have limited the subject matter available for initiative. An ordinance initiated under Wis. Stat. § 9.20: 1) must be legislative as opposed to administrative or executive in nature; 2) cannot repeal (or conflict with) an existing ordinance; 3) may not exceed the legislative powers conferred upon the governing municipal body; and 4) may not modify statutorily prescribed procedures or standards (which includes zoning). The restriction on conflicting with existing ordinances limits the initiative power compared with other states.
County website evaluations
- See also: Evaluation of Wisconsin county websites
As of 2009:
- 39 Wisconsin counties put their budgets on their websites.
- 51 counties included information on their websites about public government meetings.
- 62 included information about the county's elected officials.
- 63 included information about the county's administrative officials.
- 44 gave information about permits and zoning in the county.
- 18 of the counties put information on their websites about external audits.
- Two counties provided information about their contracts with county vendors.
- None of the county websites disclosed whether the county belonged to any government sector lobbying associations.
- Four county websites provided information on how to request public records using the Wisconsin Open Records Law.
- Five county websites provided some information about county taxes.
List of counties
- Evaluation of ballot measure information on Wisconsin county websites
- National Association of Counties, "County Seats," accessed September 19, 2013
- The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Organization and Powers of Cities and Villages
- League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Distinction Among Classes of Cities
- Mount Horeb Community Alert v. Village Board of Mt. Horeb, 263 Wis. 2d 544, 665 N.W.2d 229 (2003)
- Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local government by state
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