WI Counties Association 2013 Boot Camp Presentation
Kyle Christianson, Legislative & Research AssociateJennifer L. Bock, Managing EditorEngaging County Boards
There are 72 counties inWisconsin. In Wisconsin, counties serve asan agent of the state. Unlikecities and villages, counties doNOT have constitutional homerule. Counties may do only what statelaw allows them to; or what thestate requires of them.County Government in WisconsinAn Overview
Counties in Wisconsin are theprimary means of delivering stateservices at the local level. For example, there are no localoffices of the WisconsinDepartment of Children & Familiesto deliver services. Countiesprovide those services for thatdepartment.County Government in WisconsinAn Overview
Care for the elderly and peoplewith disabilities. Mental health and AODAtreatment. Investigation and prevention ofchild abuse and neglect. Maintenance of state highwaysand county roads. Operate county jails and Sheriff’soffices.State Mandated Services Providedby Counties
Operation of state courts. Judges, DAs and public defendersare all state employees. Other staff and expenses are paidby counties. Recording of state vital recordsand property transactions. Real and personal property taxcollections.State Mandated Services Providedby Counties
Federal-state funds, e.g.,Medical Assistance and highwayfunds. Targeted state funds, e.g., YouthAids and Community Aids. General state funding, e.g.,shared revenue.How Counties Pay for Services
Given ongoing budget shortfalls,state funding for counties hasbeen reduced in recent years. In the 2011-13 state budget,funding for most county serviceswas reduced by 10%. Someprograms experienced largerreductions. Counties do not have a lot ofdiscretionary funds.Trends in State Funding
State law allows counties threelocal revenue sources Property taxes 0.5 percent sales tax Vehicle registration – “wheel tax”Other County Revenues
62 of 72 counties have a salestax One county has a “wheel tax” Counties’ primary source ofrevenue is the property taxCounty Revenue Sources
Property values have droppedthe last 5 years. Counties operate under both atax rate limit AND a levy limit. The tax rate limit was set at 1992levels.County Property Taxes
Levy limits have been in place since2005. 2011 Wisconsin Act 32 makes thelevy limits permanent. Levies mayincrease no more than the increasein net new construction. The statewide average allowableincrease for levies in 2012(13) is0.7%.Levy Limits
Who are County Officials? County Supervisors run for office tomake a difference – they desire tomake their county a better place They enter office with the best ofintentions They wish to be liked They want to be respectedHOW TO ENGAGE COUNTY BOARDS:KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
They are a product of their lifeexperiences They may bring bias with them to office They are a cross-section of the state They have a variety of personalitiesand skills They can be either introverts andextroverts They are detail oriented people and bigpicture people There are leaders and followersWho are County Officials?
What is their job like? It involves a lot of conflict(resolution) There are long hours and manymeetings There is a lot of time away fromhome and family They are expected to beknowledgeable about a variety oflocal issuesWho are County Officials?
County officials face demands frommany directions Constituents Local activists and supporters Media Special Interests Personal goals and aspirations FamilyWho are County Officials?
How do you break through the clutterof competing interests?By educating local officials andbuilding relationshipsHOW TO ENGAGE COUNTY BOARDS:KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
1. The Golden Rule Treat county supervisors the way youlike to be treated – with respect andcourtesy2. Always introduce yourself They may not always remember yourname3. Treat their time as valuable Many people place demands on theirtimeGetting Your Message Heard
Become a resource for county officials County supervisors are not experts inall issues. Many have full-time jobs thatrequire a significant time commitment. You are the expert, make yourself aresource for them. Become aneducator. Make the case for why counties shoulddevote their limited resources tobroadband efforts.Getting Your Message Heard
Educate supervisors on county-relatedapplications Law enforcement – live and remote videomonitoring Surveillance cameras in remote areas thatare problem areas Access to meetings for everyone in thecounty Distance learning and remote education foryour school districts Live medical consultation for your clinicsand hospital(s) in the county Electronic medical records Radio interoperability Public safetyGetting Your Message Heard
Enhanced broadband may not matter toindividual supervisors, but it matters tosomeone. Taxpayers benefit from more efficient, less-expensive government operations. Schools benefit by enablinginterconnectedness, access to the samelevel of education in rural areas as in urbanareas. Hospitals and patients benefit by havingaccess to experts and specialists remotely. Business benefits by leveling the playingfield (online bill pay, supply chain, etc.) Farmers benefit due to the increasedreliance on GPS, internet-based irrigation,fertilizing practices.Getting Your Message Heard
When discussing an issue (e.g.,broadband) Be pleasant Be clear Be concise Be accurate Be firm but not argumentative Thank themGetting Your Message Heard
PEOPLE! There are strength in numbers. Your group Your coalition Your supportersGetting Your Message Heard
“Engagement is building relationshipsand putting those relationships to workto accomplish shared goals.”Gideon Rosenblatt,The Alchemy of ChangeQuestions & AnswersEngaging County Boards