The recently enacted 2009 Wisconsin Act 173 modifies numerous statutes related to compensation of elected officials, the bidding procedure for public works contracts and restrictions on contracts for police services. The Act also creates flexibility in village notice of publication requirements and reduces municipal liability for mob damage.

Establishment and Modification of Compensation for Elected Officials

The Act establishes a requirement that compensation for an elective city or village office must be established before the earliest time for filing nomination papers for that office. No changes may be made to the compensation level for that office through completion of the relevant term. Newly incorporated municipalities may establish compensation for its officers during the first term of office.

The Act also limits the formalities required to modify compensation. Previously, villages and cities were required to pass an ordinance if such a modification was to be enacted. The Act removes the ordinance requirement.

Modification of Bidding Procedure for Village Contracts

The Act repeals the present statutes related to village bidding procedures for improvements as well as the exception for contracts over $25,000 and alternative procedures for letting of contracts. The Act establishes instead that all village bids for public construction are to be let by the village board in accordance with the procedures outlined for cities in Wis. Stat. § 62.15. This modification removes any inconsistency in rules and procedures among villages and cities and provides villages with a more comprehensive procedure for letting.

The Act also establishes a more extensive method for rejection of bids, completion of work by the municipality directly and collection of costs for the work. This statute will now apply to both cities and villages. Further, a prior limitation that bidder’s proof of responsibility restrictions were not applicable to first class cities has been removed.

Contracting for Police Services

A new restriction in the Act prohibits villages and cities from contracting with a county for all of the municipality’s police protection services. This restriction applies unless the village or city chooses to abolish its police department entirely under Wis. Stat. §§ 61.65(1)(a)4. or 62.13(2s) respectively. Villages and cities not abolishing their police departments remain at liberty to contract for police services from other cities, towns, or villages or with counties, but may not enter into an exclusive contract with one county for police services.

The Act also specifically states that a city that contracts for all of its police and fire services need not have a board of police and fire commissioners. However, if the city contracts for all police services, but not all fire services, it must have a board of commissioners, which may address only fire issues.

Enhanced Flexibility in Village Notice Requirements

The Act allows a village to enact a resolution or ordinance authorizing someone other than the village president and clerk to sign the relevant written instrument(s) for purposes of publication of notice of ordinances.

Reduced Municipal Liability for Mob Damage

The Act removes the statute which previously identified the village president and trustees as officers of the peace for purposes of suppressing riotous behavior. Further, the Act repeals Wis. Stat. § 893.81, which imposes liability on cities or counties for personal injuries and property damage resulting from mob damage.

Universal Regulation Political Signs

The Act amends the statute allowing regulation of size, shape and placement of political signs larger than 11 square feet, which previously applied only to first, second, and third class cities or towns. The statute, § 12.04(4)(b) now applies to all municipalities.

Extended Village Condemnation Rights

The Act provides village condemnation authority with the opportunity to pursue condemnation for housing or urban renewal purposes. As with other municipal entities, the process is governed by Wis. Stat. §§ 32.05 (condemnation for sewers or transportation facilities) or 32.06 (condemnation for other than transportation matters).


The provisions of 2009 Wisconsin Act 173 related to compensation of municipal officials applies to the first village and city elective offices filled at the 2010 spring election. The portions of the Act related to the bidding process will be applicable to the solicitation of bids made on January 1, 2010. The repeal of § 893.81 is effective March 30, 2010.

If you would like additional information regarding 2009 Wisconsin Act 173 and its impact, please contact your Stafford Rosenbaum attorney or an attorney on our Government Law Team.

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