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Brian Ohm Updates Land Use & Zoning Legislation and Judicial Decisions

Brian Ohm

Prof. Brian Ohm, UWEX and UW Madison

Next Local Land Use and Zoning WisLine is Wednesday, April 8, 2015, 10:30 am to 12:00 noon. Prof. Brain Ohm presents a program reviewing the latest Wisconsin court decisions and legislation related to land use planning and implementation. CLE and AICP credit approved.
To register Online here or by phone call 608-262-0810.

Brian Ohm is a noted Land Use Law Specialist in the Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning and the University of Wisconsin -Madison/Extension.

Local Government Center Hiring Budget Finance Specialist

14992214552_5ee75090b4_kThe Local Government Center is looking for an individual to teach, research and provide leadership in the fields of local Government finance and budgeting.

Continuing fiscal strain is transforming the dynamics of finance at all levels of local government. Applied research and outreach education is needed to better understand the impacts of these changes. Local Government Center faculty and staff provide support to elected and appointed officials, as well as professionals working for Wisconsin counties, cities, villages and towns. This education helps Wisconsin communities and those that serve those communities make the best-informed decisions Read more »

Local Government Essentials WisLine Teleconferences Start March 2015

Some local government duties are a “must”.  They must be done each year, they must be done on time, accroding to statute and must be done correctly and/or effectively.  The Local Government Center has included three must have local government functions into a WisLine Teleconference series called “Local Government Essentials.”  The series begins March 16 with a program for towns the On the Annual Meeting.   Here is the line-up of programs in this series.

Board of Review Training, which  used to be in this series,is a now stand alone video program for 2015 to be delivered totally on DVD.  Find out more about Board of Review Training here.

Spanish Language Factsheets Available

A Spanish language fact sheet on Wisconsin’s Public Records Law , or Ley de Registros Publicos,  became the most recent effort by the Local Government Center’s effort to inform on important local government laws and issues, as well as reach out to Wisconsin’s Spanish speaking residents. The Spanish Recordslanguage fact sheet joins the Open Meetings Law  (Ley de Reuniones Abiertas de Wisconsin) fact sheet, which was translated into Spanish in 2011.

 Fact sheets on local government topics are a staple of the services from the Local Government Center provides. Two of the most downloaded fact sheets of the Center are the ones on Open Meetings Law and Public Records Law. They were obvious choices to be translated into Spanish. Multilingualism has a long history in Wisconsin. Most notably, Wisconsin’s first Constitution was published in English, German and Norwegian so as to reach all communities in the state even though English has been the predominantly spoken language.(See Legislative Reference Bureau Brief 02-10.)  The Local Government Center is will continue to work to provide access to its information for better governance and participation by all.

Be Sure Your Local Government Complies with Act 10’s Grievance Procedure Statute

Since October 2011, all local government units are required to have a “grievance procedure that addresses employee terminations.”  Wis. Stat. §  66.0509(1m), requires that this procedure be a written document and that it address discipline and workplace safety issues as well as employee terminations. act 10A Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision from December 2013, gives local governments reason local government units should review their grievance procedure.

Wis. Stat. §  66.0509(1m), does not define “employee terminations.” In Dodge County’s grievance policy “termination” was defined to exclude “termination of employment … due to medical condition, lack of qualification or license, non-renewal of contract, or other inability to perform job duties.”  When a County employee lost her license due to an OWI, the County dismissed her. The employee requested a grievance hearing, but the county denied her a hearing. The employee sued and argued that Wis. Stat. § 66.0509(1m) required all employee terminations to be addressed by a grievance procedure.

The county maintained that she was not terminated. Under the county policy, because having a valid license was a qualification for her position, it was argued her job was lost due to losing the qualifications for the job, not due to “termination.”  Ultimately the Court of Appeals held in Prof’l Emp. Local vs. Dodge County, 2014 WI App 8 ,that Wis. Stat. § 66.0509(1m) required all employee dismissals to be addressed by a grievance procedure. Therefore exclusions in Dodge County’s grievance procedure violated Wis. Stat. § 66.0509(1m). Id. ¶ 15. Read more »

Charging Fees for Public Record Requests of Electronic Records

Providing the public with information is an essential function of local government. But complying with public records requests take time and money. To provide some balance to this conundrum, the Wisconsin Public Records Law allows an authority to charge certain fees for complying with a records request. An authority may impose a fee for the “actual, necessary and direct cost” of “reproduction and transcription,” “photographing and photographic processing,” “locating,” and “mailing or shipping.” Wis. Stats. § 19.35(3). Furthermore, an authority can only charge fees specified in the Public Records Law. (See: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. City of Milwaukee, 2012 WI 65.)

 But that raises the question – how should an authority calculate the “actual, necessary and direct cost” of complying with a public records request in an electronic format? Read more »

LGC Partner,Prof. Brian Ohm, Authors Extension Report on Changes to Planning Laws

A new Extension Report summarizing Wisconsin planning-related case law and state legislative enactments for the past year.  It is available at the UW-Madison Urban and Regional Planning Website website. 

Significant court cases over the past year eliminated the authority of towns to zone land within the shoreland area and further reduced the extraterritorial plat approval authority of cities and villages. Significant Brian Ohmlegislative developments over the past year include changes to the requirements for shoreland zoning in cities and villages, enabling a limited number of towns to use tax increment financing, and changes to the certified survey map requirements to encourage redevelopment and reuse of certain lands.  All these, and more, are summarized in the report entitled: The Year in Review: A Summary of Wisconsin Planning Cases from June 1, 2013 – July 1, 2014 and Recent Legislation.

The report is authored by Brian Ohm.  Brian is a Professor and UWEX Planning Law Specialist at both UW-Madison and UW Extension.  Brian has worked with the Local Government Center most recently as the co-moderator of the Local Land Use Planning and Zoning WisLine Series. 

Regulating the Rocket’s Red Glare

Local Governments receive many questions about fireworks, and especially during the July 4 holiday.  The Local Government Center has identified these online resources to help answer questions.f  Click the titles to connect to the information source.  And Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July!

New Fact Sheet Helps with Electronic Meeting Questions

The Local Government Center routinely receives questions about an official wanting to participate in a meeting by phone or conducting a conference callcomplete meeting by teleconference.  Winter brings a lot of these inquiries when hazardous travel or absent “snowbirds” give rise to the desire or need for an official or several to participate in a meeting by phone or other electronic media.

A new Electronic Meetings Fact Sheet offers guidance on issues raised by these requests or by attempting to conduct meetings through phone or other communication means.  This fact sheet considers issues raised under Wisconsin’s Open Meeting Law and how Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised affect electronic meetings.  It also offers some practical thoughts on the challenges of chairing or participating in an electronic meeting.

The fact sheet gives more serious thought to practical issues amusingly illustrated in a recent You Tube video entitled: A Conference Call in Real Life.  In that video a group dramatizes conference call meeting mishaps as if everyone were in the same room, such as dogs barking or appliance noises or silence when an attendee is asked a question because the person responding forgot to take their phone off mute. Local Government Specialist Dan Hill authored the fact sheet and commented that the YouTube video points out many of the potential problems faced in an actual electronic meeting.  Problems we can hope to avoid by reviewing the Electronic Meetings Fact sheet today.  Find it on the Local Government Center web site: http://lgc.uwex.edu/ under the Documents tab.

In Memoriam: Ken Nelson

We at the UW Extension Local Government Center remain deeply saddenedKenNelson by the news of Ken Nelson’s passing on November 26, 2013.  Ken assisted in the formation of the Local Government Center over 20 years ago, and served as co-director until his retirement.   Ken helped guide many UW Extension faculty and local governments.  It was an honor to be a part of his life.