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Local and state governments--how to access them : Overview of local governments in Wisconsin

How to find your local and state government representatives and local government bodies.

Overview of local governments in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Blue Book (a book that gives an overview of Wisconsin government) has an 8-page chapter on Local Government in Wisconsin

This is a good place to start to get a sense of how the different kinds of local government differ from each other.

Some basic facts from the chapter

Forms of local government in Wisconsin fall in to two general types:

  • "General purpose districts," which have broad authority to administer a particular locale. 
    • They consist of
      • Counties
      • Towns--lie entirely within the boundaries of counties
      • Villages--can lie across county boundaries
      • Cities--can lie across county boundaries
    • Each Wisconsinite lives in a county.  Each Wisconsinite also lives in a town OR village OR city.
  •  “Special purpose districts,” whose authority is limited to the performance of a specific function. They include
    • School districts
    • Technical college districts
    • Metropolitan sewerage districts
    • Professional sports team stadium districts

Information about cities and villages in Wisconsin

List of all municipalities in Wisconsin, from the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration's Demographic Services Center

  • Does NOT have a set of links to every Wisconsin municipality
  • Does have links to the following two documents (among others):
    • The "Alphabetical list of Wisconsin Municipalities," an Excel spreadsheet that indicates which kind of municipality each entry is (city, village, or town) and the county it's located in; updated May 2020
    • "Wisconsin Cities, Villages, Townships and Unincorporated Places listed by WI Dept. of Health Services," PDF that indicates whether a place is a city, village, township, or unicorporated place; and which county each place is in. The first page of the document lists cities and villages that are in more than one county.

 

The information and links below all come from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities (About the League)

Definition of cities and villages

"Cities and villages in Wisconsin are incorporated municipalities that provide a full range of services to persons and properties within their boundaries, including street maintenance and snow plowing, sewer, water and electricity, police and fire protection, garbage collection, libraries, parks and recreation, zoning and planning, and public transportation." (From "About the League," League of Wisconsin Municipalities.)

 

League Members (ie, a list of most Wisconsin cities and villages)

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities is a membership organization comprised of 189 cities and 404 villages. Most, but not all, of Wisconsin's villages and cities are members of the League, and there are links to those member villages and cities on the lower part of the League Members page.

 

About Wisconsin Municipalities

This page has information on different classes of Wisconsin cities (a classification based on city size) and distinctions between cities and villages.

 

A Citizen's Guide to Wisconsin Cities and Villages

An 8-page pdf brochure from the League.

Information about counties in Wisconsin

Information from the Wisconsin Counties Association (About Us section)

 

List of and links to Wisconsin's 72  counties

  • Click on the county name to get a brief description of the county.
  • Click on the web address in the right column to go to the county's website.

 

Wisconsin County Government: History Services Funding 

  • 12-page pamphlet from the Wisconsin Counties Association.
  • Also available from the Wisconsin Counties Association's Publications page