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County Boards May Not Reassign Appointment Powers Statutorily Vested in County Administrators or County Executives, Van Hollen Concludes in Formal Opinion


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today issued a formal opinion to Ozaukee County Corporation Counsel Dennis E. Kenealy concluding that county boards in counties that have a county administrator or county executive may not reassign appointment powers granted by statute in those officers. 


Van Hollen's opinion states that a county is a creature of the legislature, and that as such, counties have only those powers that the legislature has provided by statute.  While statutes grant counties broad home rule authority over organizational and administrative powers, state law expressly provides that those organizational and administrative powers are subject to any other statutes that grant organizational or administrative powers to a county executive or county administrator.   The Legislature has enacted two statutes, sections 59.17(2)(c) and 59.18(2)(c) of the Wisconsin Statutes, that provide that the county executive or county administrator is to appoint the members of all boards and commissions in all cases where the statutes grant the power to make such appointments to the county board or to the chairperson of the county board in those counties that do not have a county executive or a county administrator.  As such, counties may not reassign those powers of appointment to other persons or officials, such as a county board chairperson.


A copy of the opinion is available at:


2010 file: