Making Laws for Milwaukee County
The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is a legislative body of 18 representatives, each of whom is elected to a two-year term on the nonpartisan spring ballot in even-numbered years. Each supervisor represents about 53,000 people.
At the beginning of each term, the County Board elects one of its members to serve as chairperson. The current chair is Theodore Lipscomb, Sr. The chairman presides over Board meetings, makes assignments to the standing committees and special subcommittees and handles the department's daily business.
The Board's business is conducted through committee and Board meetings. Meetings are open and the public is welcome to attend. Public comment is welcome at committe meetings.
The Board's power to determine policy and direct county government comes from its state-vested authority to adopt resolutions and ordinances. Because of this authority, the Board is able to establish programs, services and laws for the County.
One of the major responsibilities of the Board is to adopt the annual county budget. By October 1 of each year, the County Executive presents his recommended budget to the Board. The Finance & Audit Committee spends about six weeks deliberating and recommending changes to the Executive Budget. At its annual meeting in mid-November, the full County Board adopts the next year's budget.
At regular meetings of the County Board, supervisors consider various ordinances and resolutions affecting county government. Much of the work is conducted through the Board's seven standing committees where committee members receive testimony from supervisors, departments, outside agencies and the public.
A Fair Deal for Milwaukee County
For too long, Milwaukee County has been forced to delay necessary maintenance in our parks and facilities, and put off important investments in public infrastructure and popular cultural venues.
In recent years, budget cuts have threatened public services that our neighbors depend on every day.
This is why Milwaukee County leaders have joined together with business and community leaders to propose a Fair Deal for Milwaukee County.
Find out more about the Fair Deal proposal here.
Milwaukee County Budget Process
The Milwaukee County Budget is an important document that serves several purposes. First, the budget document serves as a financial and operational blueprint that aids departmental administrators in the provision of needed services. Second, it functions as a statement of policy developed and approved by the county's elected officials. Finally, the budget is a source of information for the general public, enabling citizens to understand the many functions of County government and how resources are allocated.
Click here for a timeline of the budget process.
State Statutes require that the County Executive submit their budget proposal to the County Board by October 1st. In the months preceding this date, County departments submit budget requests to the Department of Administration Services (DAS). Together, these requested department budgets are called the Requested Budget. Through review and analysis, the DAS Budget Section makes recommendations to the County Executive and help him prepare the County Executive's Recommended Budget. After the County Board of Supervisors receives the Recommended Budget, the Comptroller's research staff works with Supervisors to analyze the budget and develop amendments that may be included when the Finance and Audit Committee presents the budget to the full County Board. The County Board votes to adopt or reject budget amendments, and then votes on a final version of the budget, which is called the Adopted Budget. The Adopted Budget then goes to the County Executive for their signature. The County Executive can veto any part of the adopted budget, including single words and individual letters. The County Board then has an opportunity to accept the Executive's vetoes or reject them with a two thirds majority, which overrides the veto.
2020 Milwaukee County Adopted Budget
Creating New Legislation
A supervisor, either through personal observation or from a suggestion by a citizen or county staff, can develop and submit a resolution or ordinance for consideration by the County Board. The chairman then assigns it to a particular standing committee which has jurisdiction in that area. For example, proposed legislation dealing with bus service would be referred to the Transportation, Public Works & Transit Committee for review and recommendation.
Alternatively, a supervisor can bypass the committee process and ask for suspension of the rules in order to ask for immediate consideration of the legislation at a County Board meeting. If the Board agrees, the matter is debated and a vote is taken when the matter is introduced. When going through the committee process, the legislation may need further study or a legal opinion. It is then referred to the appropriate County department and returns for committee debate at a later date. The committee may hold public hearings on the measure to determine how citizens view the matter. Bus fare changes, the annual budget and transit route service changes are some of the items that require a public hearing.
When the committee has completed its work, the proposed legislation is brought to the County Board for a vote. For most legislation, a simple majority vote is enough. A two-thirds vote, of members present, is required for specific items such as creating new employment positions, temporary borrowing of money or to override the veto of the County Executive.
Find Your Supervisor
Not sure of your district or supervisor? Just enter your address in this interactive tool. We want to hear from you. Send us an email or connect through social media.
Look Up Now
Meetings: Past, In-Progress and Scheduled
Looking for an agenda for a committee meeting?
Looking for meeting minutes?
Looking for a resolution or another item that came before a committee?
Use the County Legislative Information Center, or CLIC.
You can search CLIC for county legislative files, meeting agendas and meeting minutes from 2012 to present.
Intern With the County Board of Supervisors
Interning at the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors will give students interested in public policy a unique introduction to local government. Interns will be exposed to the inner workings of the legislative process as it pertains to Milwaukee County. Under direct supervision of current public servants, interns will play an integral part in the daily functions of the Board.
Special Committees, Task Forces and Commissions
The following are County Board special committees, task forces and commissions. For information on these and past or inactive special committees, task forces and commissions, contact the County Clerk.
FREE Local Attractions and Fun Ideas for the Family
Milwaukee County residents and visitors can enjoy free local attractions at our most popular destinations!
Attractions include the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee Public Museum, Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Domes, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Boerner Botanical Gardens and the Charles Allis Art Museum