Salaries FAQ 2

Can the salary of governing body members be increased or decreased during a term?

The answer is no, unless the salary increase or decrease has been established in accordance with statutory deadlines. With regard to increases, sec. 66.0505 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits city and village officials who by virtue of their office are entitled to participate in setting the salary for that office, from collecting salary in excess of the salary provided at the time they took office during their term of office. Since village board and common council members are entitled to participate in setting the salary for those offices, this essentially prohibits governing body members from raising their own salaries during their term. The legislature has declared this prohibition to be of “statewide concern” which essentially means that municipalities may not enact a contrary law.

This prohibition does not prevent the members of a municipal governing body from receiving prescheduled salary increases during the middle of their term. Rather, it prohibits mid-term increases determined by current governing body members. A governing body may decide that a salary increase will take effect at the beginning of the next term, or at some other time, such as after the first year of the next term. This means, if seats are staggered, that newly elected officers could get more than officers continuing to serve out their terms.

In recent past, the statutes governing salaries for governing body members in cities and villages were inconsistent. The statute governing villages expressly prohibited a decrease in salary during the term. A similar provision prohibiting reduction of salaries for city governing body members’ salaries had been deleted back in 1967. These statutes were amended by 2009 Wisconsin Act 173 and the statutes governing cities and villages are now consistent. The statutes (secs. 61.193 and 62.09(6)) expressly provide that compensation for elective offices may not be “changed” after the deadline for establishing the compensation has passed. The word “change” is broad and encompasses decreases as well as increases. (reviewed 1/28/14)