The Municipality Magazine

The League's the Municipality magazine is published monthly and circulates to almost 10,000 local elected officials, staff and partners in Wisconsin. We focus on issues that are of interest to Wisconsin's cities and villages and will help to move Wisconsin forward.  

If you are a local elected official or staff of a League member municipality and are not receiving the magazine, email the League and we will add you to the subscription list.  
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Current Issue

April, 2017 

We are excited to announce a new partnership with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA.) 

“One of the ongoing priorities of the League is to identify partnerships that will help Wisconsin’s cities and villages succeed, and this is a winner,” said League of Wisconsin Municipalities Executive Director Jerry Deschane. “The League will work with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and our members to bring WHEDA’s resources to communities all over the state and I’m confident our cities and villages will see tremendous benefits.”

Altoona details how housing change is hard to predict and constant, we provide a page of housing resources that you can clip and keep, we learn about the psychology of housing and see the possible property tax shift to homeowners and small business owners if Dark Store isn't stopped.  

On the League's April Local Perspective we learn more about how WHEDA is working to promote economic development and housing in Wisconsin from Brian Schimming, Chief Operating Officer and William Martin, Director, Business and Community Engagement & Senior Program Officer, WHEDA Foundation. Watch the show thanks to FACTv in Fitchburg here...‎

3 17 Mag Parks and Rec
March, 2017
Wisconsin's cities and villages are rich with opportunities to play -  inside and outside and in any kind of weather. In the March, the Municipality we highlight both the work of Parks and Recreation staff and the value that this essential service provides. In addition, MSA Professsional Services details their "Cost of Clean Report" providing data on 20 years of sewer user charge trends and predicting that rate increases are around the corner as grant availability decreases. League Legal Counsel provides both a detailed look at Title II of the ADA and outlines the roles, responsibilities and rulemaking authority of local Park Boards. We also find out what a "pedlet" is, thanks to West Allis Mayor Devine. 

Village of Rothschild President George Peterson is our guest for this month's Local Perspective. George and Jerry talk about the challenges and trends that go into a successful Parks and Recreation program.  Thanks to the Sun Prairie Media Center for producing the show for us. You can watch it here...

The March E-Muni provides you with links to the Pickleball Association, the Montana pedlet, modeled after Mayor Devine's West Allis prototype as well as a plethora of links to Parks and Recreation resources.  
Feb. 2017 Cities and Villages Citizens Guide
February, 2017

What, who and how - the basics of cities and villages are presented in this issue of the Municipality magazine.  Plus Ryan VanLanduyt, President of Wisconsin Community Media and Executive Director of Rice Lake Community Media talks about the current state of communication and League staff go Digging Into Municipal Cemetery Management.  We republish an article from the Wisconsin State Journal on broadband and in legal, Claire Silverman provides details on open meetings law in the event that members of a governing body are attending other meetings. 

Representative John Macco is our guest for this month's League "the Local Perspective."  As Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Macco is leading the charge on what he calls "blowing up" Wisconsin's tax and revenue system.  Thanks to WisconsinEye for producing the show.  Watch the League's February "The Local Perspective"... 

The League's "E-Muni" provides a deep dive into Wisconsin's local government.  Read the League's "E-Muni".... 
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January, 2017

The League’s Board of Directors has adopted an aggressive legislative agenda for the 2017-2018 session detailed in the Municipality. The Board was guided, as always, by the League’s core principles of strengthening local democracy and preserving and enhancing local revenue sources. Read about the opportunities and challenges anticipated in the 2017-18 Legislative Session.  The importance of municipal rental inspection programs is detailed by Mark Rohloff, City Manager, City of Oshkosh and Tom Larson, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, Wisconsin REALTORS Association discusses the property tax shift that would result if the state eliminates the personal property tax. 

We report on the progress we've made on the League's Legislative Agenda in the January E-Muni and provide you with additional resources on rental unit inspections and a link to the Wisconsin Realtors Association footnotes on personal property tax.

Tom Larson, Wisconsin Realtors Association Senior VP of Legal & Public Affairs talks the Personal Property Tax with Jerry Deschane on the January League Local Perspective.  The WRA opposes eliminating the Personal Property Tax if it creates a shift to real property or if it creates a budget hole for local governments.  Thanks to WSTOTV in Stoughton for producing this show for us.  
December the Municipality - Engagement in the Civic Process
December 2016 

Engagement in the Civic Process is a multi-faceted issue.  It's about citizens engaging with their government in person and online and it is also about citizens running for office.  As Scot Simpson, River Falls City Administrator says in his article on engagement: "It's Everyone's Business." Jerry sat down with Wauwatosa Mayor Ehley and Bayfield Mayor Ringberg to ask them what inspired them to run for Mayor, Nick and Alex fromPolco take on the philosophical and practical considerations of engagement and Hoodstarter details why online crowdsourcing works.  Todd Berry, WisTAX writes about the research whileRich Kremer, WPR digs deeper and interviews village and city officials about the interest, or lack thereof in running for local office. 

Scot Simpson, River Falls City Administrator sat down with Jerry to talk about creating a culture of engagement.  You can watch the League's December "Local Perspective" on YouTube, thanks to FCTV.  

You can read the December E-Muni, the electronic supplement to the magazine here.  We link to many additional resources on civic engagement.  

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November 2016 

November's the Municipality is focused on "The Future of Wisconsin," so we sent an email to the clerks asking for photos of "Future Voters of Wisconsin."  We sourced more than 100 and in order to make sure that the photos weren't tiny, and that each child was on the cover, we created three covers for this magazine. 

Futurist Rebecca Ryan takes on the future of Wisconsin government, Jerry Deschane interviewed Lancaster residents in an article entitled "Changing with the Times: The Impact of Hispanic Immigration on One Small City in Wisconsin," plus Jim Wood of Wood Communicationwrites on "Workforce Retention and Recruitment' while Richard Heinemann and Julia Potter of Boardman & Clark LLC details "How Wisconsin Municipalities Can Invest in the New Solar Economy."

Rebecca Ryan brings her wit and analysis but no crystal ball to the discussion she and Jerry Deschane have about the future of Wisconsin in the League's latest Local Perspective.  Thanks to Sun Prairie Media for hosting us!  

The November E-Muni provides resources on the Wisconsin Local Government Center's Trend Report, Wisconsin's demographics, the Monarch challenge as well as a bonus article on the successful Middleton Climate Referendum.  

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October 2016 

The October the Municipality highlights the expertise you'll have access to at the League's 118th Annual Conference in Stevens Point.  Charles Carlson, Carlson Dettmann Consulting LLC writes about "Employee Performance and Compensation in the Public Sector" and was one of 30+ presenters at the Annual Conference.  The cover photo is the city's skyline provided by Stevens Point resident Bruno Castelhano.  

Watch the League's "The Local Perspective" interview with Charles Carlson, Carlson Dettmann Consulting, LLC as he dives deeper into the issue of employee compensation thanks to FACTvFitchburg here.  

The League's October E-Muni provides additional resources on compensation, the FLSA overtime rule, the five conference resolutions and Mobile Integrated Health Care's benefit to your community. Read it here.  

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September 2016

In this month’s issue, we focus on some of the challenges that come from living among the world’s best-irrigated farmlands. The EPA’s requirement that we reduce phosphorus in surface water gets two articles; one on the regulations themselves, and the other article on Oconomowoc’s innovative approach to managing that pollutant. The DNR provides us with some general information about the amount of groundwater being withdrawn and we’ll focus on new technologies being used to manage municipal water systems.

In addition to our focus on water, Claire Silverman reviews the recent Milwaukee residency decision and there’s a short article about this year’s Annual Conference, arguably the best in recent history and one you definitely won’t want to miss. 

Watch the League's "Local Perspective" with guest Tom Steinbach, City of Oconomowoc Wastewater Treatment Utility Manager detailing how the city worked with partners in the watershed to improve phosphorus levels.  Thanks to Karen Huismann and her team at WatertownTV for producing the show for us!  

The League's September E-Muni provides supplemental resources on water issues as well as other information.
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August 2016

This month’s issue of the Municipality is packed with great information for and about Wisconsin’s small cities and villages. The League’s median member size municipality is 1,450, so there are a lot of small communities in Wisconsin. 

In this issue we debut the results of the League’s 1st Annual State of Wisconsin’s Cities and Villages Report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance as well as the results of a survey of Governance in municipalities with a population under 10,000.  In addition, Errin Welty details success stories in Wisconsin’s small downtowns and provides information on upcoming downtown forums.  We talk about broadband and Jerry tours the League’s smallest member municipality, Stockholm, population 66.  

Watch the League's inaugural "The Local Perspective", our new 1/2 hour talk show which will air on public access media throughout the state.  We'll highlight our monthly magazine theme. Thanks to Wisconsin Community Media for making this possible and specifically to Sun Prairie's Media Center for producing the first show in their studio.  Errin Welty, WEDC downtown expert was our first guest.  Watch the show here

You can read the August E-Muni with easy access to the resources provided in the magazine as well as some extras here.  

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July 2016

This month’s issue of 
The Municipality focuses on money. Specifically, we’ve assembled a variety of resources that you can use as you start to make your 2017 fiscal decisions. We’ve asked the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to explain their very simple and very affordable borrowing program for local government needs. The State of Wisconsin Investment Board gives an overview of Wisconsin’s public employee retirement system, which is one of the best-managed retirement systems in America. For spice, we’ve included an editorial from Tony Minghine, Deputy Director of the Michigan League of Municipalities on the “emergency management mentality” that led to the crisis in Flint and that (in Anthony’s opinion) threatens local governments across the country.  Among that diversity of options you’re sure to find one or two “fiscal nuggets” that will help your city or village.

Plus Claire Silverman, the League's Legal Counsel dissects the Drivers Privacy Protection Act and what it means for your municipality and also outlines how the FLSA Overtime Laws impact cities and villages.  

The League's July E-Muni provides you with direct links to the municipal financing resources highlighted in the magazine.
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June 2016 


We put out a call for pictures of new officials and received all of the great photographs featured on the front of the June edition of the Municipality.  Welcome to the almost 800 newly elected officials who joined the ranks with the April election. We posted everyone's picture in our Facebook album so that you can say congratulations. We feature Mayor Novak of Dodgeville, who is currently also a State Legislator and Mayor Kaufert of Neenah, who served as a State Legislator for 24 years.  "Leadership Habits of Highly Effective Governing Bodies" and "Working with the Media" provide resources for everyone in local government.  Curt Witynski takes on transportation funding and Eric Giordano tackles the issue of local control. 

In the League's June E-Muni, we provide one additional Media tip and more resources for all, not just new officials.


May 2016

Thanks to the strength of League lobbying by you, the local elected officials and staff, the 2015-16 Legislative Session turned out well for Wisconsin's cities and villages. The League's May magazine provides a full summary. In addition, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Mutual Insurance breaks down where the action is in municipal liability and Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP outlines prevention and detection of fraud. As an endnote, the Rhinelander Street Superintendent takes on potholes in a "Letter from the Street." 

The League's May E-Muni - Legislative Wrap-Up plus Liability & Fraud, Oh My!  

April Magazine Cover
April 2016
Transitions and the Creative Economy are the focus of the League’s April the Municipality.  Three retiring mayors share what they learned in their years in office and in addition, we reprinted an article featuring a retiring Madison alder entitled “Celebrating the Drama Free Public Servant.”  League Legal Counsel, Claire Silverman provides you with everything you need to know post April 5 election including “Oaths, Bonds, Vacancies and Organizational Meetings” and WEA Trust gives you the information you need if you are thinking of transitioning to another health plan.  In addition, we feature poems by several city poet laureates and an article by Arts Wisconsin Executive Director Anne Katz “So How Do You Do the Creative Economy Anyway? (Hint:  It’s a Process.)” 

The League's April E-Muni is a supplement to the print magazine and provides you with easy access to additional resources on the Creative Economy that we were not able to include in the magazine itself. 
March. 2016 Magazine
March 2016
Wisconsin is on the cutting edge of forestry practices, undertaking an inventory of both public and private trees across the state that will allow policymakers to plan for the long term.  Municipalities receive a payback for their investment in trees which can be quantified and includes increased property values and reduced stormwater costs.  Also, thanks to MSA Professional Services, park project planning is broken down into a five-step process that will help insure success and Daniel Olson, the League’s Assistant Legal Counsel takes on “Reducing the Legal Risks of Community Dog Parks.”   We also published “A Walk in the Park,” by artist Grant Snider. 

Adopt the Creative Economy ProclamationCreative Economy Proclamation (DOC) as seen in the March Magazine. 

The League's March E-Muni includes links to the Michigan Municipal League Resources and articles related to Jerry Deschane's column, "Lessons From Flint" as well as additional resources on the value of trees to cities and villages.