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(1) Declaration of Policy and Intent. It is the intent of the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors to enact legislation in compliance with sections 19.31 through 19.39 of the Wisconsin Statutes and all other provisions of state statutes relative to public records. In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the public policy of this county that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them. Further, providing persons with such information is declared to be an essential function of our representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of officers and employees whose responsibility it is to provide such information.

(2) Presumption. Destruction of public records shall be completed only in accordance with those procedures authorized by law. This section shall be construed in every instance with a presumption of complete public access consistent with the conduct of governmental business. The denial of public access generally is contrary to the public interest and only in an exceptional case may access be denied.

(3) Scope. The scope of this ordinance covers all records as hereinafter defined, including those made prior to the existence of this ordinance and still available to the general public. It is the intent of the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors that this ordinance relate to all internal memoranda which may not be otherwise excepted by law as well as all materials and records as hereinafter defined which may have originated from sources other than Kenosha County or its officers or employees and which may not otherwise be excepted by law.

(4) Definitions.

(a) Authority. Authority means any of the following having custody of a record: a county office, elected or appointed officials, agency, board, commission, committee, council, department or public body corporate and politic, created by law or ordinance, rule or order of Kenosha County; any quasi-governmental corporation; any court of law; the county board of supervisors; non-profit corporations which receive more than 50% of its funds from the county and which provide services related to public health or safety to the county; or a formally constituted sub-unit of any of the foregoing.

(b) Confidential. A matter is deemed confidential if it falls within the scope of any matter which may properly be discussed in a closed session of any public meeting pursuant to the provisions of section 19.85 of the Wisconsin Statutes or has been deemed confidential pursuant to state statutes or court order.

(c) Legal Custodian. Legal custodian is that person vested by an authority with the full legal power to render decisions and carry out the duties of the authority under this ordinance. No legal custodian shall be responsible for the records of another legal custodian unless he or she has possession of the records of such other custodian.

1. In an elective office, the elected official is the legal custodian of his or her records and the records of his or her office unless said official has designated by posting in accordance with section (7) of this ordinance an employee of his or her staff to act as the legal custodian.

2. In the case of a committee of elected officials, the chairperson or his designee appointed in accordance with section (7) of this ordinance is the legal custodian of the records of the committee.

3. In the case of a joint committee of elected officials, the co-chairpersons or their designees, appointed in accordance with section (7) of this ordinance, is the legal custodian of the records of the joint committee.

4. In the case of a board or commission, the chairperson of the board or commission or their designee, appointed in accordance with section (7) of this ordinance, shall be the legal custodian of the records of the board or commission.

5. In the case of an agency or department or of a non-profit corporation receiving more than 50% of its funds from the county and which provides services related to public health or safety to the county, the agency or department head or highest ranking officer and chief administrative officer or their designees, appointed in accordance with section (7) of this ordinance, shall be the legal custodian of the records of the agency, department or non-profit corporation.

(d) Personal Material. Personal material is any record or part thereof which contains only those communications which are totally unrelated to the affairs of government.

(e) Record. Record means any material on which written, drawn, printed, spoken, visual or electromagnetic information is recorded or preserved, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which has been created or is being kept by an authority. “Record” includes, but is not limited to, handwritten, typed or printed pages, maps, charts, photographs, films, recordings, tapes, (including computer tapes), and computer print-outs. “Record” does not include drafts, notes, preliminary computations and like materials prepared for the originator’s personal use or prepared by the originator in the name of a person for whom the originator is working; materials which are purely the personal property of the custodian and have no relation to his or her office; materials to which access is limited by copyright, patent or bequest; and published materials in the possession of an authority other than a public library which are available for sale or which are available for inspection at a public library.

(f) Requester. Requester means any person who requests inspection or copies of a record.

(g) Search. Any activity involving locating at any one time a record or related or unrelated records made at the request of a requester. A search is deemed to involve a minimum of five minutes time.

(h) Timely Access. Access to records for purposes of inspection or copying within a reasonable time after the request has been made, taking into consideration other responsibilities of the office, personnel limitations, and the nature and quantity of the request. Where access cannot be granted within five business days of the request, the requester shall be so informed in writing along with the date by which the information shall be provided, the reason for the delay, and the requester’s right to appeal the delay.

(5) Alternate Custodian of Public Records. For purposes of this ordinance, all legal custodians, with the exception of county board supervisors, shall designate an alternate legal custodian who shall act in the absence of the legal custodian.

(6) Responsibility of Custodian.

(a) Access. It is the responsibility of the custodian to insure timely, complete and full access of all records in accordance with this ordinance and Wisconsin Statutes sections 19.31 to 19.39. To this end, he shall insure that all records as heretofore defined are properly maintained in accordance with section 59.71(2), section 889.30 and section 990.01(36) of the Wisconsin Statutes, managed, indexed and filed so as to provide for access in accordance with sections 19.31 through 19.39 of the Wisconsin Statutes. If, however, a record of an authority is occasionally taken to a location other than the location where such records are regularly kept and such records may be inspected at such place as they are regularly kept upon one business day’s notice, access need not be provided at the occasional location. In the event access is denied, the legal custodian shall notify the requester of the denial, in whole or in part, the reasons therefore, and the right of the requester to appeal.

(b) Security. The custodian of such public records shall be responsible for establishing a security system to insure the preservation of such records, and where deemed necessary, to provide for duplicate copies which may be certified upon request by said custodian as being an accurate and complete representation of the original record in the event that the original record is misplaced or lost. The custodian shall establish such rules and regulations as deemed necessary and appropriate and not inconsistent with state statutes to insure that such documents and records in his possession remain in his possession and unaltered or damaged. The custodian shall cooperate with the Director of Emergency Government with respect to establishing a plan for the preservation of public records in the event of an emergency.

(c) Erroneous Records. It is the responsibility of the custodian to insure that any erroneous information inadvertently given to a requester be corrected as soon as the custodian is made aware of the fact that such misinformation has been given.

(d) Editing. The custodian is responsible for editing all such records to insure that no part of the record which is properly confidential is made public, either directly or indirectly.

(e) Delivery of Records. The custodian has a responsibility to deliver all public records to his successor in accordance with state statutes.

(f) Certification. The legal custodian shall certify copies as required by law and pursuant to section 889.08 and with respect to certification of non-filing pursuant to section 889.09 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

(g) Destruction of Public Records. Records, except as hereinafter noted, may be destroyed only in accordance with section 59.715, 59.716 and 59.717 of the Wisconsin Statutes or in accordance with the provisions of these state statutes or state administrative rules outlining the procedure for destroying specific records. Where no state statute or administrative rule exists, the custodian shall use those procedures established in accordance with section 3.645 of the Municipal Code of Kenosha County. Records may not, however, be destroyed at anytime after the receipt or request for inspection or copying until after the request is granted or until at least 60 days after the date that the request is denied. If an action is commenced under section 19.37 of the Wisconsin Statutes, the requested record may not be destroyed until after the order of the Court in relation to such record is issued and the deadline for appealing that order is passed or if appealed, until after the order of the Court hearing the appeal is issued. If the Court orders the production of any record and the order is not appealed, the requested record may not be destroyed until after the request for inspection or copying is granted. A record shall be kept by the legal custodian of all destroyed records.

(7) Notice and Form. Each legal custodian as defined herein, with the exception of the county board of supervisors, shall permanently display and make available for inspection and copying at its office for the guidance of the public, the following notice, each section of which shall be deemed to have been so ordained as such by the county board:



(Name of Department, Committee, Commission, Etc.)

1. Under Wisconsin Statutes section 19.35(1), a copy of which may be obtained from the legal custodian, members of the public have certain rights to access to public records. These rights include the right to inspect any record as defined herein, to photocopy said record or obtain a legible or audible copy of any tape or video recording and the right to photograph a record, the form of which does not permit copying. A member of the public need not identify himself or herself or state the purpose of the request in order to inspect or copy a record.

2. Exceptions. The public’s right to access to public records may be limited according to law in certain circumstances where the material is deemed confidential; where the material is not classified as such as a public record in accordance with section 3.64(4)(e) of this ordinance. In addition, the public’s right to access is limited pursuant to the provision of section 19.36 of the Wisconsin Statutes, a copy of which law may be obtained from the legal custodian, which permits withholding information in certain circumstances relating to the application of other laws, law enforcement records, contractor’s records, computer programs and data, and trade secrets.

Substantive common law principals construing the right to inspect or copy apply, i.e., upon certain findings of fact, it may be determined that the harm to the public interest resulting from disclosure would outweigh the public interest in full access to the requested record.

The provisions of the Wisconsin Public Records Law do not apply to a record which has been or will be promptly published with copies offered for sale or distribution. In addition, the county is not required to create a new record by means of extracting information from existing records and compiling the information in a new format.

3. This office has been designated by the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors as a county department and as such a depository for certain public records and is charged with those responsibilities set forth in section ________ of the Wisconsin Statutes including, but not limited to:






4. The undersigned legal custodian is responsible for insuring compliance with section 19.31 through 19.39 of the Wisconsin Statutes and sections 3.64 and 3.645 of the Municipal Code of Kenosha County so as to insure that the public may obtain information and access to records in his custody for purposes of inspection or copying. The legal custodian may make such reasonable rules not inconsistent with state statutes as deemed necessary to insure that records are not stolen, misplaced or damaged. The legal custodian for this office has established the following rules: (eg., specificity, public handling, use, time requirements, cost estimates, prepayment, removal, excess costs, non-payment on account, and reasonable limitations as to subject matter or length of time represented by the record):






5. The legal custodian for this office is ___________________________; his designee is __________________________(position); and in the event of the absence of either the legal custodian or his designee, the alternate legal custodian is __________________________ (position).

6. Records for this office may be obtained in the following location:


7.* Records may be obtained in this office during normal office hours between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, unless otherwise specifically authorized by law.

7.* Because this office does not maintain regular office hours at the location where records are kept, access is permitted to records upon at least 48 hours written or oral notice of intent to inspect or copy a record.

7.* Because this office does not maintain regular office hours at the location where records are kept, access to records is permitted during the following two consecutive hours on the following days: ______________________________________________________________________. Twenty-four hours advance written or oral notice to inspect or copy a record is required.

8. Facilities. The following facilities which are available to the employees of this department, committee or commission are available to the public to obtain information and access and to make requests for records or obtaining copies of records, inspecting such records and abstracting of records during office hours as established above. This department, committee or commission is not required to purchase or lease photocopying, duplicating, photographic, video, sound duplicating or other equipment or to provide a separate room for such inspection or copying of records.

9. Fee Schedule. The following costs and fees shall be collected by the legal custodian and are imposed to cover the copying of records:

Search. Prior to searching for or locating any record, an estimate shall be given as to the actual, necessary and direct costs involved in locating the record being requested. No charge will be made for the first $50 incurred in locating the record or records, exclusive of copying, being requested by an individual requester. Any charge over $50 will result in first dollar liability. A search for a record shall be deemed to incur a minimum of five minutes time. The actual, necessary and direct costs for locating records is to be calculated on the basis of $______ per hour, said costs taking into account all related personnel costs and equipment time.

Reproduction Costs. (actual, necessary and direct costs)

Personnel Cost

Equipment Cost



Photocopying /

Copy Machine ________

Paper $_______/sheet


Audio Tapes /

Recorder ____________

Tape $________/tape


Video Tapes /

Recorder ____________

Tape $________/tape


Microfiche /

Microfilm reader and copier _________



Photograph /

Camera and developer __________

Film + actual developing costs _________


Computer Data /

Computer Time __________

Paper $ _______/printout


Certification. Certified copies of records may be obtained from the legal custodian at the cost of $______ per certificate unless such other cost is specified by law.

Mailing and Shipping. Mailing or shipping costs shall be assessed to the requester at the rate of the actual, necessary and direct costs involved in mailing or shipping a copy or photograph.

Prepayment. All mailing and shipping costs and search or reproduction fee in excess of $5.00 shall be paid in advance to the legal custodian and properly accounted for by said custodian. An itemized statement shall be presented to the requester of the actual, necessary and direct costs.

The legal custodian may deem, with the approval of the county board, that certain records be distributed free of charge to the general public. Pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes section 59.71(1), the books, records, papers and accounts of the county board shall be deposited with the county clerk and shall be open without any charge to the examination of all persons. Pursuant to section 19.25 of the Wisconsin Statutes, no fee shall be charged to state officers requiring a search or copy of any county record.

20. Denials and Appeals. In the event that you are denied access to records, in whole or in part, you are entitled to know the reason for the denial. If a request is made orally, the decision to deny access may be made orally unless a demand for the written statement of the reasons for the denial is made within five business days of the oral denial.

If the custodian denies a written request in whole or in part, he shall receive from the custodian a written statement of the reasons for denying the request. Every written denial of a request by a custodian shall inform the person making the request that if the request for the record was made in writing, then the denial is subject to review upon a petition for a writ of mandamus under section 19.37(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes or upon application to the attorney general or district attorney.

You may appeal the decision of the legal custodian to deny records pursuant to the provisions of this municipal code relating to administrative appeals. In the alternative, you may seek advice from the attorney general as to the applicability of the Wisconsin Public Records Law under any circumstance. The attorney general may be contacted by writing to: State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin 53702. In addition, you may furthermore, in the event of a delay in obtaining records or in the event of denial of access to records after a written request for disclosure is made, have the following remedies for purposes of reviewing the action of the legal custodian and obtaining compliance:

a. The requester may bring an action for mandamus asking a court to order release of the record. The court may permit the parties or their attorneys to have access to the requested record under restrictions or protective orders as the court deems appropriate, and/or

b. The requester may, in writing, request the district attorney of the county where the record is found, or request the attorney general, to bring an action for mandamus asking a court to order release of the record to the requester. The district attorney or attorney general may bring such an action.

Costs, fees and damages may be awarded in accordance with Wisconsin Statutes sections 19.37(2), (3) and (4).

11. Stolen, Concealed, Misplaced, Damages or Altered Records. In the event that any record inspected or copied, is taken without permission, intentionally concealed, damaged, or improperly altered by a member of the public, he or she may be guilty of a Class C Felony pursuant to section 943.38(1) or a Class D Felony pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes section 946.72(1). In the event that a member of the public negligently misplaces or damages such record, he may be held liable for all consequent damages including costs of replacement.


Legal Custodian




Alternate Legal Custodian

7* -- strike two

(8) Enforcement. Notwithstanding any other provision of the Municipal Code of Kenosha County, enforcement of this ordinance and costs, fees, damages and penalties awarded in conjunction with enforcement of this ordinance shall be limited exclusively to those provisions made in Wisconsin Statutes section 19.37(1) to (4).

(9) Amendments and Repeal. It is the intent of the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors that all amendments to section 19.31 through 19.39 of the Wisconsin Statutes be incorporated by reference as of the time that such amendment to the state statute takes effect.

(10) Severability, Prior Rules, Repeal, Effective Date and Publication.

(a) If any provisions of this ordinance are invalid or unconstitutional, or in conflict with the Wisconsin Statutes, or if the application of this ordinance and these rules or ordinance is invalid or unconstitutional or conflicting, said provision shall not affect the provisions or application of this ordinance which can be given effect without the invalid or unconstitutional provision.

(b) All ordinances or resolutions or parts thereof in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.

(c) This ordinance shall take effect upon passage and publication as provided by law.

(d) The Corporation Counsel shall, with the assistance of IT and/or any other appropriate County departments, divisions, or offices, undertake a review of fees charged for copies in order to ensure that they reflect the “actual, necessary and direct costs” as provided by law. Such review shall occur three years after the effective date of this provision, following its passage and publication, and then every three years thereafter. Upon its completion, the findings of the review shall be shared with the County Board Chair and the County Executive who shall, with the assistance of the Corporation Counsel, determine what, if any, further action or notification is needed. (8/6/19). [Code § 3.64, 2018.]