News and Notices – Fall 2016

Local Government Issues, Challenges and Strategies Teleconference Series

The Local Government Center is offering the following series of teleconferences on these issues:
Nov. 15, 2016:  Broadband in Rural Wisconsin:  Taking Steps Forward
Dec. 20, 2016:  Assessing and Addressing Local Service Needs
Jan. 17, 2017:  Fire and EMS Planning Amid Changing Demographics
Feb. 21, 2017:  Cybersecurity
Mar. 21, 2017:  Managing Public Records
Apr. 18, 2017:  Manure Management:  Issues for Local Officials
May 16, 2017:  Road and Transportation Funding
June 20, 2017:  Filling Our Shoes:  Where will the next generation of local officials come from?
July 18, 2017:  How to Use State Contracts for Local Government Purchasing
Each teleconference is 90 minutes long and will be held on the scheduled Tuesday morning starting at 10:00 am. To register online follow the link at or register by phone at
(608) 262-0810. Cost of participation (including a PDF of materials) is $20 per teleconference. For additional information on the programs please visit the Center’s website at or call the Local Government Center at (608) 262-9960.

2016 Fall Town and Village Workshops a Success

he UW-Extension’s Local Government Center, the Wis. Towns Association, and the Wis. Dept. of Revenue traveled the state in September to bring in-person instruction to nine  locations. The workshops were attended by over 600 local officials. Topics for board members included Connecting with the Public on Your Tough Issues, Bidding Basics, Closed Sessions–the Do’s and Don’ts; and topics for clerks and treasurers included Dept. of Revenue Update and Get the Answers to Your Questions with Carol Doran. Both sessions included Budget Basics and Legislative Update.
Watch for the next series of in-person workshops, the Town Officials Workshops in May 2017.

What Discourages People from Running for Office?

While LGC Specialists tend to stay focused on the basic programming that addresses the constant turnover in town, county, village and city officials in the state, we also try to stay on top of the cutting edge of issues and challenges facing local government. Over the past year or so the Center has been able to use some of its time on a study of political ambitions. A subset of this work focused on how these factors are different for women.
The preliminary results of this study identified four major reasons for choosing not to run. These findings have or will appear in the publications of Wisconsin’s three statewide local government associations. For more information about this study, please contact LGC Specialist Dan Hill at (608) 265-2852.

Bill Rizzo, Local Government Specialist, to retire

Dr. Bill Rizzo, Local Government Specialist with UW-Extension’s Local Government Center has announced his retirement, effective November 3rd, after almost 20 years of service. From 1997 to 2013, Dr. Rizzo served as a Community Resource Development Educator in the Dane County Extension Office. Bill joined the Local Government Center in 2013 to develop an educational program to help local officials statewide enhance their public engagement and civil discourse capabilities. Bill leaves Extension having helped hundreds of local public officeholders find new ways to reach and work with constituents to make local decisions more representative and sustainable.
Even with retirement approaching, Bill’s pace hasn’t slowed. He recently delivered workshops as part of the Door County Civility Project. Bill talked about the differences between politics and governance, how local officials and residents can engage with one another effectively, and how to develop a sound public engagement strategy to address difficult local issues.  Bill also presented at the 2016 Wis. Towns Association Conference in Stevens Point on October 10. Bill’s session, delivered twice, was entitled, “Managing Difficult Town Board Meetings.” Each session drew a packed house, indicating that tough, contentious issues can often present town officials with a challenging governance environment. Bill’s message addressed what local officials can do to manage such meeting environments‒‒collect good information for informed decision-making and help constituents more fully understand issues and their issue-related interests.
Bill’s future plans include traveling, hunting, fishing and continuing to promote effective public engagement in public life.

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