Frequently Asked Questions


Dane County government administers many programs that you may use on a daily basis. Here are some facts, figures, and Q & As I frequently receive.

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How many supervisors are there in dane county?

There are currently 37 Supervisors in Dane County. Each District has about 13,000 residents. In the past, we've had up to 91 Supervisors!

what does the county board do?

The board is the policy making body of Dane County government. We set policy via resolutions, ordinances, and the budget process. We work closely with the County Executive (Joe Parisi) and department staff to ensure we're fully funding programs serving the most vulnerable in Dane County, protecting our environment, ensuring safety for all citizens, and maintaining critical infrastructure in Dane County.

What other county positions are elected?

In Spring non-partisan elections, we elect the County Board of Supervisors (2 year terms), the County Executive (4 year term), and the Circuit Court Judges (6 year terms). In Fall  partisan elections, we elect the Clerk of Court, County Clerk, Sheriff, Register of Deeds, Treasurer, and the District Attorney (4 year terms).

Where does Dane County funding come from?

There are quite a few different funding sources for Dane County programming, but below are the main ones. Here's a link to the Budget website.

  • Sales Tax - 11% 
  • County Property Tax Levy - 34%
  • Intergovernmental Revenues - 23%
  • Public Charges for Services - 14%
  • Intergovernmental Charges for Services - 14%

What does Dane County spend their money on?

Here are some numbers for the 2018 budget. Remember that you can always check the Budget website for detailed information. 43% of all expenditures go towards the Health & Human Services department. Public Safety & Criminal Justice is the next largest expenditure (including the jail, sheriff's department, and court system), and accounts for 21% of our spending.


What's the difference between Madison COmmon council and dane county board?

The County Board does not have authority over cities and villages, as they have their own local bodies (city councils or village boards). Thus, items like housing zoning and roads within the City of Madison are part of the Common Council (often known as the City Council), and are not under the purview of the County Board of Supervisors.

What gives counties authority?

Wisconsin State Statute Chapter 59 dictates County purview. If you're looking to get really in the weeds about the county's roles and responsibilities, you can read it here >>

What are some examples of programs that the Dane County Human Services Department administers?

  • Wisconsin Works (W-2) provides employment training services to low-income families looking for a job.

  • The Badger Prairie Health Care Center is a skilled nursing facility that cares for seniors 60+ with behavioral, psychiatric, or emotional barriers to living at home.

  • The Juvenile Justice division works to keep at-risk youth out of the formal court processes through Restorative Justice Models.