In a joint report to be delivered to the legislature and governor on September 1 the Wisconsin Land Information Board (WLIB) and the Wisconsin Land Council (WLC) are recommending that the September 1, 2005 sunset provision in current law be upheld – meaning both will cease operation on Sept. 1, 2005. The report, which contains a variety of other recommendations, some of which are listed below, was prepared in response to a requirement in the 2003 law establishing the current state budget. The law requires both organizations in the report to address “. . . continuation of their functions, including the feasibility of combination of their functions.”
Although the report recommends imposing the current sunset date on the WLIB and WLC, it also makes clear that preservation of the WLIB’s statutory charges is critical, as well as the continuation of the comprehensive planning grant program.
In 2002, the WLIB and WLC responded to an identical reporting requirement. In that report, which was prepared amidst much controversy, the WLC recommended that both it and the WLIB end, then combining the statutory duties of both into a single organization. The WLIB, on the other hand, recommended lifting the sunset provision on both, while preserving the independence of both. Those recommendations were similarly delivered to the legislature and governor. When current governor Jim Doyle took office in January 2003, and presented his state budget one month later, he recommended that the sunset date of both the WLIB and WLC be extended two years (to Sept. 1, 2005), and that both go through the same reporting requirement one year prior to the sunset date which is September 1 this year.
This year, in acknowledgment of the governor’s objective of reducing the size of government, including the elimination of boards and councils, both the WLIB and WLC voted unanimously to support the sunset provision. In a quite different approach to the one taken in 2002, leaders in the WI Dept. Of Administration (WI DOA) worked closely with the WI Land Information Association (WLIA) to forge recommendations dedicated to preserving the Land Information Program (WLIP), and comprehensive planning grants while at the same time recommending the removal of some of the administrative overhead for both.
Additional highlights contained in the report are:
Regarding the Land Information Program:
- Maintain the current recording fee structure – counties continue to retain $5 of each real estate related transaction, and continue to forward an additional $2 from each transaction to the WI DOA.
- Revise the Land Information Program budget (the funds sent to the WI DOA) to do the following:
- Ensure that the eligibility level for base budget grants to counties is raised to $50,000 annually.
- An annual amount is dedicated to fund comprehensive planning.
- An annual amount goes to WI DOA to administer the grants program.
- Any remaining annual balance be used for contribution based grants or strategic initiative grants.
Regarding the Land Council:
- Maintain the existing State Agency Resource Working Group, a state agency committee looking at land use activities, land use data needs, and opportunities to build better relationships across agencies.
- Maintain an adequately funded comprehensive planning grant program.
- Maintain relationships with interested stakeholders.
Regarding the WI Dept of Administration:
- Expand the scope of the WI DOA’s Technology Leadership Council (TLC) and Business Leadership Council (BLC) to include representation from the land information community. The TLC is an organization of state agency chief information officers and information directors. The BLC, with a broader membership, provides guidance to the TLC in managing information technology
- Appoint a Geographic Information Officer (GIO) within the agency to be an advocate for the WLIP and coordinate state agency GIS efforts. The GIO is envisioned to have a wide variety of duties including serving as a member of the agency’s BLC and TLC.
- Create an appropriate committee or council (through the DOA Secretary) to offer advice on land information issues.
Regarding the State Cartographer:
- Expand the current role to assist the WLIP by providing a data repository and data access.
- Coordinate with and assist the GIO.
- Serve as administrator of the annual WLIP survey, and updates to local plans.
- Serve as a member of the BLC and TLC.
This report, which should be posted on the WI DOA website soon, will be sent to the legislature and governor to fulfill the reporting requirement of both organizations. To what degree the report’s recommendations will be accepted and potentially incorporated into the governor’s next budget document, which will be unveiled in early 2005, remains unclear at this point. In the interim, the WLIA will continue to work with the administration and WI DOA to ensure that the individual provisions and overall intent of the report are carried forward.