City Cast

Understanding Dane County Government

Abby Becker
Posted on September 10   |   Updated on September 12
Photo by Hayley Sperling

Photo by Hayley Sperling

Dane County has its own local government that is different from the City of Madison. Dane County is governed by a county executive and a Board of Supervisors with 37 members representing an individual district in the county. Supervisors elect their peers to serve leadership roles, including chair, two vice-chairs and two sergeants-at-arms.

Supervisor districts are drawn every 10 years following the federal census. For the first time in 2021, Dane County used a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw new voting boundaries. Find your district and supervisor here.

Dane County-elected leaders oversee the jail, Henry Vilas Zoo, Dane County Regional Airport, Alliant Energy Center, and landfill and lake management, for example.

Similar to Madison’s local government, the full-time executive serves for a four-year term while part-time supervisors serve for two. The county executive currently earns $138,271 per year, which will increase to $142,420 on April 18. Board supervisors currently earn an annual salary of $11,227, which will increase to $11,423.47 on April 18.

Supervisors also earn $30 for attending certain meetings. Supervisors who serve as standing committee (with the exception of Executive Committee) chairs or on the Extension Committee and Land Conservation Committee may receive an additional $100 per month. The chair of the county board earns an annual salary of $53,045 in lieu of additional compensation, which will increase to $53,973.29 on April 18.

Get involved and stay informed

Like Madison, Dane County has dozens of boards and commissions. Residents interested in getting involved by serving on a committee can apply here.

Dane County’s legislative information center includes calendars, agendas and meeting minutes. This guide provides directions for how to use the system to access the platform’s functions while this one details how to attend hybrid meetings.

For more information on the legislative process, check out this guide and video. This video details the budget process.

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