Salaries FAQ 4
Can fringe benefits be initially given to officials or increased during an official's term without violating the prohibition against increasing salary during an official's term?
Yes. Although sec. 66.0505 of the Wisconsin statutes prohibits an elected municipal official who is entitled to participate in the establishment of the salary attending his or her office from collecting salary in excess of the salary provided at his or her time of taking office, fringe benefits are not considered salary. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has defined the term "salary" as a "fixed, periodical compensation paid for services rendered...." Geyso v. Cudahy, 34 Wis.2d 476, 483, 149 N.W.2d 611 (1967). The term "salary" does not include "fringe benefits." State ex rel. Manitowoc v. Police Pension Board, 56 Wis.2d 602, 203 N.W.2d 74 (1973); 70 Op. Att'y. Gen. 266 (1981). Thus, retirement and insurance benefit increases are not considered salary. 2009 Wis. Act 173, which amended secs. 61.193 and 62..06(6) to prohibit “compensation” from being changed after the deadline for filing nomination papers for the office, defined “compensation” as “”a salary, a per diem compensation for each day or part of a day necessarily devoted to the service of the [city or village] and the discharge of duties, or a combination of salary and per diem compensation.” The authority for municipalities to pay premiums for hospital, surgical and other health and accident insurance and life insurance for employees and officers and their spouses and dependent children is found in sec. 66.0137(5) of the statute. (reviewed 1/28/14)