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Definitions, General Provisions, and Key to General Records Schedules


The purpose of this records retention schedule is to authorize destruction of county records pursuant to the schedule on an annual basis. Records custodians may destroy a record prior to the time set forth in the schedule only if such a record has been photographically reproduced as an original record or converted to optical disc format pursuant to s.16.61 (7) Wis. Stats.

Any record not covered by this ordinance or any regulation or law shall be retained 7 years unless the record is added by amendment into the ordinance and the shorter time period approved by the state Public Records Board.


"Legal Custodian" means the individual responsible for maintaining records pursuant to Section 19.33 Wis. Stats.

"Record" has the meaning defined in s.19.32 (2), Wis. Stats.

General Provisions

Historical Records-Notification to Wisconsin Historical Society

Under s. 19.21 (4)(a) counties must notify the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (SHSW) 60 days prior to destroying records. The SHSW has waived the required 60 day notice for any record designated "Waived" (notification requirement waived) in the retention schedule. The SHSW must be notified 60 days prior to destruction of any record designated with "Notify" (notification required). "N/A" indicates not applicable and applies to any record designated for permanent retention with the original custodian.

Notice to SHSW is also required prior to the destruction of any record not listed in this schedule.

Microfilming or Optical Imaging of Records

Local units of government may keep and preserve public records through the use of microfilm or optical imaging providing the microfilm or optical imaging meets applicable standards in sections 16.61 (7) (microfilm) and 16.612 (optical imaging) of the Wisconsin State Statutes. Retention periods and estimated costs and benefits of converting records between different media should be considered in deciding which records to microfilm or store in optical disc format. After verification and notification to the Wisconsin Historical Society, records converted to microfilm or optical imaging should be destroyed. The retention periods identified in this schedule apply to records in any media.

C. Destruction After Request for Inspection

No records requested under s. 19.35 Wis. Stats. may be destroyed until after the request is granted or 60 days after the request is denied. If any action is commenced under s. 19.37 Wis. Stats., the requested record may not be destroyed until after a court order is issued and all appeals have been completed. See s. 19.35 (5), Wis. Stats.

Destruction Pending Litigation

No record subject to pending litigation shall be destroyed until the litigation is resolved.

Review and Approval by Public Records Board

This schedule and the retention periods of less than 7 years have been reviewed and approved by the Public Records Board.


Retention Period: refers to the minimum time that a particular records series must be kept prior to destruction.

  • CR stands for creation which usually refers to receipt or creation of the record.
  • FIS stands for current fiscal year and the additional amount of time as indicated.
  • EVT stands for event and refers to an occurence that starts the retention "clock ticking." Close of contract, termination of employee, and disposition of a case are common events.
  • P stands for permanent retention.

Period of Time: The period of time a record must be kept is expressed in years unless specifically identified as months or days.

Authority: Refers to any specific statutory, administrative rule, or regulation that results in the retention of a record.

SHSW Notification: Refers to whether or not a county must notify the Wisconsin Historical Society of its intention to destroy records.

  • "Waived" means that the required notification has been waived.
  • "Notify" means that the notification by the local unit of government is required.
  • "N/A" means that the notification is not applicable because the records have been designated for permanent retention by the original custodian (in this case, the local unit of government).

Notice to the Society is required for any record not listed in this schedule.


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