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The Local Government Institute of Wisconsin announced today it was starting a 9 month study of the likely scenarios that could play out for local governments over the next 20 years. As we know, recent demographic, economic and political trends are making it more difficult for local governments to operate in a way that is both fiscally sustainable and provides the expected level of services to residents.

Over the next decade, many of these trends will deepen and Wisconsin will face additional demographic and economic pressure as the state's population ages and the support ratio (the number of working citizens supporting each retiree) falls.

  • Between 2010 and 2040 in Wisconsin the population of children ages 0 - 17 will fall from 23% in 2010 to 21% in 2040.
  • The working age population (ages 18 - 64) will fall from 63% in 2010 to 55% in 2040.
  • The retiree population aged 65 & over will increase from 14% in 2010 to 24% in 2040.
  • The dramatic increase in the older population is driving increased Medicaid spending which is competing with shared revenues and other aids.
  • Less than half of the counties and municipalities in the state are expected to see any population growth over the next 20 years with most expecting no growth or even population decline.
  • Many small cities in the state are experiencing low economic dynamism which is expected to continue - at least for the next several years, and likely longer.

How will local governments fare in the face of these and other changes? What can be done now to secure better outcomes for more Wisconsinites? This project, The Future of Local Government in Wisconsin, uses strategic foresight to predict possible future scenarios for the state, and identify possible solutions, to ensure that Wisconsin works well for all of our citizens. LGI will be working with Next Generation Consulting who will prepare a STEEP (Society, Technology, Economy, Environment, and Politics) trend analysis, facilitate a Delphi panel of experts with an informed perspective on local government and prepare a report with recommendations for impacting the future.

How Can You Help?

There will be several opportunities for those who follow the LGI to be involved. The first opportunity will be a survey of local elected officials which will occur in March. Another opportunity will be a full-day workshop on June 28th in Stevens Point (save the date!). Stay tuned for further details about both. Finally, if you are a supporter of local government and can help us spread the word about this project, please download and send our press release to your local media and offer to provide comments on the pressures you are facing within your local government. Contact either the LGI or your affiliated local government association if you need talking points. The press release may be found here.

Our Partners
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
Wisconsin Counties Association
Wisconsin Towns Association
Urban Alliance
Wisconsin City County Management Association
Wisconsin Rural Partners

Upcoming Events
Delphi Panel (invitation only) - March
Survey of Local Elected Officials - March
Future of Wisconsin Local Government Workshop - June 28th, Stevens Point
Fall Conference Presentations - Nov.

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