Town of Spencer, Marathon County, WI


Where can I get my questions answered relating to the Town of Spencer government?

Since you are on our website, we hope many of your questions will be answered here. We also currently publish a Spencer newsletter annually. 

Where do I vote? 

Registration is now required prior to voting, which can be done at the Polls on Election Day.  This can also be accomplished at the town clerk’s office by appointment prior to the election date. Bring two forms of identification that show your current address. Once you have registered, this will be maintained as long as you vote on a regular basis.

Where do I register to vote?

Registration is now required prior to voting. This can be accomplished at the town clerk’s office anytime prior to the election date. Bring two forms of identification that show your current address. Once you have registered, this will be maintained as long as you vote on a regular basis.  

Can I vote by absentee ballot?

Any qualified elector who is unable to appear at the polling place on Election Day may request to vote using an absentee ballot. A qualified U.S. citizen, who is 18 years of age or older on Election Day, must have resided in the municipality where he or she wishes to vote for at least 10 days before the election. The voter must be registered with the town clerk’s office or have voted in a prior town election to be considered registered.

Contact our town clerk and request that an application be sent to you for the stated election. You may also request an absentee ballot by letter. Your written request must contain your voting address within the municipality where you wish to vote, and the address where the absentee ballot should be sent, if different, and your signature.

Special absentee voting application provisions apply to electors who are indefinitely confined to home or a care facility, in the military, hospitalized, or serving as a sequestered juror. If this applies to you contact the town clerk

You can also personally go to the town clerk’s office, complete a written application, and vote an absentee ballot. It is recommended you call and make an appointment with the clerk. (Dennis Gonnering 715-659-4054) or email

Ballots by mail can be requested after the third Monday before Election. The deadline for receiving by mail or email to vote by absentee ballot is 5 p.m. the Thursday prior to the election. The deadline for voting absentee ballot in person in the clerk’s office is 5 p.m. the Friday prior to the election. All absentee ballots must be returned to the town clerk so that the clerk can deliver them to the proper polling place before the polls close the day of the election. Any ballot received after the polls are closed will not be counted.

How and where can I pay my taxes?

Tax payments can be made to the Town Treasurer at the Spencer Town Hall.
 at specified times.   Otherwise by mail or at treasurer’s home with a phone call prior to coming.
Dates to be posted in the Treasurer’s Corner on this website during tax season.
Payments may also be mailed to:
Town of Spencer Treasurer
104771 Karau Ave,
Marshfield WI 54449

Make checks payable to Town of Spencer and please include the payment stub for all parcels, not the entire tax bill. If you want your tax bill credited to the year if which you received it, it must be postmarked by December 31.  If you make an overpayment of your taxes (i.e. escrow account check), the Town Board will authorize your refund at the next months board meeting.

When and where are town meetings held and can I attend?

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend all town meetings. A general list of regularly scheduled meetings is included on this website in the section on government. Agendas are posted at the town hall and on the Spencer website for your convenience. This website however is not yet a legally required posting location.

Building Permits and Zoning

I am considering buying land in the Town of Spencer to build a home. How do I proceed?

Contact our Marathon Co. Deputy Zoning Administrator. Usually the place to start is with your plumber.  He will do the testing and submit the report to the county.  When that is received back a building permit can be applied for.  You may also call the County Planning and Zoning Department at 715-261-6020.

I plan to remodel my home. Do I need a building permit? 

Yes for most improvements you will need a building permit.  Anything that takes up land space requires a building permit.  (This includes decks, garden sheds, outdoor furnaces, etc.)   For further information, please contact Deputy Zoning Administrator or the Marathon County Planning and Zoning Department at 715-261-6020

I plan to reshingle and / or reside my home. Do I need a building permit?

You do not require a permit for replacing a roof unless the pitch is being changed.  This is considered maintenance.  Generally siding is considered maintenance as well.  Call the Deputy Zoning Administrator for further information.

Where and how do I get a building permit?

Contact the township's Marathon County Deputy Zoning Administrator. Contact information can be found in the "Town Officials" section of the website.


Driveway culverts are the homeowners responsibility
Minimum 75’ from neighbor’s boundary unless granted a variance
Minimum 20’ length, however, we recommend 24 to 30”
Diameter of culvert must be approved by the Town Rural Living

How do I obtain emergency services?

Dial 911!! Your call is sent to Wausau and the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department dispatch center. Remember in all emergency situations the information you give is essential to the response that will occur. Be sure to fully explain the emergency assistance needed to the dispatcher. Give your fire number (104771 Karau Ave) (It may be helpful to tell the dispatcher that you are calling from the Town of Spencer.) Stay on the line if possible when making a 911 call. Sometimes additional information or directions are needed.

In the case of a medical emergency the Spencer Ambulance is dispatched along with the Spencer First Responders. There will be a charge for the ambulance service.

In the case of a fire, the Spencer Volunteer Fire Department will respond from our fire station in the Village of Spencer.  The resident will be billed up to $1,000.00 for any fire call.

If a police officer is needed, the dispatch center will send a Marathon County sheriff’s officer. There may be a delay as often only 5 officers are on duty. These officers cover a 30 mile by 70 mile county. There may only be one officer in the SW part of Marathon County. Mutual aid response from the Village of Stratford, Spencer or other law enforcement agencies may occur.

What is a fire number?

It is that blue sign with white lettering (i.e. 104771) on the right side of your driveway as you enter. This sign must be kept in the location the fire department has placed it. If you do not have a sign with your number, call the town clerk immediately! Your safety depends on it. If the sign has been moved or removed, it must be replaced. The sign is located in a standardized place where emergency responders can easily locate it day or night. House numbers are often not visible, especially at night. Having these signs in a consistent place is essential. .

When I dial 911, what information should I give the dispatcher?

Do not use the non emergency number to request help in an emergency. Dial 911!
Accurate, concise information is essential when 911 is called. What you say is as important as the call itself.

·         1.  Stay calm! Speak slowly and clearly.

·         2.  Give the name, fire number, and full address. (Example: S679 Karau Ave)

It may be helpful to say “in the Town of Spencer.” Also identify who is making the call.

·         3.  For fire calls say what has happened, type of structure fire, and any pertinent information. (For example: There are people inside. The house is full of smoke. The second story is engulfed.)

·         4.   For auto accidents give the exact location of the accident in relationship to your fire number. If calling from a cell phone, give a location as close as possible to any known land mark. (For example: The accident is on County F, 1/2 mile south of Highway C) or use a resident’s fire number. Tell what has happened, the number of autos involved, the type and number of injuries. STAY ON THE LINE!

·         5.   For medical emergencies say what has happened. Give your full address and fire number. Tell the dispatcher any pertinent medical information. (For example: The individual is not breathing.) STAY ON THE LINE!

·         6.   If at all possible, stay on the line so additional information can be obtained if needed. The information you give will determine the type of equipment and personnel dispatched. In these situations it is essential that the caller stay on the line, giving additional information and directions until the emergency response team arrives.

Where do I get rid of my garbage? Do we recycle?

Weekly garbage and every other week recycling service with a cart is available through our township. If you do not have one, contact the Town Clerk.   The schedule is included in this website.

How and what do we recycle?

Place your recycling in the containers and set them at the end of your driveway the night before your scheduled pickup time. In some areas of the town, pickup can begin before 6 AM.
·         Recycle aluminum cans, glass containers (clean without cap), clean plastic bottles and containers marked #1 (PET or PETE) or # 2 (HDPE), and tin cans (clean with labels removed if convenient), corrugated cardboard, mixed papers, and newspapers.  A word of caution. Be careful not to include sensitive personal information in recycled paper unless shredded.

Can I open burn in Spencer?

Obtain a burning permit for all open burning. 3’ campfire or cooking fire is exempt.  If you are burning without a permit and the fire department is called by a concerned passerby you will be billed for all fire response costs.  If the fire should get away from your control, you are liable for all fire department costs and any damage caused by the fire even if you have a permit.

A burning permit is required to burn brush, grass or other clean materials. Please contact the town Chairman for authorization. By ordinance all open burning shall be performed in a safe pollution free manner, when wind and weather conditions allow burning without adverse affects. Open burning shall not be used to burn refuse, garbage, plastic, construction debris or other prohibited materials. The materials being burned shall be at least 50 feet away from any structure unless in an approved burning device, then at least 15 feet from any structure. No burning is allowed on the public right-of -way. Please be considerate of your neighbors when burning any material. Be aware of wind direction and conditions when burning. During dry conditions be sure to check if burning bans are in effect. Open burning (not in a container) is restricted much of the year.

Does the township offer snow removal or other services for private drives?

·         No, the Town of Spencer will not remove snow from private drives except in an emergency, nor does it do any other type of driveway service for individuals.

·         Keeping town roads open and maintained fully utilizes our men and equipment.

·         The small size of most driveways makes efficient use of our large highway equipment impractical.

·         Our large equipment is not maneuverable in small private drives.

·         There is potential liability for damage to residential properties and increased risk of damage to town equipment.

·          A municipality should not be in competition with private snow removal operators or other construction companies.

Does my dog require a license?

Dog Licenses will be issued by the Treasurer during tax collection hours. Please bring a copy of the current Rabies Vaccination Certificate for each dog you will be licensing. No license will be issued without the certificate. All dogs must be licensed by April 1 or a late fee of $5.00 per dog will be charged. Licenses may also be obtained by Mail from your Town treasurer.

The needed forms to apply for a license are enclosed with your taxes each year and available on this website.  Before a license can be issued, you must furnish a current rabies vaccination certificate. After April 1, a late fee will be charged for dog licenses issued. Money collected from dog licenses is sent to Marathon County.

I have found a stray or abandoned animal. What should I do?

Dogs at Large: Please call Animal Control at 715-659-4518, or contact a town official.

My pet is lost. What should I do?

·         Dogs at Large: Please call Dog Licensing at 715-384-2774 or any town official.

My neighbor wants me to fence my property? Do I have to do this? Who is responsible for the cost?

In residential areas fencing is at the discretion of the neighbors. If all parties agree that no fence is needed, this is okay. Should an adjacent landowner demand a fence, one must be provided under state law. The landowner is responsible for that half of the fence to his right when facing the fence from his land. The fence construction is as agreed upon by the landowners or, if they cannot agree, it reverts to the state statute. This dictates a 5 wire fence. This sometimes is an issue when a homeowner’s land is adjacent to an operational farm. Again it can be whatever all parties can agree upon.

The ditches in my area have a lot of stuff (cans, bottles, tires, and a refrigerator) in them. What can be done?

We encourage our residents to take pride in their neighborhood. Some areas have even organized a cleanup day.  If you find bags of garbage dumped, notify the town. Often names and addresses are included and we do notify the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department. Individuals responsible for littering are cited!

During the winter the snowplow pushed large amounts of gravel on my lawn. What can be done?

Town right-of-way extends to the inside of the ditch line. Many residents choose to maintain the ditch as part of their lawn. This is acceptable as long as the ditch is not filled in and water flow obstructed. It is impossible not to push gravel off our roads during the winter. If you choose to maintain the town ditch as lawn, you may remove the gravel from the ditch so you can mow your lawn. It is illegal for a resident to plant shrubs or place stone, concrete or other materials in town ditches. This could result in drainage problems or cause damage to our equipment.

Why are Spencer’s rural roads rough and dusty?

Gravel roads were originally constructed when speeds on side roads were under 45 MPH. Past generations were pleased to just get through to their homes. By nature the surface of these roads decomposes rapidly and dust and pot holes result. Increased traffic especially at high speeds accelerates this process. The roads can be graded, but that decreases the effectiveness of the chloride placed on the road for dust control. Smoother roads and dry material lead to increased speeds and a significant dust problem. Residents will need to choose. Dust and rapidly changing road conditions are unfortunately a reality of rural living. Over the years some township roads were blacktopped.  Some additional roads are projected for blacktopping. The availability of tax dollars for additional blacktopping may be limited in the future and this will, of course, determine when additional hard surfacing can be done.

Why are all the roads in the township not blacktopped?

Cost is a major factor. At as much as $150,000 a mile for road preparation and blacktopping, a major burden is placed on our taxpayers. The current increase in oil prices has led to significant increases in blacktopping costs. (Petroleum is a major component n blacktop).  Soil in many areas such as Wisconsin Rapids is sandy unlike our heavy clay soils. There, the frost has less impact on the road bed and thus the blacktop. Drainage is much less of an issue and less base (aggregate) is needed. Even in townships like Rock or Lincoln, to our south near Marshfield, much less road base preparation is required than here in Spencer with our clay soils. Thus, it is much more expensive for us to properly prepare and blacktop a mile of roadway.

If I see a dangerous situation on a township road, what should I do?

If you discover a potentially dangerous situation on our roads, notify the town chairman or any town official. If you see someone consistently speeding or not stopping for a stop sign please call the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department (715-261-1430). Give them the time of day it is occurring and as much information as possible about the violator.

Can I use the Marshfield Public Library?

Not without cost, but the Village of Spencer has a nice library for your use.                                                                 

How do I reserve the Town Hall?

Contact the town clerk (715-659-4054). He will explain the reservation procedure and fee information. Rent is $50 per day.  Non profit organizations can use the townhall without a fee at the town board discretion.

I live near the McMillan Wildlife Area. Can I go into this area?

Yes. The McMillan Wildlife Area is made up of over 2,000 acres. This is a state, public hunting and recreation area. There are hiking and biking trails within the area sponsored and maintained by the Friends of the Mead McMillan Wildlife Association. The trails can be accessed off Mann Road. There are parking lots available at these locations. These trails are open from May 1 until September 1.  Some of the marsh is a wildlife refuge and closed to hunting and other activities during parts of the year. Check postings in the parking areas.  Anyone using the area must be responsible. Anything taken in must be carried out.  Fires are not allowed.  Be careful with smoking materials as this area always has a high fire potential!  Snowmobile trails are allowed in designated areas during the winter.  ATV’s are never allowed.