Report 395, March 2017
Memorandum 1144, March 2017

Summary

  • The current condition of Michigan’s local government finance model has created an opportunity to examine the local government service delivery model with a focus on counties and opportunities to deliver services more regionally at the county level.
  • Such a change would free up local government resources to direct on the vital services that remain with the cities, villages, and townships.
  • The first step is to build up the information technology infrastructure to connect the county governments with the cities, villages, and townships within them.
  • Greater connectedness would position the counties to offer file sharing and the development of resources to capitalize on advances in communication. This would allow the counties to perform many back office functions on behalf of the cities, villages, and townships.
  • The counties could play stronger roles in such things as conducting elections, assessing property, maintaining roads currently under city and village jurisdiction, aspects of planning and land use, and public works and sanitation services. County sheriffs can assume responsibilities for policing communities or provide support services to support municipal police departments. They also could provide support services to local fire departments.
  • Conceptualizing changes cannot occur in a vacuum:
    • The counties would benefit from modernizing their government structures by adopting the charter and optional unified models of county governance.
    • Counties will require more funding to carry out these changes. Those funds could come from new local-option taxes, which are best levied on a regional basis, or by redirecting new state revenue sharing to counties.

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