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CRC Column

The right to criticize government is also an obligation to know what you are talking about. 
-Lent Upson, 1st Executive Director of CRC  


Local Government Issues

General Local Government Issues

Article VII -- Local Government
Report 360-10 ( July 2010 ) 11 pages

The tenth in the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's series of papers about state constitutional issues focuses on local government -- Article VII of the 1963 Michigan Constitution.

In addition to providing authority and power to the different branches of state government, the Michigan Constitution authorizes and empowers local governments. These provisions range from establishing the structure and governance fo counties and townships to the provision of home rule powers for cities, villages, and counties.

One of the most significant issues a constitutional convention may address is balancing the powers of the state to empower, oversee, and control local governments and the local governments’ interest in exercising the home rule powers currently provided in the constitution. Legislative action, administrative rules, and court rulings have eroded the spirit of home rule as it was originally envisioned by the drafters of the 1908 and 1963 Constitutions. Delegates to a 2011 convention would likely provide clarity to the proper balance of the state and local government powers.

"With the financial troubles facing local governments and the ever-present need for economic development," said Eric Lupher, CRC's Director of Local Affairs, "a constitutional convention is likely to spend time looking at the structure of local government. Potential reforms would likely focus on reducing the number of governmental units and streamlining the provision of governmental services."

The current provisions for county boards of supervisors are inoperable because they violate the 'one person, one vote' principle of the U.S. Constitution. It could be expected that a convention would attempt to provide greater direction on the conflict between the authority of local governments to control the use of their highways and public places by utilities and the power of the state to regulate those same utilities. Finally, a convention may choose to examine the need to address constitutional provisions related to multipurpose special authorities and the removal of public officials.

pdf File Regional Issues from a Statewide Perspective
Misc. ( November 2001 ) 8 pages

On October 19, 2001, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan sponsored, in conjunction with its 85th Annual Meeting, a panel discussion on Regional Issues from a Statewide Perspective. Participants on the panel were Dennis W. Archer, Mayor, City of Detroit, Thomas L. Hickner, Bay County Executive, John Logie, Mayor, City of Grand Rapids, and Mark Wollenweber, City Manager, City of St. Clair Shores. The panel was moderated by Chuck Stokes, Editorial Director, WXYZ-TV/Channel 7. This publication is an edited transcript of that discussion.

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

Report 313-9, pdf FILE Michigan Constitutional Issues Series ... System Of Local Government, Examines provisions of Article 7 that a constitutional convention might consider: Are the present basic organizational structure and powers of local government adequate to meet the needs of today and tomorrow? ( October 94 ) 4 pages [31,250 bytes]

County Government

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

CC 926, The Proposed Wayne County Charter ---See also #968, #967, #966, and Report #286 --- ( October 81 ) 4 pages

Memo, pdf File County Organization in Michigan, Discusses the historical and statutory reasons for the organization of county government in Michigan, discusses optional unified form of county government and charter form of county government ( November 89 ) 26 pages

Wayne County Charter Issues ... County Services
Report 274, ( April 81 ) 39 pages

Several provisions in the County Charter Act address the matter of providing services and issuing regulations under a charter county government. In this paper we address those matters relating to services and regulations that the Wayne County Charter Commission should consider. Our purpose is not to discuss organization and structure of the charter county government although necessarily, on occasion, we will touch upon those concerns.

--- See also CC 926 ---

Report 246, The Organization of Ottawa County Government: Present and Proposed, ( August 74 ) 22 pages

PDF File Apportionment of County Boards of Supervisors, Michigan and Other States,
Memo 212, ( August 65 ) 22 pages

In Baker v. Carr (1962), the United States Supreme Court ruled permissible the hearing by a Federal court of contentions that state legislative malapportionment could be a denial of the rights guaranteed under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This decision provided the basis for the subsequent entertainment by the Supreme Court of the case of Reynolds v. Sims (1964). In this latter case, the Court held that both houses of state legislatures must be elected with equal representation of population as the prime consideration or be at odds with the equal protection clause.

On June 23, 1964, five residents of the City of Grand Rapids brought the case of Brouwer v. Bronkema into the Kent County Circuit Court. Plaintiffs claimed that the apportionment of the Kent County Board of Supervisors was not on the basis of population,* and was, therefore, in violation of their right to the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment.

This paper looks at the present composition of the county boards of supervisors, compares those boards with county boards in other states, considers alternatives to the present system, and evaluates the boards of California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Wayne County Government (Organization)

Misc., pdf File Wayne County Proposal #1: County Charter Amendment ( October 92 ) 2 pages [8 KB]

Memo, pdf File County Organization in Michigan, Discusses the historical and statutory reasons for the organization of county government in Michigan, discusses optional unified form of county government and charter form of county government ( November 89 ) 26 pages

Wayne County Charter Issues ... The Legislative Branch
Report 270, ( March 81 ) 28 pages

The purpose of this paper is to review concepts related to potential reforms of the legislative branch that could be proposed in a charter county form of government. This paper will examine the lawmaking, legislative oversight, and constituent services functions of a county commission and consider different aspects of organization and power that would empower the commission to carry out those responsibilities in a charter county. The task of the Wayne County Charter Commission is to seek a balance in the charter provisions by creating a board of commissioners that is both politically and administratively efficient.

Wayne County Charter Issues ... County Administrative Organization
Report 267, ( March 81 ) 15 pages

Once the office of county executive or administrator has been provided for, a second major task which will confront the Wayne County Charter Commission will be the development of an overall plan of organization for the entire executive branch of county government. Since Wayne now utilizes the traditional commission form, the county government presently contains a broad array of offices, departments, boards, commissions and related agencies, performing a wide variety of functions and in many instances enjoying substantial autonomy. It will be the responsibility of the charter commission to systematize and reorganize these many units into a coherent whole. Since the great majority of the units found in a reorganized executive arm will report to the top officer of the county, the new structure in general will be built around that office.

CC 967, Home Rule in Wayne County: III -- Implementation of Checks and Balances --- See also CC #968, #966, #965, and Report #286 --- ( September 87 ) 4 pages

CC 966, Home Rule in Wayne County: II -- Separation of Powers and Reorganization under the Wayne County Charter --- See also CC #968, #967, #965; and Report #286 --- ( August 87 ) 4 pages

CC 965, Home Rule in Wayne County: I -- County Structure in Michigan --- See also CC #968, #967, #966, and Report #286 --- ( July 87 ) 4 pages

CC 963, Significant Local Ballot Issues (Wayne County-Abolish Drain Commissioner; Macomb County-Electing a Commission to Draft a Charter) ( October 86 ) 4 pages

PDF File Wayne County and Detroit Ballot Issues
CC 948, ( July 84 ) 4 pages

(A: Wayne County Millage Renewal; B: Abolish Wayne County Road Commission; C: Ombudsman; L: Detroit Library Operating Millage)

CC 926, The Proposed Wayne County Charter ---See also #968, 67">#967, #966, and Report #286 --- ( October 81 ) 4 pages

Report 277, Reorganizing Wayne County Government Under the 1981 Home Rule Charter ( December 82 ) 49 pages

Report 275, The Proposed Wayne County Charter ( September 81 ) 45 pages

Wayne County Charter Issues ... County Services
Report 274, ( April 81 ) 39 pages

Several provisions in the County Charter Act address the matter of providing services and issuing regulations under a charter county government. In this paper we address those matters relating to services and regulations that the Wayne County Charter Commission should consider. Our purpose is not to discuss organization and structure of the charter county government although necessarily, on occasion, we will touch upon those concerns.

--- See also CC 926 ---

Report 273, Wayne County Charter Issues ... Employee Retirement ( April 81 ) 18 pages

Report 272, Wayne County Charter Issues ... Debt Concepts and Provisions for Michigan Charter County Government ( April 81 ) 12 pages

Report 271, Wayne County Charter Issues ... Personnel Management ( March 81 ) 14 pages

Wayne County Charter Issues ... The Legislative Branch
Report 270, ( March 81 ) 28 pages

The purpose of this paper is to review concepts related to potential reforms of the legislative branch that could be proposed in a charter county form of government. This paper will examine the lawmaking, legislative oversight, and constituent services functions of a county commission and consider different aspects of organization and power that would empower the commission to carry out those responsibilities in a charter county. The task of the Wayne County Charter Commission is to seek a balance in the charter provisions by creating a board of commissioners that is both politically and administratively efficient.

Report 269, Wayne County Charter Issues ... Financial Processes ( March 81 ) 22 pages

Wayne County Charter Issues ... Labor Relations Management
Report 268, ( March 81 ) 16 pages

This study surveys Wayne County labor relations management and offers a brief outline and assessment of alternative policies available through adoption of a charter. The charter cannot diminish the right of Wayne County employees to bargain collectively or contravene the state laws, regulations, and judicial decisions which delineate the bargaining relationship between the county and its employees. Nor can the charter substantively alter established contractual obligations such as salaries, fringe benefits, and negotiated personnel policies. The Michigan Supreme Court has held that the duty to bargain supersedes charter provisions. The Michigan charter county act also protects "the rights and status of persons under the civil service system". Nevertheless, the charter will determine the structure of county labor relations management and this management will in turn influence both the pattern of labor relations and the substance of future contractual agreements.

Charter adoption will affect three broad areas of county labor relations management. First, it will substantially alter the relative distribution of labor relations authority between the legislative and executive branches of county government. Second, it may alter the administrative structure specifically assigned responsibility for management bargaining and contract administration. Third, it may establish certain specific labor management policies to the extent that these are not already prescribed through state laws and regulations or contractual agreements. This study discusses each of these areas in turn and then summarizes the major alternatives.

Wayne County Charter Issues ... County Administrative Organization
Report 267, ( March 81 ) 15 pages

Once the office of county executive or administrator has been provided for, a second major task which will confront the Wayne County Charter Commission will be the development of an overall plan of organization for the entire executive branch of county government. Since Wayne now utilizes the traditional commission form, the county government presently contains a broad array of offices, departments, boards, commissions and related agencies, performing a wide variety of functions and in many instances enjoying substantial autonomy. It will be the responsibility of the charter commission to systematize and reorganize these many units into a coherent whole. Since the great majority of the units found in a reorganized executive arm will report to the top officer of the county, the new structure in general will be built around that office.

Report 266, Wayne County Charter Issues ... Historical and Present Role of County Government in Michigan This paper was published to provide some perspectives about county government--how it came to be and how its purpose and function evolved over time The first section of this paper will deal with the beginnings of county government and its development in the U.S. and in Michigan. The second and third segments will review some of the ways Michigan state government relates to the counties in the state and how counties relate to the municipal jurisdictions within them. Finally, the paper discusses the nature of the charter in the context of county government. ( February 81 ) 19 pages

Wayne County Charter Issues ... Elected County Executive/Chief Administrative Officer
Report 265, ( February 81 ) 16 pages

This paper examines the role of the elected county executive or appointed chief administrative officer in a restructured county government based on experience in other reorganized counties. A separate paper in this series looks at an overall plan of organization of the executive branch.

County Manager, Executive

Wayne County Charter Issues ... Elected County Executive/Chief Administrative Officer
Report 265, ( February 81 ) 16 pages

This paper will examine the role of the elected county executive or appointed chief administrative officer in a restructured county government based on experience in other reorganized counties. A separate paper in this series looks at an overall plan of organization of the executive branch.

Township Government

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

Memo, pdf File Township, School District and Special District Government in Michigan, Monograph on the origins and issues surrounding the organization and implementation of these three levels of government. ( December 61 ) 13 pages

City Government--Organization & Structure

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

PDF File The Form of Government in 288 American Cities
Report 121, ( February 31 ) 20 pages

In the fall election of 1929, a referendum was presented to the electors of Detroit which, if approved, would have made basic changes in the existing form of government. This proposal prompted an enquiry into the form of government in American cities. A questionnaire was sent to all cities having a population of 30,000 or more at that time, and the results are summarized herewith.

The form of American municipal government appears to be in constant flux. These trends can be found by comparison of this report with reference to the tables carried in the Financial Statistics of Cities (U.S. Census Bureau) in the volume for the odd numbered years, terminating with the 1923 volume.

City Home Rule & City Charters

The Proposed Detroit City Charter
Memo 1110 ( October 2011 ) 18 pages

Voters in Detroit will have the opportunity to approve or reject a proposed new city charter on November 8. Citizens Research Council of Michigan is pleased to announce publication of its description and analysis of the proposed charter, The Proposed City of Detroit Charter.

City charters establish the basic structure of the municipal government and define critical processes of elections, budgeting, accounting, and planning, within constraints established in state law. Charters may also mandate city departments and programs. The challenge inherent in charter development is achieving the proper balance between the relatively permanent charter mandates and the latitude needed by local officials to make government efficient, effective, and responsive under changing conditions.

Under the proposal, the city would be divided into seven districts or wards, which would be the basis for election of seven of the nine City Council members; the two other City Council members would be elected at-large. The seven non at-large districts would be the basis for the election of seven of the 11 members of the Board of Police Commissioners, and for appointments to a variety of boards and commissions. City Council members would elect the Council president and president pro tempore from among their members, and Council would gain the authority to approve additional Mayoral appointments.

Ethics provisions are more extensive and the specific grounds for forfeiture of elected and appointed offices are defined in the proposal, as is the process which City Council would use to remove an elected or appointed official. A debarment process for vendors and contractors that violate rules is also provided in the proposed charter.

A new branch of city government called "Independent Departments and Offices" would include the Auditor General, Law Department, a new Inspector General, and the Ombudsperson. All of these agencies would be responsible for aspects of oversight, as would the City Council, the Risk Management Council, and others.

Detroit Ballot Issues -- Proposal D: Election of Detroit City Council Members
Memorandum 1094 ( October 2009 ) 4 pages

Proposal D proposes an amendment to the Detroit City Charter to change from the current at-large system of electing city council members to a hybrid system in which some members are elected from districts and others are elected at large. The analysis provides some historical context to the council election method, discusses the context within which these changes are proposed, describes the proposed changes, and analyzes issues to be considered relative to district or at-large elections.

pdf File Election of Detroit City Council Members,
CRC Memo 1063, ( July 2002 ) 4 pages

An August 6 ballot question ask Detroit residents whether the method of electing city council members should be changed from the current at-large system to an election by districts. This paper analyses at-large versus districts and looks at issues relative to the ballot question.

pdf File Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposal 00-2 - "Let Local Votes Count"
Report 332, ( October 2000 ) 16 pages

This analysis examines the affect of the amendment and past legislation that would be repealed if it is adopted. It examines a number of issues, including, the state's role in restricting local powers, grouping non-charter units of government together with charter units, the undefined terms used in the proposal, the status of state revenue distribution programs, minority rule issues, tax policy issues, the problems presented for any future government reform efforts, and the issue of federal regulatory primacy. Finally, the analysis provides some background about home rule, its implementation in Michigan, and how the proposed amendment fits into that system of state/local relations.

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

Memo 1042, pdf FILE The Proposed City of Detroit Charter, Reviewed the proposed new charter and highlighted major changes. ( June 96 ) 8 pages [55,156 bytes]

CC 1021, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision - Summary, Question appears on the ballot automatically in 1993 and every 16 years thereafter. This paper summarizes some of the issues as laid out in Report 310 (12 part series) --- Summarizes Report #310-1 through 12 --- ( October 93 ) 6 pages [40,569 bytes]

Report 311, pdf FILE The Nature And Purpose Of A Home Rule Charter, (David Morris, March 1971. Revised and Updated by William Stuede, MML, and Daniel C. Matson, DeWitt. Published Jointly with Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys). Examines the history and nature of home rule government in Michigan, the forms of home rule government, and the home rule powers granted to local governments by the state ( September 93 ) 16 pages [42,369 bytes]

Report 310-3, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... The Nature And Purpose Of A Home Rule Charter --- See also Report 311 --- ( July 93 ) 4 pages

Report 310-1, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Democratic Principles And Home Rule Charters (Susan B. Hannah, WMU) Principles on which our American political system was founded: popular sovereignty; individual rights; representation; majority rule; limited government/divided rule; and accountability ( July 93 ) 4 pages

CC 869, The Proposed Detroit City Charter--In Brief --- See also #968, #967, #966, #965, and Report #286 --- ( October 73 ) 11 pages

pdf File A Digest of the Proposed Charter for the City of Detroit
CC 858, ( October 72 ) 13 pages

On November 7, 1972, the voters of the City of Detroit will be asked to ratify or reject the proposed city charter prepared by the Charter Revision Commission. Proposal H asks the voters to decide whether the main body of the proposed charter should be adopted or rejected. Proposals I and J will permit the voters to choose between alternative kinds of representation on the city council (I) and between alternative methods of electing city officials (J). However, in the event that Proposal H is defeated, the vote on proposals I and J would be nullified and the present charter (which provides for nonpartisan-ship elections and a nine-member city council elected at large) would remain in effect. The purpose of this memorandum is to summarize the principal features of the proposed charter in an attempt to give the voter a means for formulating his own decision on this important question.

pdf File Detroit Charter Revision--6: New Directions in the Proposed Detroit Charter
CC 855, ( August 72 ) 4 pages

The Discussion Draft of the New Charter for the City of Detroit, as revised by the Charter Revision Commission and submitted to the governor for review on July 7, 1972, contains a number of innovative concepts and proposals, which could have a far reaching impact on the character of city government in Detroit. Some of the more important new provisions in the proposed charter include:

  • The introduction of the "responsible city" concept in the charter under which the city would be charged with the responsibility for taking aggressive action to promote the general welfare of its citizens.
  • Creation of an office of ombudsman with authority to investigate any administrative act by a city official.
  • Creation of a decentralization commission to prepare a plan for community government which establishes at least eight community councils throughout the city. The city council may, by ordinance appropriate funds and delegate responsibilities to the community councils.
  • Creation of an independent professional standards department within the executive branch to investigate and adjudicate cases of alleged police misconduct.
  • Creation of a consumer affairs department with authority to enforce laws and ordinances governing business practices, to grant rand revoke business licenses and permits, and to investigate citizen complaints.
  • Creation of an environmental protection department empowered to enforce environmental ordinances of the city and "as far as practicable, insure that agencies of the city are operating in a manner least harmful to the environment."

pdf File Detroit Charter Revision--5: The Framework of Government in the Proposed Detroit Charter
CC 854, ( August 72 ) 4 pages

Under the Michigan home rule act the city charter as adopted by the people provides the framework of government under which the city operates. This framework provides the mechanism for performing two basic and vital functions-the political or policy leadership function and the administrative or operating function.

The form and structure of government as provided in the charter must make it possible for the representatives of the citizens of the community to agree on policies generally acceptable to the public, and then provide the structure for implementing such policies through performing functions and providing services.

pdf File Detroit Charter Revision--4: Personnel Administration in the Proposed Detroit Charter
CC 853, ( July 72 ) 4 pages

Two of the basic issues that confronted the charter revision commission with respect to personnel administration were:
1. Whether the administration of the personnel function should be under a director directly responsible to the mayor or under an "independent" civil service commission as is provided in the present charter; and,
2. What the relationship should be between civil service and the collective bargaining function, which is currently performed by a separate labor relations bureau established by ordinance.

CC 849, Detroit Charter Revision--3: The Proposed Detroit Charter and a Balanced City Budget ( June 1972 ) 2 pages

CC 845, Detroit Charter Revision--2: Financial Administration in the Proposed Detroit Charter ( March 1972 ) 4 pages

CC 838, Detroit Charter Revision--1: Charter Commission Progress and Plans ( May 1971 ) 3 pages

The Nature and Purpose of A Home Rule City Charter,
Memorandum 215 ( March 1971 ) 15 pages

Memo, Administrative Organization of the City of Highland Park Under the New City Charter ( January 1969 ) 15 pages

Misc., City Charter Revision (Ecorse) ( February 1962 ) 4 pages

pdf File Constitutional Aspects of State-Local Relationships - I: Municipal and County Home Rule for Michigan,
Memo 203, ( October 61 ) 28 pages

(Arthur W. Bromage - Professor of Political Science, The University of Michigan) Considers the organization of Michigan local government using home rule provisions, problems that have arisen since adoption of the 1908 Constitution, comparisons with other states, and possible alternatives.

City Mayor, Executive Branch

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

Report 310-12, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Term Limitations For Local Officials Examines local term limitation issues as they might apply to the elected officials in the City of Detroit ( October 93 ) 2 pages

Report 310-7, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Executive Branch Organization Examines the current structure of the executive branch of the City of Detroit, the appointment authority of the mayor, the roles of boards and commissions, and issues that might be addressed by a charter commission ( August 93 ) 6 pages

City Commission Form

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

City Manager

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

City Councils

pdf File Election of Detroit City Council Members,
CRC Memo 1063, ( July 2002 ) 4 pages

An August 6 ballot question ask Detroit residents whether the method of electing city council members should be changed from the current at-large system to an election by districts. This paper analyses at-large versus districts and looks at issues relative to the ballot question.

Report 310-12, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Term Limitations For Local Officials Examines local term limitation issues as they might apply to the elected officials in the City of Detroit ( October 93 ) 2 pages

Report 310-10, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Election Of City Council Members Describes the current method of electing city officials, examines alternative methods, and compares Detroit with the 20 largest U.S. cities and 20 largest Michigan cities ( October 93 ) 4 pages

Report 310-8, pdf FILE Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Decentralization Of City Government Examines the issue, the current Charter provisions, the experience of other cities, and the experiences of the Detroit Public School in the 1970s ( September 93 ) 4 pages

Detroit City Government

pdf File Election of Detroit City Council Members,
CRC Memo 1063, ( July 2002 ) 4 pages

An August 6 ballot question ask Detroit residents whether the method of electing city council members should be changed from the current at-large system to an election by districts. This paper analyses at-large versus districts and looks at issues relative to the ballot question.

CC 1021, pdf File Detroit City Charter Revision - Summary, Question appears on the ballot automatically in 1993 and every 16 years thereafter. This paper summarizes some of the issues as laid out in Report 310 (12 part series) --- Summarizes Report #310-1 through 12 --- ( October 93 ) 6 pages [40,569 bytes]

Report 310-7, pdf File Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Executive Branch Organization Examines the current structure of the executive branch of the City of Detroit, the appointment authority of the mayor, the roles of boards and commissions, and issues that might be addressed by a charter commission ( August 93 ) 6 pages

Report 310-5, pdf File Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Form Of City Government: Separation And Balance Of Powers Between The Mayor And The City Council Describes the current form of strong mayor form of government, the checks and balances built into the charter, the powers given to the separate branches, and explores the forms of government used by the 20 largest U.S. cities and 20 largest Michigan cities ( August 93 ) 6 pages

Report 310-4, pdf File Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Reflections On City Charter Revision (Bernard Klein & Richard Simmons, Former Charter Commissioners) Lessons learned 20 years ago in creating the current charter and evaluation of its workings relative to their intentions ( August 93 ) 3 pages

Report 310-2, pdf File Detroit City Charter Revision Issues ... Detroit City Charters -- A Brief History (George E. Ward, Former Charter Commission Executive Director) History of the 1918 and 1974 Charters and circumstances that created their forms ( July 93 ) 4 pages

CC 948, Wayne County and Detroit Ballot Issues (A: Wayne County Millage Renewal; B: Abolish Wayne County Road Commission; C: Ombudsman; L: Detroit Library Operating Millage) ( July 84 ) 4 pages

Special Districts and Authorities

Streamlining Local Government Service Delivery in Lenawee County
Report 375 ( January 2012 ) 113 pages

This report examines the people, places, and governments in Lenawee County to identify opportunities for consolidation or collaboration among the local governments. The report, which considers existing service delivery and expenditure patterns, suggests services for which the communities might benefit by collaborating for their provision. The report was conducted at the request of One Lenawee, a citizen-led community development initiative that seeks to make Lenawee County a more desirable place to live, locate a business, and visit.

The Michigan economy, in the doldrums for more than a decade, has placed fiscal stress on local units of government, which are searching for ways to continue to provide services to their residents in an era of constrained revenues. One Lenawee contacted CRC with the stated goal of making Lenawee County "A community that controls its own destiny, has its own identity, saves tax dollars, and is attractive to new and existing businesses and residents."

Lenawee County has a population of about 100,000 people with 34 units of government, including four cities, seven villages, 22 townships, and the county government. The City of Adrian, Michigan's 52nd largest city and by far Lenawee County's largest, has 21 percent of the total population and the six largest governments constitute 57 percent of the county total. The other governments are either very small geographic entities with small populations or sparsely populated townships.

Approaches to Consolidating Local Government Services
Report 354 ( November 2008 ) 45 pages

The report describes three kinds of services-labor intensive, capital intensive, and technically intensive-and notes that the attributes of these services condition their suitability for interlocal consolidation.

"The first thing a local unit will want to do when it is considering consolidation," said Eric Lupher, CRC Director of Local Affairs, "is to determine what kind of service it is. Capital intensive and technically intensive services appear to be more amenable to joint provision than labor intensive services, based on our survey of local governments."

The purpose of consolidation is to achieve either economies of scale, in which the cooperating units can take advantage of lower unit costs by providing the service on a larger scale, or economies of skill, in which the services of employees with specialized skills can be spread over a larger number of units.

"Local governments can cooperate either horizontally, with other similar units, or vertically, with either their county or the State of Michigan," Lupher said.

Noting that start-up costs frequently discourage units from developing cooperative arrangements, Lupher said that the State of Michigan could offer incentives through revenue sharing that could make consolidation attractive.

Approaches to Consolidating Local Government Services
Memo 1089 ( November 2008 ) 8 pages

Summarizes Report 354

Authorization for Interlocal Agreements and Intergovernmental Cooperation in Michigan
Report 346, ( April 2007 ) 111 pages

Municipal officials have three options for dealing with the fiscal and operational pressures on local government finances: 1) increase taxes to yield more revenues; 2) cut spending to meet available revenues; or 3) find alternative methods of providing services at current levels for less money. One such alternative is collaboration with other local governmental units to perform functions and provide services.

To aid local government officials in their efforts to collaborate, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has published Authorization for Interlocal Agreements and Intergovernmental Cooperation in Michigan, a new outline of the Michigan laws that authorize joint service provision. The 77 provisions in Michigan law are presented in outline form to provide legal citations, describe the functions or services that can be jointly provided, list the types of governments eligible to use the laws, detail the steps needed to implement the laws, describe the governing bodies charged with oversight of the service provision, and explore the financial powers gained by utilizing these laws.

Catalog of Local Government Services in Michigan
Memo 1079 ( September 2005 ) 8 pages

The Catalog of Local Government Services is the result of a survey sent to the governments of 670 counties, cities, villages, and counties in 24 Michigan counties. The surveys asked which services are provided to residents of each community, and if the services are provided, whether they are provided by the units themselves, through cooperative arrangements, by another unit, or by contract.

Responses were received from about 70 percent of the units contacted. The data show that Michigan cities, villages, and townships cannot be characterized in simple terms. The menu of services provided by different units is broad and the methods used to provide those services equally diverse. The Citizens Research Council plans to use the Catalog of Local Government Services for future studies to expand on opportunities for efficiencies. The information is made available at this time for others to use the data for their own needs.

Download Paper
Access Database

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

Memo, pdf File Township, School District and Special District Government in Michigan, Monograph on the origins and issues surrounding the organization and implementation of these three levels of government. ( December 61 ) 13 pages

Federal-State Relations & Federal-City Relations

PDF File Protecting the Elephant,
Misc. ( August 2003 ) 3 pages

Funding the war on terrorism continues to be debated. One aspect of the debate revolves around the appropriate allocation of the funding burden between the federal government and states and localities. CRC President Earl M. Ryan addressed the costs of homeland security and their allocation in a presentation to the 2003 Annual Conference of the Governmental Research Association in Chicago.

State-Local Relations

Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposal 2012-01
Referendum On Public Act 4 Of 2011, The Local Government And School District Fiscal Accountability Act

Memo 1116 ( September 2012 ) 7 pages

On November 6, 2012, Michigan voters will determine whether Public Act 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act, will be repealed.

This report analyzes this initiated referendum that describes PA 4, the law that allows state appointment of emergency managers for local governments that are found to have financial emergencies. The report reviews the history of similar laws in Michigan, the application of PA 4, and the differences between this law and previous approaches to local fiscal emergencies. Of particular importance are the enhanced power of emergency managers under PA 4, including the authority to abrogate contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and the terms associated with consent agreements negotiated under the statute.

At the time PA 4 was adopted, supporters claimed the intent of the law was to encourage locally elected officials to make hard budget decisions in a time of economic difficulties. Critics note that those economic difficulties were exacerbated by severe reductions in state shared revenues.

Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act
Report 368 and Memorandum 1106 ( April 2011 ) 35 pages

Many Michigan local governments and school districts are facing significant financial stress. Declining revenues, reductions in state aid, and rapidly increasing healthcare and retirement costs are creating huge challenges for local governments and school districts. Many local governments appear to be on the brink of a financial emergency.

Michigan's law for dealing with local governments facing a financial emergency (Public Act 72 of 1990) was deemed inadequate for the current crisis. To allow for a more robust response to the current fiscal crisis, the state has repealed PA 72 and replaced it with PA 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has just released an analysis of this Act.

Financial Emergencies in Michigan Local Governments
Report 362 and Memorandum 1099 ( April 2010 ) 38 pages

This paper describes the options available to fiscally distressed municipalities, including an in-depth description of Michigan's Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act and Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code. The report also defines key terms including: emergency financial manager, in default, judgment levy, insolvency, bankruptcy, and receivership.

pdf File Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposal 00-2 - "Let Local Votes Count"
Report 332, ( September 2000 ) 16 pages

This analysis examines the affect of the amendment and past legislation that would be repealed if it is adopted. It examines a number of issues, including, the state's role in restricting local powers, grouping non-charter units of government together with charter units, the undefined terms used in the proposal, the status of state revenue distribution programs, minority rule issues, tax policy issues, the problems presented for any future government reform efforts, and the issue of federal regulatory primacy. Finally, the analysis provides some background about home rule, its implementation in Michigan, and how the proposed amendment fits into that system of state/local relations.

pdf File Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposal 00-2 - "Let Local Votes Count"
Memo 1056, ( October 2000 ) 4 pages

Summary of Report 332

pdf File Avoiding Local Government Financial Crisis: The Role of State Oversight
Report 329, ( July 2000 ) 56 pages

Over the years, the State of Michigan has enacted a number of laws to prevent or react to local government fiscal distress. Despite these laws, the state has remained relatively inactive in the oversight of local government finances, and a few units of local government have experienced fiscal distress. Through proactive monitoring of local government finances, the state could identify local units with management policies, financial practices, or debt management practices that allow financial conditions to erode. By continuously working with local governments, the state could assist in changing the course of those unit’s finances. Based on the experiences of other states, the likely result of such actions is tax savings for residents of those units likely to get into fiscal distress, improved management practices by officials of those units, and reduced interest costs for all Michigan residents.

This report considers the proper state response to local government fiscal distress, examines the policies of other states, and makes eight recommendations for how the state might alter its current practices to better deal with fiscal crises.

pdf File Avoiding Local Government Financial Crisis: The Role of State Oversight
Memo 1053, (July 2000 ) 8 pages

Summary of Report 329

Memo 1048, pdf File The Durant Decision, On July 31, 1997, the Michigan Supreme Court held that special education programs are a State mandate and that the State had failed to fund such programs at the level required by the State Constitution. A financial settlement has been structured covering both the plaintiffs and other school districts similarly affected by the State's actions. Correcting the underfunding of special education programs is not the only Headlee Amendment issue which should concern the Governor and Legislature. An effort should be undertaken to identify and catalogue existing mandates imposed upon units of local government by the State, and to identify new mandates as they are adopted. In addition, the Legislature should invigorate the local government claims review board which it established in 1979. Finally, the Legislature needs to adopt amendments to its joint rules to establish a process to identify potential mandates, as required by the Headlee Amendment implementation legislation. ( January 98 ) 7 pages [75,136 bytes]

Report 314, pdf FILE Managing The Relations Between State And Local Government And Casinos, Introduction to the extent of casino gaming in the United States, the forms of casinos, and the structure of the regulatory response of states to casino operations. Identifies the interests of the State of Michigan and local units in the establishment and operation of casinos ( April 95 ) 30 pages [80,610 bytes]

Memo, pdf FILE An Analysis of the Effectiveness of the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act (Public Act 72 of 1990, formerly Public Act 101 of 1988), The Michigan Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, in response to a legislative request to evaluate Public Act No. 101 of 1988, the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, asked CRC to analyze the effectiveness of the act. Criticisms of the act focused on several areas: the susceptibility of the process to political influence; the length of time required for the appointment of an emergency financial manager; the extent of the authority of the emergency financial manager; and the bankruptcy provision. ( August 90 ) 16 pages [54KB]

Report 266, Wayne County Charter Issues ... Historical and Present Role of County Government in Michigan This paper was published to provide some perspectives about county government--how it came to be and how its purpose and function evolved over time The first section of this paper will deal with the beginnings of county government and its development in the U.S. and in Michigan. The second and third segments will review some of the ways Michigan state government relates to the counties in the state and how counties relate to the municipal jurisdictions within them. Finally, the paper discusses the nature of the charter in the context of county government. ( February 81 ) 19 pages

State-Wide Spring Election Ballot Issues
CC 697, ( March 59 ) 2 pages

Constitutional Amendments
I. Continuity Of State & Local Government In Emergencies;
II. State Board Of Agriculture To Be Board Of Trustees;
III. Board Of Governors Of Wayne State University

Metropolitan Government

Catalog of Local Government Services in Michigan
Memo 1079 ( September 2005 ) 8 pages

The Catalog of Local Government Services is the result of a survey sent to the governments of 670 counties, cities, villages, and counties in 24 Michigan counties. The surveys asked which services are provided to residents of each community, and if the services are provided, whether they are provided by the units themselves, through cooperative arrangements, by another unit, or by contract.

Responses were received from about 70 percent of the units contacted. The data show that Michigan cities, villages, and townships cannot be characterized in simple terms. The menu of services provided by different units is broad and the methods used to provide those services equally diverse. The Citizens Research Council plans to use the Catalog of Local Government Services for future studies to expand on opportunities for efficiencies. The information is made available at this time for others to use the data for their own needs.

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pdf File Regional Issues from a Statewide Perspective
Misc. ( November 2001 ) 8 pages

On October 19, 2001, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan sponsored, in conjunction with its 85th Annual Meeting, a panel discussion on Regional Issues from a Statewide Perspective. Participants on the panel were Dennis W. Archer, Mayor, City of Detroit, Thomas L. Hickner, Bay County Executive, John Logie, Mayor, City of Grand Rapids, and Mark Wollenweber, City Manager, City of St. Clair Shores. The panel was moderated by Chuck Stokes, Editorial Director, WXYZ-TV/Channel 7. This publication is an edited transcript of that discussion.

pdf File Regional Financing of Regional Services
Report 239, ( April 70 ) 84 pages

In 1968 the Metropolitan Fund, Incorporated, requested the Citizens Research Council to undertake a comprehensive study in the field of regional finance. The purpose of the study was to identify, describe and analyze the more significant alternative methods which were being utilized in the United States and Canada to finance regional services on a regional basis, and to evaluate the potential of these methods for the regional financing of regional services in Southeast Michigan. The principal thrust of the study was to be directed toward multi-county programs, rather than those involving only a single county or part of a county (such as the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto). However particularly significant instances of financing sub-regional programs might be included. The study was not intended to include instances of regional financing of local services (i.e., a regional-level tax to provide funds for local governments), nor was it to consider the financing of regional planning or educational activities. The study was not designed to develop specific recommendations as to services which should be performed on a regional basis in Southeast Michigan or as to methods of regional financing which should be utilized in this area.

pdf File Constitutional Aspects of State-Local Relationships - II: Metropolitan Government, A description or appraisal of the results achieved under the constitutional provisions in other states relating to metropolitan areas performed for the delegates to the constitutional convention and for the people of Michigan.
Memo 205, ( November 61 ) 36 pages [157 KB]

Councils of Government

Annexation and Incorporation

Report 326, pdf File A Bird's Eye View of Michigan Local Government at the End of the Twentieth Century, A primer on the structure, powers, and finances of Michigan local government written for a Symposium on the Future of Local Government in Michigan, hosted by the Michigan Municipal League on June 23-25, 1999. ( August 99 ) 38 pages [413KB]

The Costs, Benefits, and Alternatives for Consolidating the Onekama Governments
Report 372 ( October 2011 ) 65 pages

CRC's study was commissioned through the Shared Public Services Initiative, a collaborative project involving local, state and non-profit organizations administered through the Michigan Municipal League Foundation. CRC was asked to explain the merger options and to analyze the costs and benefits of consolidating the Village of Onekama and the Township of Onekama in Manistee County. Even while CRC was studying the issues and preparing its analysis, the community was working with Eric Lupher, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's Director of Local Affairs, to learn about the possibilities and implications of consolidating the two governments.

Residents of Onekama recently circulated petitions to disincorporate the village. On August 24, the township clerk certified that the circulators had collected more than the 57 signatures needed to get a question on the ballot. The General Law Village Act provides an option for creation of a disincorporation commission to prepare a report recommending a course of action for what should be done with the village's assets and liabilities if dissolution is approved. The commission's report is intended to provide voters with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions on how disincorporation will affect them. The question could be put to the voters of Onekama as early as February, 2012.

Consolidation

School District Dissolutions: Another Approach to Address Local School District Fiscal Distress
Memo 1125 ( December 2013 ) 16 pages

In July, Michigan state government officials, acting under the authority of a new state law, dissolved two local school districts, resulting in the closure of all of the districts’ schools and the reassignment of the districts’ students to neighboring districts. The speedy dissolution of the Buena Vista and City of Inkster school districts came after the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in consultation with the State Treasurer, determined that the districts were no longer financially sustainable. This report examines the state’s new policy allowing for school district dissolutions and its implications for local districts and the state at-large.

Although fiscal distress among Michigan’s nearly 550 local public school districts and almost 275 charter schools is not widespread, a growing number of districts are ending their fiscal years in deficit. Today, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction reported that 50 school districts ended the 2012-13 fiscal year with a General Fund deficit, the largest number of deficit districts since the passage of 1994’s Proposal A. Until recently, state officials relied exclusively on the emergency manager statute to directly intervene in the affairs of local districts to address fiscal distress; now they have another tool at their disposal.

CRC’s new report identifies many of the causes of school districtfiscal distress and the state’s oversight role in preventing distress from occurring in the first place. Additionally, the report discusses the justifications for state intervention, along with the state’s traditional response when districts are unable to address their problems on their own.

The report also examines a number of issues, some previously not contemplated, associated with the state’s new authority to dissolve local school districts under Public Act 96, including:

  • the state’s departure from prior laws that require local voterapproval to alter school district boundaries;
  • the differences between the new law and the emergency manager law for dealing with fiscal distress;
  • the provision of additional state resources to liquidate a dissolved school districts’ debts; and
  • the potential inequitable treatment of those responsible for paying the local 18-mill school operating tax.

Consolidation Issues Associated with the Proposed Merger of the City of the Village of Douglas and the City of Saugatuck
Report 384 ( July 2013 ) 54 pages

After performing an analysis commissioned by the City of Saugatuck and the City of the Village of Douglas, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released its findings in a new report. The analysis describes to the elected officials and citizens of these communities how the merger, which is to be voted on at the November 2013 election, would affect the operations and financing of local government.

Douglas and Saugatuck are two small, adjoining cities on the banks of Lake Michigan. Their small sizes and proximity to each other has led the two cities to develop mutual interdependencies, with half the money spent for local government services funneled through inter-local agreements. The most costly services -- police, fire, library, transit - are already provided across the jurisdictions. As a result, the proposed merger primarily would affect the provision of core governmental functions - city manager, treasurer, and clerk - and public works.

CRC's analysis examines

  • How the proposed merger would affect planning and zoning;
  • The cities' stewardship of the plentiful natural resources in the region;
  • The similarities in the city charters and ordinances;
  • The level of indebtedness of the two cities;
  • What would happen to the property owned by the cities;
  • The handling of public records;
  • The potential reduction in the number of municipal workers;
  • How merger would affect Douglas' DDA and Saugatuck's historic district;
  • The financing of some of the most costly and capital intensive services through inter-local agreements;
  • The potential affect of merger on road care, road funding, and street names; and
  • The fiscal impact of merger on the level of services provided and potential savings that could be generated by streamlining the governments' operations.

CRC estimates that about $500,000 in savings can result if consolidation does occur. This is equal to 13.0 percent of the $3.6 million total expenditures for the two cities (not including the grant-funded $10 million capital expenditure Saugatuck made in 2012). The operating millage required to fund the reduced spending would decline from 13 mills in Saugatuck and 13.0818 mills in Douglas to 11.2 mills across the merged city. For a property valued at $200,000 ($100,000 in taxable value) in Douglas, the lower tax rate would result in about $192 a year in savings on city taxes. For an equally valued property in Saugatuck, the lower tax rate would result in about $184 a year in savings.

Lessons from the Proposed Merger of Onekama Village with Onekama Township
Report 381 ( January 2013 ) 37 pages

For parts of 2011 and 2012, CRC worked with the residents of Onekama, a village and township in Manistee County on the shores of Lake Michigan, to investigate the possibility of disincorporating the village government. As the first community to use disincorporation provisions in the General Law Village Act that create a commission to investigate the changes that would result from merging with the township, Onekama discovered the benefits of this process and several weaknesses in the law's provisions.

Although the Onekama voters voted not to merge their two governments by disincorporating the village, their experiences can be valuable for communities contemplating use of these provisions in the future. This new CRC Report chronicles the experiences of the merger efforts and suggests several amendments to the General Law Village Act that could address the perceived weaknesses or simply improve the process.

Streamlining Local Government Service Delivery in Lenawee County
Report 375 ( January 2012 ) 113 pages

This report examines the people, places, and governments in Lenawee County to identify opportunities for consolidation or collaboration among the local governments. The report, which considers existing service delivery and expenditure patterns, suggests services for which the communities might benefit by collaborating for their provision. The report was conducted at the request of One Lenawee, a citizen-led community development initiative that seeks to make Lenawee County a more desirable place to live, locate a business, and visit.

The Michigan economy, in the doldrums for more than a decade, has placed fiscal stress on local units of government, which are searching for ways to continue to provide services to their residents in an era of constrained revenues. One Lenawee contacted CRC with the stated goal of making Lenawee County "A community that controls its own destiny, has its own identity, saves tax dollars, and is attractive to new and existing businesses and residents."

Lenawee County has a population of about 100,000 people with 34 units of government, including four cities, seven villages, 22 townships, and the county government. The City of Adrian, Michigan's 52nd largest city and by far Lenawee County's largest, has 21 percent of the total population and the six largest governments constitute 57 percent of the county total. The other governments are either very small geographic entities with small populations or sparsely populated townships.

The Costs, Benefits, and Alternatives for Consolidating the Onekama Governments
Report 372 ( October 2011 ) 65 pages

CRC's study was commissioned through the Shared Public Services Initiative, a collaborative project involving local, state and non-profit organizations administered through the Michigan Municipal League Foundation. CRC was asked to explain the merger options and to analyze the costs and benefits of consolidating the Village of Onekama and the Township of Onekama in Manistee County. Even while CRC was studying the issues and preparing its analysis, the community was working with Eric Lupher, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan's Director of Local Affairs, to learn about the possibilities and implications of consolidating the two governments.

Residents of Onekama recently circulated petitions to disincorporate the village. On August 24, the township clerk certified that the circulators had collected more than the 57 signatures needed to get a question on the ballot. The General Law Village Act provides an option for creation of a disincorporation commission to prepare a report recommending a course of action for what should be done with the village's assets and liabilities if dissolution is approved. The commission's report is intended to provide voters with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions on how disincorporation will affect them. The question could be put to the voters of Onekama as early as February, 2012.

Streamlining Functions and Services of Kent County and Metropolitan Grand Rapids Cities
Report 357 ( October 2009 ) 45 pages

A new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan analyzes existing collaboration, identifies statutory and charter impediments to the expansion of collaboration among metropolitan Grand Rapids cities, and suggests services for which the communities might benefit by collaborating for their provision. The report was conducted at the request of the communities and funded by grants from the Frey Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, and the Hudson-Webber Foundation.

The Michigan economy, in the doldrums for eight years, has placed fiscal stress on local units of government, which are searching for ways to continue to provide services to their residents in an era of constrained revenues.

"These communities already collaborate for the provision of a great deal of services, but more collaboration will be necessary if they hope to maintain the level of services to which their residents are accustomed," said Eric Lupher, CRC's Director of Local Affairs.

The report identifies provisions in several state laws that are impediments to collaboration. "These communities have used collaboration to provide services that none could afford to provide on their own, to avoid service duplication, and to maximize on efficiencies," said Lupher. "But for these communities and others throughout the state, service consolidation will become increasingly necessary because of scarce revenues. Unless provisions in the Urban Cooperation Act and others are addressed, little cost savings are likely to result from consolidating existing services."

The report suggests that the consolidation of public safety functions and an expansion of the role that counties play in assisting in the operations of local governments will have the greatest affect in streamlining service provision.

Approaches to Consolidating Local Government Services
Report 354 ( November 2008 ) 45 pages

The report describes three kinds of services-labor intensive, capital intensive, and technically intensive-and notes that the attributes of these services condition their suitability for interlocal consolidation.

"The first thing a local unit will want to do when it is considering consolidation," said Eric Lupher, CRC Director of Local Affairs, "is to determine what kind of service it is. Capital intensive and technically intensive services appear to be more amenable to joint provision than labor intensive services, based on our survey of local governments."

The purpose of consolidation is to achieve either economies of scale, in which the cooperating units can take advantage of lower unit costs by providing the service on a larger scale, or economies of skill, in which the services of employees with specialized skills can be spread over a larger number of units.

"Local governments can cooperate either horizontally, with other similar units, or vertically, with either their county or the State of Michigan," Lupher said.

Noting that start-up costs frequently discourage units from developing cooperative arrangements, Lupher said that the State of Michigan could offer incentives through revenue sharing that could make consolidation attractive.

Approaches to Consolidating Local Government Services
Memo 1089 ( November 2008 ) 8 pages

Summarizes Report 354

Authorization for Interlocal Agreements and Intergovernmental Cooperation in Michigan
Report 346, ( April 2007 ) 111 pages

Municipal officials have three options for dealing with the fiscal and operational pressures on local government finances: 1) increase taxes to yield more revenues; 2) cut spending to meet available revenues; or 3) find alternative methods of providing services at current levels for less money. One such alternative is collaboration with other local governmental units to perform functions and provide services.

To aid local government officials in their efforts to collaborate, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has published Authorization for Interlocal Agreements and Intergovernmental Cooperation in Michigan, a new outline of the Michigan laws that authorize joint service provision. The 77 provisions in Michigan law are presented in outline form to provide legal citations, describe the functions or services that can be jointly provided, list the types of governments eligible to use the laws, detail the steps needed to implement the laws, describe the governing bodies charged with oversight of the service provision, and explore the financial powers gained by utilizing these laws.

Catalog of Local Government Services in Michigan
Memo 1079 ( September 2005 ) 8 pages

The Catalog of Local Government Services is the result of a survey sent to the governments of 670 counties, cities, villages, and counties in 24 Michigan counties. The surveys asked which services are provided to residents of each community, and if the services are provided, whether they are provided by the units themselves, through cooperative arrangements, by another unit, or by contract.

Responses were received from about 70 percent of the units contacted. The data show that Michigan cities, villages, and townships cannot be characterized in simple terms. The menu of services provided by different units is broad and the methods used to provide those services equally diverse. The Citizens Research Council plans to use the Catalog of Local Government Services for future studies to expand on opportunities for efficiencies. The information is made available at this time for others to use the data for their own needs.

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The Financial Implications of Consolidating the City of Grand Blanc and Grand Blanc Township
Report 339 ( March 2005 ) 65 pages

The Charter Township of Grand Blanc has experienced a great deal of residential development in recent years and is likely to continue to grow for some time. In the middle of the township lies the City of Grand Blanc, a separate governmental entity with its own system of service delivery. The question for Grand Blanc residents is whether they want the township to continue to grow separate from the city, or do they want to consolidate the two entities into a single city. This analysis finds that consolidation would result in some efficiencies in individual departments, but that other departments would likely need to increase staff levels. A consolidated police force would be better suited to meet the needs of a growing community. Incorporation would allow for assumption of responsibility over roads, but would also shift the burden of paying for improvements to the new city. Access to the township tax base would allow for a tax rate reduction of about 6 mills for residents of the City of Grand Blanc. Township taxpayers would be subject to a tax rate increase of 1.5 to 2 mills.

The Financial Implications of Consolidating the City of Grand Blanc and Grand Blanc Township
Memo 1078 ( January 2005 ) 12 pages

Summarizes Report 339.

City of Northville Northville Township Unification Report
Memo, ( September 72 ) 24 pages

Update of data concerning the proposed unification of the City of Northville and Northville Township that originally appeared in a series of reports prepared in 1968 by consultant Donald M. Oakes.

PDF File Governmental Consolidation in the Plymouth Community
Report 233, ( September 68 ) 80 pages

Study identifies the impact on governmental services and costs of establishing a new city by consididating the present city of Plymouth and Plymouth Township. The report does not recommend a specific course of action, but rather presents a factual analysis of the situation as a basis for community discussion and decision.

PDF File Metropolitan Area Unification in the Battle Creek Urban Area
Report 225 ( March 66 ) 67 pages

Study undertaken at the request of the Township Boards of Battle Creek, Bedford, Emmett, and Pennfield and the Council and Commission of the Cities of Springfield and Battle Creek to provide a factual basis for evaluating the impact of consolidation on governmental services and costs if the six units of government in the Battle Creek Urban Area were to incorporate as a new city.

pdf File Municipal Consolidation in the Jackson Community
Report 223 ( January 66 ) 79 pages

Report undertaken at the request of the Blackman, Leoni, and Summit Township Boards and the City Commission of the City of Jackson to investigate whether the creation of a new city, formed through a merger of their four communities and providing a level of municipal services comparable to that now provided in the City of Jackson would better serve the overall needs of their respective constituents than the four units operating individually.

Consolidation In Grosse Pointe?
CC 688 ( August 58 ) 2 pages

see Report 192

pdf File Consolidation of the Cities of Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Park and Grosse Pointe Farms,
Report 192 ( July 58 ) 44 pages

A review of the many factors involved in making a judgment as to the feasibility and desirability of consolidating the cities, including the governmental organization, administration, and operations.

 

 

 

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Last Updated January 30, 2014