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Thread: Will Michigan local governance structure join the 21st century?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian big_g's avatar
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    Will Michigan local governance structure join the 21st century?

    An article from the Michigan Land Use Institute based in Traverse City, MI, reports that the State May Push Local Governments To Cooperate, indicating that the state lawmakers may be re-examining the antiquated and complex system of operating and delivering services to counties, cities, villages and townships.

    One of the biggest problems with the system is that many Michigan township's form of small government duplicate many services and waste taxpayer dollars. Township's resistance to thinking regionally and acting cooperatively, has hampered the states ability to pool resources and address shared issues.

    Do you think that Michigan has the support or the will to start local government reform?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I could go on and on regarding this topic.

    For a different perspective, please see this report by Wendel Cox that was commissioned by the Michigan Townships Association.

    http://www.michigantownships.org/dow...aperforweb.pdf

    I don't necessarily have a solid opinion on this topic, but that that we should look at it from both sides.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I do believe that there was a factual error in that article, saying that only Pennsylvania has more local governments than Michigan. From at least what I am aware of, Illinois has the highest raw number of separate units of local government with taxing authority and Wisconsin leads all 50 in the number of such units to population ratio.

    Yes, Wisconsin is in SERIOUS need of local government reform, too.

    As for those township officials whom seem to be running around like a bunch of 'Chicken Littles' over the thought of local government reform - perhaps their response is the best confirmation of the wisdom of such an idea.

    An adage that I have firmly believed in for many years:

    "Those office holders whom most vociferously object to the elimination of their own offices
    a) hold offices that are the least worthy of being retained, and
    b) are the least worthy of holding such offices.

    Office holding is a humbling privilege, *NOT* a birthright."

    Mike

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    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    The incentive program idea may happen, but anything that smacks of the removal of local governments' rights will be crushed. For better or for worse (usually worse IMO), Michganders will have to deal with local township governments.

    I see it all the time. It's easy to talk about regional cooperation, but it's almost never done at the expense of any individual government's power.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    To answer the question posed of will Michigan local governments consolidate the answer is no. They do often cooperate. 425 agreements are executed and some areas are starting to see the benefit.

    I think the last time two municipalities combined in Michigan was in 1982 when Battle Creek City and BC Township merged to save Kellogg from moving to Chicago.

    Michigan should allow cities to annex parts of township through nothing more than a vote of the city council and a vote of the citizens of the area being annexed. This will allow cities to grow and avoid people living in the township to avoid city taxes but take advantage of the infrastructure.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    It is an interesting concept. There are a few small towns on the east side of the state that are doing some regional planning. But then you have extremely different places that have a significant contrast such as Kalamazoo and Portage, Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

    In the long run, I think that it would be a great idea and help to protect many of our urban cores. Our cities are made up of several smaller municipalities that conglomerated to form larger units, but the annexation process does not work all that well anymore.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Besides 425 agreements, there are a couple examples of local governments taking advantage of new enabling legislation in the state and entering into a joint plan. A group of locals in SW Washtenaw county either just passed or are on the verge of passing resolutions that will abolish their individual planning commissions and create a joint planning commission. Still seperate governments and zoning ordinances though.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    While I generally respect Wendell Cox, the report that he wrote for the Michigan Townships Association (http://www.michigantownships.org/dow...aperforweb.pdf) seems very misleading to me.

    These are the issues I have with his piece:
    1. He notes that states with more levels of local government (MI, PA, WI, OH) actually have lower expeditures per capita over the past few years (2002 through 2006) than states with fewer local governments.

    Well of course these states have lower expenditures per capita during that period than other states... Save for a few bright spots in each of them, these states have been hit particularly hard by the economy since 2001 and have less money to spend per citizen!

    2. Next, he continually compares areas that have consolidated to areas that have not consolidated and shows that expenditures and debt per capita are higher in areas that have had consolidation. I think a more relevent comparrision would be the expenditures and debt of the same city before and after consolidation (and maybe instead of using only per capita numbers, why not also look at per square mile numbers? I think looking at per square mile costs would be especially useful in measuring things like fire and police services).

    3. He also points out that consolidations that were supposed to help out struggling urban centers have not met expectations and that median household incomes have fallen in a lot of areas after consolidation (i.e. Jacksonville, FL and Indianappolis, IN).

    (Small disclaimer: on this issue, I may be completly wrong because I am not as familiar with either of these locations as I am with other MSA's) I think it would be expected that the median incomes would fall in these cities after a consolidation with outlying areas. While both Jacksonville and Indianappolis likely both had some affluent suburban areas that may have been gobbled up by consolidation, I was under the impression that these two consolidations stretched out into some rather ex-urban and downright rural areas which could have had some pockets of rather poor residents in them (I know some of the rural areas around Jacksonville always seemed to me to be some of the most neglected areas in all of Florida). Also, if I recall the stats from the BEA correctly, MHI (after adjusting for inflation) has been falling in many parts of the country over the past decade so these areas should really be no exception. How about looking at some quality of life metrics for the residents in these areas before and after consolidation?

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