Lake Huron has Highest Number of Beach Advisories/Closures

On July 8, 2018 there were 23 beach closures throughout the State of Michigan, three of which were in the Southeastern Michigan region. These were Newburgh Lake in Wayne County, Fox Lake in Oakland County and the Lake St. Clair Metropark Beach in Macomb County. Thus far in 2018, the Lake St. Clair Metropark Beach has been closed for a total of 25 days due to high bacteria levels, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The earliest closure for Lake St. Clair Metropark Beach began on May 31, 2018 and lasted for three days. The most recent closure was announced on June 21, 2018 and it remains closed. According to the MDEQ, advisories or closures are most commonly issued due to elevated counts of E. coli in water samples collected from the shoreline of a water body. Health departments use the daily and 30-day geometric mean to determine if a beach closure or advisory should be issued; for E. coli that average is 300 milliliters. E. coli contaminations often occur from storm water, sanitary sewer overflow and wildlife (such as excrement left from Canadian Geese). Below are three charts showing the number of beach advisories/closures (formally referred to as actions) taken between 2012-2017 on beaches monitored along Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake St. Clair and Lake Superior. It is important to note that not all beaches along the Great Lakes (and Lake St. Clair) are monitored. Local health departments and non-profits receive federal and state grant funding to monitor beaches. Monitoring must occur on beaches for which grant funding is provided for. The first chart below shows the percentage of monitored beaches across the state that had an advisory between 2013-2017. The highest percentage of actions occurred in 2015 at 25 percent; most recently the percentage of actions reported in 2017 was 18 percent. The 10-year average was 21.5 percent.

When looking at the sheer number of actions by lake, Lake Huron has regularly had the most number of advisory/closures since 2013, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. In 2017, 18 were reported, a decrease from the high of 29 in 2015.

The final chart below details the number of closures and advisories issued for Lake St. Clair Metropark, due to its regularity of closures compared to other monitored beaches in Southeastern Michigan. As noted earlier, Lake St. Clair Metropark often has a Canadian Geese problem, and it is regularly noted in media outlets that the excrement from these birds contribute to the high E. coli levels in the water samples. To deter the number of geese at the beach, the Metropark has enlisted the help of three dogs to chase away the geese.

As the St. Clair Beach Metropark takes steps to deter a contributor to its closures, the State also began using a rapid testing method to identify E. coli contamination faster. The method identifies and measures E. coli DNA and provides results on the same day it is collected; the more traditional method provides results up to three days later. Currently, according to the MDEQ, there are 12 labs in the state able to perform this method.

More Underfunded Retiree Healthcare Plans than Pension Plans in Southeastern Michigan

In Southeastern Michigan more government entities were found to have underfunded retiree healthcare plans than the number of government entities with underfunded pension plans. According to the data provided by the Michigan Department of Treasury there were 50 underfunded retiree healthcare systems of the 183 government entities that had provided their financial information to the State as of June 9, 2018. A government entity’s retiree healthcare plan is deemed underfunded by the State if it is less than 40 percent funded and has an annual contribution greater than 12 percent of government funds.

Of the municipalities that were deemed funded by the State, Rose Township had the highest funding percentage for municipalities at 331 percent. Other municipalities with retiree healthcare funding above 100 percent are:

Municipalities

  • Rose Township: 331%
  • Groveland Township: 197%
  • Algonac: 163%
  • Oakland County: 127%
  • Detroit: 121%
  • Macomb Township: 114%
  • Royal Oak: 107%
  • Pontiac (Police and Fire): 105%
  • Milford: 104%
  • Farmington Hills: 100%

Special Districts

  • West Bloomfield Public Township Public Library: 147%
  • Brighton Area Fire Authority: 109%

While there was about a dozen different Southeastern Michigan government entities with more than 100 percent of the retiree healthcare plans funded, there were also 37 entities that had 0 percent of the retiree healthcare plan funded. However, not all of these entities were deemed underfunded, rather only 18 were. Not all government entities that fell below the 40 percent threshold were deemed underfunded due to the fact they were contributing less than 12 percent of their revenue to fund the plan. For example, the City of Brighton has 11 percent of its retiree healthcare funded, but according to the Michigan Department of Treasury, the city’s annual contribution to the plan is 10.4 percent of the City’s revenue. This is less than the 12 percent trigger point set by the State.

As with pension systems, funding retiree healthcare systems is vital not only to a government entity’s financial healthy, but also to retention and recruitment of employees.

 

Southeastern Michigan Communities Working to Fund Pension Systems

In 2017 the Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act was passed, with the goal of identifying the systems that are underfunded. According to the State of Michigan, a retirement fund is underfunded if less than 60 percent of the fund is funded, and there is an annual required contribution that is over 10 percent of governmental fund revenues. While 60 percent is the current threshold, there are discussions that eventually that number will continue to increase to 100 percent to more accurately reflect the funded status of a retirement plan. There are also thresholds that determine if a local government entity has an underfunded retiree health care system, an issue we will explore next week.

Currently, in the State of Michigan local government entities are facing, in total, over $18 billion in unfunded liabilities for retirement and retiree healthcare funds, according to the Reason Foundation. This foundation worked with the State of Michigan to develop the Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act and the reporting system that goes along with it.

The maps below provide details on what local government retirement plans are preliminary funded or underfunded in Southeastern Michigan, as determined by the Michigan Department of Treasury through implementation of the Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act. These are deemed preliminary due to the fact the new oversight body for determining funded, unfunded and waiver status must still review information submitted. Note, information is not displayed for all local government units in the region because not all units had provided their funding as of June 9, 2018. Additionally, some local government units beyond cities and townships are included in the data provided by the State, such as public safety retirement funds.

Of the 183 local government entities (this includes multiple funds for one municipality) that submitted their retirement funding information to the State for the Southeastern Michigan region, 37 of them were reported as having an underfunded status, or less than 60 percent of the retirement fund being funded. Of those that were reported as being underfunded, the majority of them had 45 percent or more the entity’s retirement system funded. However, there were five entities with 25 percent or less of the retirement system funded. These entities were:

  • Capac (St. Clair County): 24.2%
  • Highland Park General Employee fund: 2%
  • Highland Park Public Safety Fund: 3.7%
  • Highland Park Police and Fire Fund: 6.8%
  • Taylor City Housing Commission Authority: 0%

It should be noted that while the City of Taylor’s Housing Commission Authority retirement fund is underfunded, the City of Taylor’s general employee and police and fire retirement funds met State guidelines to be determined funded.

As part of the newly adopted State legislation related to retirement and retiree health care plans a Municipal Stability Board was created to review the corrective plans that underfunded entities must create and submit to the State. This board is housed under the Michigan Department of Treasury is made up of three individuals appointed by the governor. Corrective plans must be developed and submitted within 180 days of the State determining an entity’s retirement system is underfunded.

 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, while there were far more local government entities that were determined have funded retirement systems, than not, there were several that were more than 100 percent funded. The entities with the highest percentage of funding for their retirement funds were:

  • City of Ferndale (General Employees): 253%
  • City of Dearborn (Chapter 24): 239%
  • City of Pontiac (General Employees); 176%
  • City of Ypsilanti (General Employees) 126%
  • City of Grosse Pointe: 119%
  • City of Troy: 117%
  • Lima Township: 112%
  • City of Grosse Pointe Farms: 111%
  • City of Gibraltar (General Employees): 106%
  • City of Dearborn (General Employees): 104.3%
  • City of Mt. Clemens: 103%
  • Oakland County: 103%
  • City of Gibraltar (Public Safety): 102%
  • Groveland Township: 101%

Funding of retirement plans is vital for all local government entities as underfunded plans can lead to long-term financial troubles for a government entity, not excluding bankruptcy. Additionally, underfunded plans can also affect recruitment and retention of employees.

Unemployment Rates in Detroit,Region Take Recent Drop, Higher Than Previous Year

  • The unemployment rate decreased in Detroit and at the state level(monthly);
  • Regionally, April 2018 unemployment rates are higher than the prior year;
  • Housing prices continue to rise in Metro-Detroit.

In April of 2018 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 4, a decrease from the March unemployment rate of 4.6, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for April was 0.3 point above what it was in April of 2017.

The Detroit rate was 1.3 points lower in April of 2018 than in March. In April of 2018 Detroit’s unemployment rate was reported to be 7.4, this was .3 points higher than in April of 2017.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for April of 2017 and 2018. Monroe County was the only one in the seven county region to have a lower unemployment rate in 2018 than in 2017. In April of 2017 Monroe County’s unemployment rate was 3.7 and in 2018 in dropped slightly to 3.7.

In April of 2018 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 4.3, St. Clair County was only slightly below at 4.2. These two counties were the only two in the region to have unemployment rates about 3.5 in April of 2018. Washtenaw County had the lowest unemployment rate in the region at 2.8. Oakland County and Livingston County were the only other two counties in the region with an unemployment rate below 3.

While Livingston County had among the lowest unemployment rate in the region in April of 2018 it also had the largest increase in its unemployment rate between April 2017 and April 2018. In April 2017 the unemployment rate for Livingston County was 2.4 and in 2018 it increased to 2.9.

The above chart shows the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area. The index includes the price for homes that have sold but does not include the price of new home construction, condos, or homes that have been remodeled.

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $120,020 in March 2018; this was $1,220 higher than the average family dwelling price in February. The March 2018 price was an increase of $16,240 from March of 2016 and an increase of $22,120 from March of 2015 and an increase of $26,240 from March of 2014.

Pedestrian Deaths Out Number Cyclist Deaths in Southeastern Michigan

In 2017 there were more vehicle related crashes and fatalities involving pedestrians than there were ones involving bicycles in Southeastern Michigan. According to the data from the Michigan Department of Transportation, there were 1,226 crashes involving pedestrians in Southeastern Michigan in 2017 and 84 pedestrian fatalities. Regionally, Wayne County had the highest total number of pedestrian related crashes at 688. Oakland County had the second highest total number of pedestrian crashes at 213. Of the seven counties in the region, Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw and Macomb counties all had more than 100 involved pedestrian related crashes. Livingston County had the lowest number of pedestrian crashes at 17.

Just as Wayne County had the highest number of pedestrian crashes, it also had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities. In total, there were 38 pedestrian fatalities in Wayne County in 2017. Regionally, there were 84 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 and St. Clair County had the lowest at two. The map below shows the range of pedestrian accidents by color and presents the number of fatalities next to the county label.

The Detroit map below shows the total number of pedestrian crashes by city block in 2016. This data was provided by the Detroit Open Data portal. The block with the highest number of pedestrian crashes is on the Eight Mile border on the more eastern side of the City. However, you will see the highest concentration of pedestrian crashes was located in the downtown up through Midtown area.

Just as Wayne County had the highest number of pedestrian crashes, it also had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities. In total, there were 38 pedestrian fatalities in Wayne County in 2017. Regionally, there were 84 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 and St. Clair County had the lowest at two.

In 2017 there were 914 bicycle related crashes, with Wayne County having the highest total at 428. Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties were the only three counties in the region with more than 100 bicycle related crashes. Livingston County had the lowest total at 19. When examining the total number of bicycle related fatalities there were five in the region, with Macomb County having the highest total at two.

While fatalities for cyclists were lower than pedestrian fatalities, in recent years there has been an increase, according to an MLive analysis of fatality numbers. While no specific reason for the increase has been identified, cyclists are encouraged to yield at appropriate intersections, wear bright clothing and utilize bike lanes when possible. Additionally, motorists are also expected to pay attention and provide appropriate distance between their vehicle and a cyclist.

Southeastern Michigan Net Out-of-State Net Migration Far Lower than County-to-County Migration

Just as our previous post showed all seven counties in the Metro-Detroit region were gaining residents from other Michigan counties, additional data shows that growth goes beyond Michigan residents. According to 2015 Census data (the most recent migration data available), all counties in the seven county region had an overall net growth of residents, with the exception of Washtenaw County. According to the data, Washtenaw County had a net migration loss of five residents; there were 523 new residents who moved to Washtenaw County from outside of Michigan and 528 Washtenaw County residents who left the state for another. According to the data, Oakland County had the largest net gain of out-of-state residents at 1,661; 3,825 out-of-state residents moved to Oakland County in 2015 and 2,164 left Oakland County for another state. The only other county that had a net gain of more than 1,000 new residents was Wayne County. In total, 6,542 out-of-state residents moved into Wayne County in 2015 and 5,154 Wayne County residents left the state, meaning there was a net growth of 1,388 residents.

In comparing migration patterns between county-to-county in Michigan (previous post) and those moving in and out of the state, the data clearly shows migration within the state is much more common. For comparison, in 2016 there were 33,148 people who moved to Wayne County from other areas in Michigan while there were 6,542 out-of-state residents moved into Wayne County in 2015. In-state migration appears to be much easier for residents, but, as this post highlights, out of state migration into the seven county region is higher than those leaving the area for outside of Michigan.

Washtenaw County Sees Highest Percentage on In-State Population Influx

In 2016, Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of residents move into its boundaries in Southeastern Michigan, according to Census data. According to the data, 5.7 percent of the Washtenaw County population (or 20,213 people) was made up of residents who moved there from other counties in the State of Michigan in 2016. The large share of Washtenaw County residents that attend the University of Michigan from other counties in the state may help account for this result.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Wayne County had the lowest percentage of Michigan residents moving into the county from elsewhere in the state in 2016. According to the data, 1.9 percent of Wayne County’s population was made up of people who moved there from elsewhere in the State of Michigan. But, despite Wayne County having the lowest percentage of residents from elsewhere in Michigan move into its boundaries, it had the second highest overall number of people moving there. In total, there was an estimated 33,148 people who moved to Wayne County in 2016 from other areas in Michigan.

Oakland County was the only county in the region with a higher number of Michiganders who moved inside its boundaries in 2016. According to the Census data, there were 42,748 people from Michigan, outside of Oakland County, who moved to Oakland County in 2016. This number made up 3.5 percent of the Oakland County population.

In terms of sheer volume, Monroe County had lowest number of people move there from elsewhere in the state at 4,004 people; this was equivalent to 2.7 percent of its population.

While the map above shows the percentage of Michiganders who moved into a Southeastern Michigan county from elsewhere in the state in 2016, the map does not represent the net gain, or loss, of the migration in each county. Next week we will be diving deeper into the county-to-county migration in Southeastern Michigan to better understand how, and if, counties in the region are growing.

How Detroit is Tackling Rental Code Enforcement, Lead Remediation

The City of Detroit recognizes that lead poisoning prevention is multi-faceted, which is why an Interagency Lead Poisoning Prevention Task Force was created earlier this year, the same time the codes rental properties in the City were tightened. The task force will eventually align future rental code enforcement target ZIP codes with the zip codes where there is a high prevalence of elevated blood lead levels in children. Currently though, the rental code compliance program overseen by the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED) is focusing zip codes that do not have among the highest percentage of children 6 years of age and younger with lead poisoning.

The zip codes BSEED is currently enforcing compliance on are: 48215, 48224, 48223, 48219, 48209 and 48210. These six zip codes are the first priorities of the City’s new, stricter rental code ordinance that seeks to ensure all rental properties are properly registered, up to code and have obtained a certificate of compliance. One aspect of the new ordinance is that all rental properties, despite the length of their certificate of occupation, must have annual lead hazard inspections. According to the ordinance, the annual assessment can be waived only if the property owner has taken more long term or permanent measures to abate the lead.

 

While this ordinance does make lead assessments and abatements a priority for all rental properties, the zip codes identified to have among the highest percentage of children 6 years of age and younger are not included on the initial and current compliance schedule, which is available here (link to BSEED). According to the City of Detroit, the 48210 zip code is to be launched into the new compliance program on Aug. 1, 2018 and is scheduled to have all rental properties in compliance with the new ordinance by Feb 1, 2019. This is certainly a step in the right direction, however, the zip codes with among highest percentage of children with lead poisoning have yet to be placed on the compliance list. The City of Detroit does state though that all rental properties in the City must be in compliance with the new ordinance by the end of 2020.

 

The zip codes where recent data shows there is the highest prevalence of elevated blood lead levels in Detroit’s children are: 48202, 48204, 48206, 48213 and 48214. According to the City of Detroit Health Department, these zip codes will be included in the new rental property compliance program, but all also be part of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Pilot Program, which is being spearheaded by the Interagency Lead Poisoning Prevention Task Force. As part of this pilot program, there will be door-to-door outreach in the identified zip codes. This outreach will provide occupants, particularly those with children or who are pregnant, with information on how to identify potential lead hazards and protect themselves from the risks. Lead testing will also be provided through this program.

As the information above shows, the City of Detroit has taken steps through both rental code enforcement and direct outreach facilitated through the Health Department. However, direct coordination between the initial enforcement phase of the new rental property compliance ordinance and the Interagency Lead Poisoning Prevention Task Force has yet to fully materialize. The map below highlights just this. The zip codes in red are the ones the City has identified as having the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels in children. The zip codes in blue are the ones that have been identified for the most immediate rounds of registration and compliance for the new rental code.

The information provided in the map below is from the City of Detroit’s website.

Grosse Ile Schools Has Highest Graduation Rate in Southeastern Michigan

For the 2016-17 academic year, Grosse Ile Township Schools had the highest graduation rate in Southeastern Michigan of the school districts in Southeastern Michigan (this excludes charter schools) at 97.6 percent; the district had a 0 percent dropout rate that year as well. Universal Academy and Universal Learning Academy had the highest overall graduation rates in the region at 100 percent; both of these schools are charter schools with Universal Academy being located in Detroit and Universal Learning Academy being located in Westland. The Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy had the lowest graduation rate in the region at 5 percent. This academy is a charter school based in Detroit for youth who have been expelled from or referred by other school districts; according to the school’s website it is closing at the end of the academic year. Clinton Community Schools, a Macomb County School District, had the lowest graduation rate of all school districts (non-charter schools) in the region at 29 percent for the 2016-17 school year.

For the purpose of this post, charter schools were not mapped, only the school districts in the region, which is why you see the lowest graduation rate starting at 29 percent on the first map below. Charter schools are often a single school, and in several cases are online schools, making them difficult to map. Data for this post was provided by the Michigan Department of Education.

In total, there were only eight school districts in the region with graduation rates below 57.5 percent; four of these school districts were in Wayne County. The four school districts in Wayne County with the lowest graduation rates for the 2016-17 academic school year were:

  •             Westwood Community Schools (43.14%)
  •             Redford Union School District (52.9%)
  •             Romulus School District (54.5%)
  •             Harper Woods School District (57.5%)

While Wayne County had the most number of school districts in the bracket with the lowest graduation rates, Oakland County had the most number of districts with graduations rates in the highest bracket, which ranges from 90.8 percent to 97.6 percent. Aside from charter schools in Oakland County, Rochester Community Schools had the highest graduation rate at 96.1 percent in Oakland County. In total, there were 12 school districts in Oakland County with graduation rates between 90.8 percent and 96.1 percent.

 

The Detroit Public School District had a 72.9 percent graduation rate, with a dropout rate of 11 percent. No school district in the region (this excludes charter schools) had a dropout rate above 31 percent. Westwood Community Schools in Wayne County had the highest dropout rate for the 2016-17 academic year at 31 percent. According to the data, the Westwood Community Schools District had 79 dropouts in the 2016-17 academic year; the total number of students who graduated from that district that academic year was 110.

 

There were four school districts in the region with a 0 percent dropout rate. As mentioned earlier, Grosse Ile Township Schools was one of these districts, as was Birmingham, Whitmore Lake and Northville school districts.

 

Evictions Highest in Detroit, Inner-Suburbs

In 2016, the City of Harper Woods just northeast of Detroit, had the highest eviction rate in Southeastern Michigan, according to Eviction Lab. Eviction Lab is a nationwide data base created by Princeton University that shows formal evictions that have taken place throughout the country; these formal evictions are ones that occurred through the court system. In Harper Woods, the eviction rate was 9.9 percent per 100 rental units; this was equivalent to 175 formal evictions in 2016. The City of Dearborn Heights, which is just west of the City of Detroit, had an eviction rate of 9.82 percent per 100 rental units, which was equivalent to 502 total evictions.

The Top 5 Eviction Rates (per 100 rental units) in Southeastern Michigan by City were:

  • Harper Woods: 9.9
  • Dearborn Heights: 9.82
  • Bellevue 9.44
  • Ecorse: 9.29
  • Inkster: 8.18

No data was available for the townships in the above map with the very light green.

While inner-ring suburbs ranked the highest for eviction rates in Southeastern Michigan, the City of Detroit had the most evictions in terms of sheer volume. In total, there were 6,664 formal evictions in the City of Detroit in 2016; this was equivalent to an eviction rate of 5.2 percent per 100 rental units.

When examining eviction rates at a Census Tract level in Detroit, the data shows that there were only four Census Tracts with eviction rates above 11 percent. Two of these Census Tracts were located on the City’s west side and the other two were located on the far east side of the City. The majority of the central part of Detroit, and into Southwest Detroit, did not have formal eviction rates above 5.3 percent in 2016, according to the data. The west of the City had the highest concentration of formal eviction rates above 7.7 percent.

Understanding eviction rates for the City of Detroit, and the region, is important because this data further demonstrates how income inequality affects the citizens of Southeastern Michigan. Evictions occur when a rental tenant is involuntary removed from his or her home. Evictions can occur due to the tenant’s inability to pay rent, along with reasons such as property damage and taking on boarders. Clearly though, there is a relationship between income and evictions. For low-income families, a single monetary emergency can mean a missed rent payment, and ultimately eviction. As can be seen in the first map, many of the cities in Southeastern Michigan with a 0 percent eviction rate are those with higher than average median incomes, such as Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham. Detroit, Ecorse and Inkster are among the cities in Southeastern Michigan that do not have such socioeconomic characteristics. Rather, Detroit, Ecorse and Inkster have among the lowest median incomes in the region and some of the highest eviction and poverty rates.

This discussion on eviction rates will certainly be part of our overall poverty review of Southeastern Michigan, which will also examine median incomes, poverty rates, homeowner status and education levels.

To understand the dynamics and consequences of eviction for the poor, see: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.