Where Did the Vote Break in Southeastern Michigan?

Republican areas saw marginally increased turnout between the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections increased. The focus of that increase was southern Macomb County and the Downriver area in Wayne County. Conversely, the traditionally Democratic areas in Wayne County experienced some of the largest voter turnout decreases. Detroit saw especially large decreases.


In Macomb County, eight of the communities experienced a voter turnout decrease between the 2012 and 2016 Presidential elections. It was Chesterfield Township that experienced the largest decrease in the county at 5.35 percent while Ray Township experienced the largest increase at 2.46 percent. Although Warren and Sterling Heights have been noted for having several precincts flip from Democratic to Republican between the two Presidential elections, both cities had areas that remained Democratic in 2016. Sterling Heights experienced a 2.7 percent voter turnout decrease in 2016 and Warren experienced a 1.5 percent decrease. St. Clair Shores is another city in southern Macomb County that flipped from Democratic to Republican and here voter turnout increased by 1.6 percent.

While the changes are complicated, it appears that areas in the county to the south that shifted to the GOP are also areas where turnout declined. Likely Democrats would have benefitted by a better Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign.


In Oakland County we have highlighted how higher income communities like Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham flipped from being Republican in the 2012 presidential election to Democratic in the 2016 election. These communities though experienced a voter turnout decrease between the two elections, as did majority of the Oakland County communities that went Democratic in 2016. With the exceptions of Ferndale, Madison Heights and Clawson, all of the Democratic communities experienced a voter turnout decrease in 2016. Ferndale had the largest voter turnout increase in the county at 11.6 percent while Berkley had the largest decrease at 23.7 percent.

Republican communities in Oakland County weren’t exempt from experiencing a voter turnout decrease in 2016, however the decreases weren’t as widespread or large.


Wayne County communities experienced some of the largest decreases in voter turnout in 2016, with Inkster experiencing a 26 percent decrease, River Rouge experiencing a 23 percent decrease and Redford and Detroit experiencing 11 percent decreases, each. Again, these communities all went Democratic in the 2016 election; they also went Democratic in the 2012 election.

Throughout much of Downriver though, an area that flipped from Democratic to Republican, an increase in voter turnout occurred. In that area, Rockwood had the largest increase at 7 percent. The city of Flat Rock did flip from Democratic to Republican between the two elections, but experienced a 16.36 percent voter turnout decrease.

Hamtramck and Highland Park experienced the largest voter turnout increases in Wayne County; Hamtramck had a 12 percent increase and Highland Park had an 11 percent increase. Both cities went Democratic in the 2012 and 2016 elections.


In Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor Township had the highest voter turnout increase at 3.37 percent; this community went Democratic in both elections. The only Washtenaw County community that went Democratic in the 2016 election and experienced a voter turnout increase was Sylvan Township; it had a 0.37 percent increase. There were several Republican communities in Washtenaw County too though that experienced voter turnout increases. For example, Northfield Township experienced a 19.6 percent voter turnout decrease.


Overall, the data shows that there were very few communities in Southeastern Michigan that experienced large voter turnout increases (above 10 percent). The marginal increases though occurred in areas that went Republican in the 2016 Presidential election, particularly in northern Macomb County, St. Clair County and the Downriver area in Wayne County.

Percentage of Female City Managers in Metro-Detroit Below Average

The percentage of females who serve as city managers in Southeastern Michigan is below the national average. In Southeastern Michigan, 10 percent of the cities with city managers had those positions filled by females. According to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), a 2012 survey administered by this professional management organization found that about 20 percent of chief administrative officers in local government are females. Additionally, ICMA membership records show that 15 percent of the organization’s members in 2016 were female city managers.

In Southeastern Michigan there are 233 municipalities (not including counties or special districts), most of which are townships. Typically, the chief administrative officer in a township is the township supervisor, which is an elected position (more on this can be found in a past post). There are about 75 cities in Southeastern Michigan, but again, not all have city managers. Cities like Detroit and Warren have a strong mayor form of government, meaning the elected mayor serves as the chief administrative officer. Of the 69 cities with a council-manager form of government, only six had a female city manager, according to information found on each city’s website.

The largest city in Southeastern Michigan with a female city manager is Ferndale, which is located in southern Oakland County with a population of about 20,000. April Lynch has served as the Ferndale’s City Manager since 2011. The other cities with female city managers are: Belleville, Hamtramck, Lathrup Village, South Lyon and Rockwood.

In addition to cities and townships, villages are another form of local government in Michigan. In the map below these communities with chief administrative officers are also highlighted. Of the six villages in Southeastern Michigan with a village administrator one has a female serving in that position (not all villages have such a chief administrative officer-many villages have small populations, and the village president serves as the chief administrative officer). The village with a female administrator is the Village of Bingham Farms, which is located in Oakland County and has a population of about 1,100.


As noted in our recent elected officials post, more than 50 percent of the country’s population is made up of females, but a much smaller number of females serve in elected positions, and as this post shows, are selected to lead local government. This conversation is being raised by organizations such as ICMA and Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL). Locally though, more conversations need to take place to at least put Southeastern Michigan in line with or above the national average, so there is a more inclusive and representative pool of local government leaders.


Southeastern Michigan Revenue Sharing Declines Between 2015 and 2016

Municipalities across Michigan have experienced a decline in Revenue Sharing funds in recent years as monies have been diverted toward the State’s General Fund. Between Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 the municipalities in Southeastern Michigan experienced an average decline in revenue sharing of 0.59 percent. For Fiscal Year 2017 though, the state is expecting to increase revenue sharing monies by 1.2 percent in Southeastern Michigan, on average. The purpose of this post is to show how Revenue Sharing payments declined between 2015 and 2016 and how the capita disbursement varies between communities.

The funding map below refers to the total amount of Revenue Sharing each municipality received in 2016-this total combines both the Constitutional and Revenue Sharing Funds. For the Constitutional Revenue Sharing Payment there is a total distribution rate, which has declined over the last several years. For FY 2016 the rate was 75.694800 and in FY 2015 that rate was 76.1932l; in FY 2017 it is projected to be 76. 921299. For a municipalities’ total annual Constitutional Revenue Sharing payment to calculated, the total rate is multiplied by the 2010 population for each city, village and township, despite the fact some municipalities’ populations may have increased since then. The state determines the Constitutional Rate using 15 percent of the gross 4-percent sales-tax collections (the other 2 percent of Michigan’s gross sales-tax collections are designated for educational purposes). This means 15 percent of state sales tax revenue should be distributed to Michigan’s municipalities. Using Detroit as an example, the 2010 population was 712,552. This is multiplied by 75.698400, bringing the total Constitutional Revenue Sharing amount that Detroit was to be awarded in 2016 to $53,939,054. Detroit’s Constitutional Revenue Sharing payment for 2016 accounted for about 28 percent of the Revenue Sharing Funds it was awarded.


  • 2016 Constitutional Revenue Sharing Payment= 2010 Population x 75.6984
  • 2016 Detroit Constitutional Revenue Sharing Payment of $53,939,054= 712,552 x 75.698400

In addition to Constitutional Revenue Sharing, there is also Statutory Revenue Sharing, which for Fiscal Years 2015, 2016 and 2017 have been called CVT (City, Village and Township) Payments. For 2015 and 2016, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury, payments were based on whether or not a municipality met specific Accountability and Transparency requirements. If these requirements were, met a municipality was eligible to receive up to 78.51044 percent of their 2010 total statutory payment, or a payment equal to the population multiplied by $2.64659-whichever was greater. The formula for 2010 statutory payments was the total amount a municipality received in FY 2009 multiplied by 88.94 percent, less the FY 2010 Constitutional amount, multiplied by the FY 2010 statutory payment percentage, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

For the City of Detroit it was awarded $140,463,452 in Statutory Revenue Sharing in 2016. This number was calculated by multiplying its total 2010 Statutory Revenue Sharing payment of $178,910,540 by .7851044 (max eligible percentage of 2010 Statutory Payment). In total, Detroit’s Statutory Revenue Sharing Payment accounted for 72 percent of its total Revenue Sharing Payment.


  • 2016 Statutory Revenue Sharing Payment=2010 Statutory Revenue Sharing payment x .7851044 (max eligible percentage of 2010 Statutory Payment)
  • 2016 Detroit Statutory Payment= $178,910,540 x .7851044=$140,463,452

While Michigan’s Constitutional Revenue Sharing remains enshrined in the State’s Constitution, Statutory Revenue Sharing formulas are subject to regular legislative modification.  Constitutional Revenue Sharing rates can decrease when overall revenue declines, as it tends to during recessions, or when the population of a municipality declines. However, Constitutional Revenue Sharing payments are not subject to the changes Statutory Revenue Sharing payments experience. For example, just between 2014 and 2015 Statutory Revenue Sharing payments went from being called Economic Vitality Incentive Program Payments, where a municipality could receive up to 76.18459 percent of its 2010 Statutory Payment if it met three conditions (Accountability and Transparency, Consolidation of Services, and Employee Compensation) to City, Village and Township Revenue Sharing Payments. As noted above, the current Statutory Payment formula is based on whether or not a municipality met only Accountability and Transparency requirements. Also the percentage rate is 78.51044 percent of a communities’ 2010 total statutory payment. As noted above, there were no changes between the 2015 and 2016 Statutory Revenue Sharing formula.

As shown below, Revenue Sharing payments vary between municipalities, at least in part, due to the fact the Constitutional Revenue Sharing rates are based off of population numbers. Revenue Sharing payments for FY 2016 ranged between about $20,000 (Emmett Village in St. Clair County with a population of 323) to above $194 million (Detroit with a population of about 700,000). As the map shows, Detroit had the largest Revenue Sharing payment in the region, with Ann Arbor, Warren and Sterling Heights coming in behind Detroit for payment amounts. The more rural communities, with the lesser populations, also received lesser total Revenue Sharing payments.


As noted, the average overall Revenue Sharing decline in Southeastern Michigan between 2015 and 2016 was .59 percent. While the map below shows the overall Revenue Sharing payment change between 2015 and 2016, the contributing factor was the decrease in the Constitutional Revenue Sharing rate between 2015 and 2016; the Statutory Revenue Sharing formula remained the same. Also, one of the more notable trends demonstrated in the second map, below, is that municipalities in the region currently, or previously, deemed financially unstable experienced less of a decline in Revenue Sharing than majority of the other municipalities in the region. This is due to FY 2016 $5 million Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships Grant Program, which was created to help financially struggling municipalities move toward financial stability. As part of this program, the Michigan Legislature mandated that a single municipality should not receive more than $2 million. Cities such as Ecorse, Inkster and Highland Park were recipients of this grant, boosting the total amount of Revenue Sharing funds they were appropriated.

Inkster experienced a .38 percent decline, Ecorse experienced a .34 percent decline, and Highland Park experienced a .23 percent decline. Although Detroit was not a recipient of this grant, it experienced a .18 percent decline; the smallest in the region.


In 2016 the projected amount of Revenue Sharing Detroit was to receive was $194,402,506, as demonstrated in the first map above. This translates to $279.54 per person in the city, which is shown in the map below. That number was calculated by taking the projected 2016 Revenue Sharing dollars and dividing it by the most recent population numbers provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The only other community in the region that received a higher per capita amount of Revenue Sharing dollars was Oxford Township in Oakland County ($383). In total, there were 27 municipalities throughout the region with a per capita Revenue Sharing amount above $100 per person.


In the our next post, we will take a deeper look as to how Revenue Sharing payments have declined over time in Southeastern Michigan. We know that payments have declined over the last several years and will be able to see some of the hardest hit communities in Southeastern Michigan.

Locals Push Ahead as Michigan Takes Steps Backward for LGBT Inclusivity

Just over a year ago love won nationwide when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. County courthouses across Michigan began issuing marriage licenses to those who wanted a legally recognized union, despite their sexual orientation and gender identity. However, even such a monumental move toward equality didn’t serve as a catalyst for the State of Michigan to make strides to secure other basic human rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. In fact, state level statutes have failed to recognize equality for the LGBT community, whereas at the local level various officials are working to ensure comprehensive civil rights policies exist in the areas they have jurisdiction over.

Currently, there are 46 Michigan cities and counties, combined, which provide some type of employment and/or housing discrimination protection to the LGBT community. Fourteen of these local government entities, including three counties, are located in Southeastern Michigan. Just in Southeastern Michigan, those 11 communities with inclusive non-discrimination policies make up 23 percent of the region’s population. The three counties with such policies-Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne-make up 64 percent of the population. But, while these efforts deserve to be applauded, many of the policies are by no means comprehensive. At the municipal level expanded civil rights policies are to be adhered to by all employers and/or housing providers. This isn’t necessarily the case at the county level though. Macomb County’s human rights policy is only extended to the county’s 2,200 current and potential employees; its contracting policy doesn’t even reflect the changes.

Both historical and recent policies, and lack thereof, at the state level have created a culture that lacks inclusion and basic human rights protections. Currently the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act (the state’s non-discrimination policy) does not include sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Attempts to amend this statewide civil rights act have occurred since 1973 (a year after East Lansing and Ann Arbor adopted their policies), the most recent being 2014. The proposed 2014 amendments aimed to add exactly what is missing, however those amendments were never approved in the legislature. This lack of action and support for basic human rights continues to leave Michigan without a blanket discrimination protection for the LGBT community and a political gesture toward inclusivity.

Although the legislature failed take action on the Elliott Larsen Act, in the summer of 2015 three Religious Freedom Adoption bills became law, allowing religious organizations to deny placement of a child in a home based on religious grounds. These bills did not have direct language against the LGBT community but it can be argued they are, at least in part, targeted at by these bills. State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine said the bills were meant to protect the public-private partnership that allows Michigan to have an 80 percent adoption rate. She said,  by making the then proposed bills law, no agency would have to choose “between their faith and helping children.” The Human Rights Campaign said these laws make it even more difficult for LGBT couples to adopt, particularly as the Michigan Catholic Conference and Bethany Christian Services make up 25-30 percent of adoptions that occur in Michigan, according to information provided by Gov. Snyder’s office to the Washington Blade (link). These laws may have protected those public-private partnerships, but they also opened up another avenue for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Not even a year later it seems another door toward discriminatory practices could open. Proposed House Bill 5717 and Senate Bill 993, which were introduced to the Legislature a few months ago, aim to keep the use of public school restrooms restricted to those with the same biological sex; SB 993 goes as far as relying on chromosomes). Anatomy and gender are not one in the same, and while the supporters of these bills claim they are trying to protect the children, the effect is likely to be discrimination against them.

Michigan citizens do not have access to fair employment, housing and family planning options because of their sexual orientation or gender identification, and that soon may be extended to the use of the restroom. Yes, there have been concentrated attempts at the local level to broaden access to these basic human rights for over 30 years. However, some of the State’s elected leaders continue to build walls, including between children, even as local government entities and the nation tirelessly work toward acceptance and inclusivity.

Below is a timeline and a map showing the most recent years in which a Michigan municipality implemented a more comprehensive non-discrimination policy that addresses equal employment and/or housing rights based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

Items to note:

  • East Lansing was the first local government entity in the nation to enact to include sexual orientation in its civil rights protections. East Lansing expanded its original 1972 policy that provided employment protections based on sexual orientation to include housing protections in 1986 and to include gender identity in 2005. Since 2005 was the most recent policy amendment East Lansing is listed under 2005 in the timeline and on the map.
  • Ann Arbor adopted policies that provided residents employment and housing protections in 1972; in 1999 it expanded those protections to include gender identity. Ann Arbor is listed as amending its policies in 1999, not 1972, because that was the most recent change.
  • Detroit updated its initial 1979 employment and housing protections beyond sexual orientation to include gender identity in 2008. Detroit is listed as adopting comprehensive non-discrimination policies in 2008 because, again, that was the most recent year they were updated.

Slide14 LGBT

Part I: Metro-Detroit’s shift toward regionalism starts with Metroparks, speeds up with economic downturn

Regionalism in Southeastern Michigan began to take shape in the 1930s, but it was not until the financial decline of Detroit and the broader region, that multi-jurisdictional authorities truly began to take over an array of services.
The oldest extant regional entity formed in Southeastern Michigan is the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority. Enabled by the Michigan State Legislature in 1939 by Public Act No. 147, the residents of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties approved the authority the following year. In 1942, funding for the parks became available, according to the authority’s history. Since that time the authority has grown to oversee 13 metroparks, which together encompass more than 25,000 acres. The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is governed by a seven-member board; two members are appointed by the governor and the other five are appointed by the Board of Commissioners of the member counties. Currently, all of the metroparks are supported by a 0.2146 mill levy on the residents of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties. This levy is equivalent to $10.73 for a home valued at $100,000 ($50,000 taxable value).


Southeast Michigan took an additional step toward regional cooperation more than 25 years later (1968) by establishing the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). This regional planning entity, along with other regional planning organizations in the state of Michigan, was authorized by Public Act 281 of 1945.

According to its website, SEMCOG partners with local government entities—ranging from villages to cities to counties to community colleges—to better improve the area’s waterways, transportation systems and economic vitality. In addition, according to the Clean Air Act and the Water Pollution Control Act, SEMCOG is the region’s planning agency for water and air quality. SEMCOG has also been responsible for the region’s transportation planning.

For SEMCOG, communities choose whether or not they want to be members of regional planning entity. As of the end of 2015 there were 168 different government entities that were SEMCOG members. In Macomb County, Ray Township, along with the townships of Armada, Bruce and Richmond are not SEMCOG members despite their neighbors like Washington and Macomb townships being members. In Oakland County, Pontiac is not a SEMCOG member despite it being surrounded by members.


Despite the existence of regional entities, cooperation among cities and counties in Southeastern Michigan was very limited during much of the 20th century. But Michigan’s economic downturn in the 2000s weakened some of the region’s strongest institutions as they began to face financial problems. One of the first organizations to seek public support through a regional millage was the Detroit Zoo. Once completely owned and operated by the city of Detroit, zoo operations were transferred to the Detroit Zoological Society in 2006. This decision came after the city voted to close it for financial reasons, and the Michigan Legislature promised to provide $4 million to the society for operational aid, according to a 2005 Crain’s Detroit article. Then in 2008, the Michigan Legislature approved Public Act 49, allowing counties to establish a zoological authority and contract for zoological services. The act also gives the counties the authority to levy up to 0.1 mill, with voter approval, for such services. In the same year Public Act 49 was passed (2008), the voters of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties were asked to approve a 10-year 0.1 millage, which equals to $5 a year for a home valued at $100,000 (taxable value of $50,000). All three counties approved the millages:

  • Wayne County: 73.15% yes
  • Oakland County: 74.88% yes
  • Macomb County: 66.5% yes

Each of the three counties has its own zoo authority, whose members are appointed by their county commissions or by the county executive office. In Oakland County, the board of commissioners appoints the members; in Macomb County the County Executive makes the appointment recommendation but the Board of Commissioners must confirm; and in Wayne County the executive makes the appointment. Each authority is charged with administering the funds levied from the millage to the Detroit Zoo.

The successful 2008 request for financial support was not the first time the Detroit Zoo sought public assistance through tax dollars, though. In 2000 and 2002 millages were placed on the ballot; Wayne County supported those requests and Oakland County did not, causing them to fail. Macomb County did not participate.

The 2008 millage, which was passed to support operations at the zoo, contributed to 36 percent of the organization’s operational budget in 2014, according to its 2014 financial report. The breakdown of the percentage of millage funds provided to the zoo from each county in 2014 were as follows:

  • Wayne County: 13%
  • Oakland County: 16%
  • Macomb County: 8%
  • (64% funds earned revenue and through fundraising)

Following the regional support for The Detroit Zoo another regional authority was created—this one intended to support Detroit’s Cobo Hall. In September of 2009 the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority was formed through passage of Public Act 554 in 2008, which allowed the creation of regional convention facility authorities. This regional authority was formed at a time when the North American International Auto Show threatened to abandon Cobo Hall and Southeast Michigan due to the facility’s size and aging infrastructure, according to a New York Times article. Detroit could no longer financially maintain the convention center at a level that would allow it to host such an international attraction.


When the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority was formed, so was a governing body to oversee the regional authority. The governing body is a five-member board with representatives from the City of Detroit, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and an appointee from the Governor’s Office. This body oversees the 30-year capital lease of Cobo Hall (the facility is leased from Detroit), which includes a $299 million expansion/upgrade project. The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority receives funding from revenues at Cobo Center as well as support from the state’s Convention Fund.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) authorities (one each in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) were also created during the 2008 economic downturn to help establish a more reliable base for operations funding for the Detroit Institute of Art. Public Act 296 of 2010 gave each of the three counties the ability to levy up to $10 for a home valued at $100,000 (taxable value of $50,000), with the support of voters, to support “an encyclopedic [comprehensive] art museum whose primary art collection and facility. . . are owned by a municipality located in the state.” Similar to the Detroit Zoo authorities, each county board and/or executive appoints members to its respective authority to oversee the funds brought in through the millage.

In November of 2012 majority of Wayne County (67%), Oakland County (64%) and Macomb County (50.5%) approved the 10-year, 0.2 mill proposal that allows free general admission to residents of the tri-county area. Other benefits of the now-established regional authority include free bussing for school field-trips and senior citizen trips, along with the Inside-Out Program, which brings reproduced pieces of art to area communities.

The approval of the millage meant increased funding for the DIA, along with increased attendance. In 2014, according to the DIA’s Community Relations Report, the institute has about 300,000 total visitors from the tri-county area. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Wayne County: 141,659 = 47% of total visitors
  • Oakland County: 106,433 = 36%
  • Macomb County: 51,834 = 17%

While the DIA millage may still seem to receive the most attention, with concerns over raises and transparency, it certainly was not the end of Southeastern Michigan’s increased shift toward regionalism. Over the next two weeks we will also explore the region’s history of fragmented regional transportation and shift from the region’s reliance on Detroit for water and sewer services to a more collaborative approach.

General Law Townships predominant government structure in Southeastern Michigan

In this post we examine the types of government structures that exist in Southeastern Michigan. Throughout Michigan there are five types of municipalities including: Mayor-Council and Manager-Council (both of which are for cities), Charter Township and General Law Township, and villages. In addition to showing what type of government structures exist in Southeastern Michigan in a map below, we also detail how those different structures work and offer some reasons a community chooses one structure rather than another.

Wayne County has the largest number of municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, while the more rural communities on the outskirts of the region are predominantly General Law Townships. In total, there are 22 municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, in this form the mayor serves as the chief administrator for the city), 10 of which are located in Wayne County. It is General Law Townships though that are the most common form of government in the region, with 72 communities being organized as one of Michigan’s earliest form of governments.

Charter Townships make up 19 percent (41) of government structures in Southeastern Michigan while Council-Manager forms of government makeup 29 percent (65) of the types of government structure that exists in the region. There are 20 villages in the region.

While Wayne County has more communities that operate with a Council-Manager form of government, and the largest number of cities, General Law Townships predominate along the outer edges of the region.

The Differences

As noted, General Law Townships are the most common form of government structure in Southeastern Michigan; all townships are General Law Townships unless incorporated in a Charter Township. General Law Townships were given the option to receive a Charter Township status beginning in 1947 when the State Legislature approved the Charter Township Act. This classification, according to the Michigan Township Association, allows for a more streamlined administration.

According to the Michigan Township Association, townships (both general law and charter) can only exercise powers given to them by state law. All townships are required to collect taxes, administer their local elections and perform property assessments. They also have the option to enact and enforce ordinances, offer local fire and police protection services, and operate parks and recreation programs, among other things, according to the Michigan Township Association. Additionally, all townships are governed by a Supervisor, Clerk, Treasurer and two or four trustees.

In terms of levying millages, General Law Townships are allocated at least 1 mill from the 15/18 mills that counties, townships, public schools and intermediate school districts receive, according to the Macomb Township website. Charter Townships though do not receive this same millage allocation. Rather, if they were chartered by a referendum, they can levy up to 5 mills. But if a township was chartered by a board resolution after 1978, then the voters must vote on whether or not a proposed 5 mills can be levied. Under either circumstance, townships can also levy up to 10 mills, but this must be approved by the voters, according to the Macomb Township website.

Townships are part of Michigan’s early history and began to be created in 1790 throughout the Midwest region as a way to help govern land throughout what is now the Midwest region, according to the National Township Association. In the Midwest, according to the National Township Association, townships are typically more rural, as we saw with majority of the General Law Townships being located on the outskirts of the seven-county. Also, according to the Michigan Township Association, a Charter Township status can help prevent a township from being annexed by a neighboring city. Several weeks ago we took a look at how the city of Detroit became the size it is today through annexation. When looking at the map in this post we see that the only township touching the Detroit border is Redford Township and that is a Charter Township. Additionally, we see that throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, where the majority of the region’s cities are located, the majority of the cities border Charter Townships, as opposed to General Law Townships.


Unlike townships, cities must not only perform the same state mandated functions as townships, but they must also provide their own services, such as snow plowing, police and fire services (these services can be contracted out or shared between municipalities). According to the Michigan Municipal League, cities are given a greater amount of independence in how they regulate, in large part because of the Home Rule City Act; this allows cities to enact a charter which provides the framework for how that particular city functions.

The City of Detroit is the most recognizable example of the Strong Mayor type of city government in the region. A Strong Mayor type of government is one in which the mayor acts as the city’s top administrator, serves on a full-time basis, and has the authority to appoint and remove top officials. He or she also typically has some sort of veto power, but the council is the acting legislative body, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

In the Council-Manager form of government the council appoints a chief administrative officer, often known as the City Manager. This person is professionally trained on the day-to-day operations of a city and is often looked to for recommendations by the council regarding policy making.


In addition to townships and cities, there are also villages in the state of Michigan. Villages, which are the least common structure of government in Southeastern Michigan, also come in two forms: General Law and Home Rule. General Law villages, which are the most common, have a village president, which is an elected position, but it is the department heads who typically oversee the day-to-day administrative functions of the municipality. With a Home Rule Village, the president does not need to be elected by the citizens but can be appointed by the council; this person is often referred to as the village manager, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

Population, loss of state income play role in distribution of revenue sharing funding

In the last post we examined how revenue sharing in Southeast Michigan has declined since 2003. In this post, the maps of each county show how much total revenue sharing each community in the seven-county region of Southeast Michigan received in 2012. Note that communities with higher populations (link to past population post), such as Detroit, received more funding.

The above maps show the total revenue sharing funds that municipalities in the seven-county region received in 2012. Detroit received the highest amount of funds at $175,532,461, according the Senate Fiscal Agency. Of all the municipalities in the region, Detroit also had the largest population; in 2013, it was estimated by the Southeast Council of Governments (SEMCOG) to have 681,090 residents.

There are 12 municipalities in the region that received less than a $100,000 in revenue sharing for 2012. Southfield Township in Oakland County received the lowest level of funding; it also had a population of 14,547, according to 2012 data from Munetrix; SEMCOG does not list Southfield Township. Estral Beach, a village in Monroe County, had the lowest population of all the municipalities in the region in 2012; according to SEMCOG it was 388.

As can be seen in the maps above, the counties with higher populations (Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb) received higher revenue sharing funding. This is because funding formulas are, in part, related to population.

According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, statutory /EVIP funds are  distributed based on a formula. An upcoming post with provide examples of how these formulas have worked at different points in time. For now, it will  help to know that the formula considers the following:

•Population Unit Type
•Taxable Value Per Capita
•Yield Equalization
•Percent Share of Fiscal Year ’98


Population Unit Type – According to the Citizen’s Research Council (CRC), with the population unit type formula, cities are weighted the most and villages are weighted the least; to see how population and municipality type affect funding click here.

Taxable Value per Capita – The taxable value per capita formula takes the state’s average per capita taxable value and multiplies it by a given municipality’s population, according the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Yield Equalization – The yield equalization formula is used to “create a minimum guarantee on combined state and local revenue per mill of tax levy,” according to the CRC. This number is calculated by multiplying the number of mills in a local effort by the difference between the guaranteed and actual tax levy per capita; that number is then multiplied by the population in each municipality, according to the CRC.

Percent Share of Fiscal Year ’98 – According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, the percent share of fiscal year (FY) ’98 formula takes “each City, Village and Township’s FY ’98 statutory payments (Relative Tax Effort, Per Capita, and Inventory Reimbursement) and divides it by the FY ’98 Statewide Total Distributed to determine their Percent Share Factor.”

Beginning in 2002, 60 percent of the FY ’98 were paid using this formula; the percent paid then increased by 10 percent each year, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

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As we have seen in the last two posts, the amount of total revenue sharing funds distributed to municipalities across the Southeastern Michigan region has been decreasing, and Detroit is no exception. When looking at real dollars, the City of Detroit lost about $149.5 million in revenue sharing funding from 1998-2012; statutory funding represented about $148 million of that. Adjusting the number to account for inflation, using 1998 dollars as a base, Detroit lost about $304 million in total revenue sharing funding from 1998-2012, of which statutory funding represented approximately $255 million.


Up until 1998, the Relative Tax Effort (RTE), which was enacted in 1971, was intended to help monies follow communities’ needs, according to the CRC. However, there were complaints that cities fared better from the RTE than did townships and villages. This is why in 1998 an amendment was made to change how statutory funds were distributed. This amendment, which the formulas above reflect, shifted from distributing statutory funds based on intangibles, income, and small business taxes to providing 21.3% of sales tax revenues at the 4% tax rate, according to the CRC. Also, in 1998 then Gov. John Engler and Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer made a deal that the city would receive $333.9 million in annual revenue sharing funds if the city would decrease its city income tax rate, according to a Detroit Free Press Article and a Bridge Magazine report. Only a few years after the deal was made the state began to cut revenue sharing fund distributions, across the board. Since then Detroit has decreased its city income tax but has also not received the $333.9 million a year it was guaranteed.

In next week’s post we will provide examples of  how the statutory revenue sharing formula has changed from 2002-2012 and how it has been beneficial to one community and detrimental to another.





Changes in Detroit and tri-county State Representative characteristics after the 2012 Election

One of our recent posts examined several characteristics of the State Representatives who represented Detroit and the tri-county region (Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne) during the 2011-12 term.  In this week’s post, we compare the characteristics for legislators in the 2011-12 term to those who are currently serving.  This will illustrate some effects of the November election and the new apportionment plan for the state House. The other unique aspect of Michigan’s 2012 election was the transition to the state’s new apportionment plan.  As a result of this election, many new representatives now sit in the state House, 42 of whom represent districts in Detroit and the tri-county area. Here we will examine some characteristics of these 42 officials.

The tri-county area lost three districts as a result of the new apportionment plan (a district is considered to be in Detroit or the tri county area if the majority of the district is geographically within Detroit or one of the tri-county’s boundaries, respectively).  Detroit did not gain or lose any districts, although under the new apportionment plan, several Detroit districts no longer represent Detroit exclusively, and now contain portions of surrounding areas. According to the new plan there are now five districts that represent Detroit exclusively; last term there were nine.


The chart above compares all 42 of the current representatives in the tri-county area to their 45 predecessors on the basis of four criteria: party affiliation, gender, membership in the legislative Black Caucus, and committee leadership (a legislator is considered a committee leader if he or she is the chair, vice chair, and minority vice chair on one or more state House committees.  This definition allows members of the minority party to be included).  Overall, the percentage of Democratic tri-county representatives has remained roughly the same, declining only somewhat after the 2012 election.  This slight decline occurred despite President Barack Obama’s electoral strength in the tri-counties.   A smaller percentage of women now represent the region compared to the previous term.  Furthermore, a smaller percentage of tri-county representatives are members of the legislative Black Caucus.  In contrast to these declines, however, a greater percentage of this region’s representatives serve as committee leaders during the 2013-14 term. Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, along with Detroit, all saw an increase in the number of representatives who entered their third term after the 2012 election; in turn there were fewer freshman entering. This means we can expect substantial turnover in the next term.

•A considerable majority (64%) of representatives are Democrats;
•Women constitute 24% of tri-county representatives;
•Only 21% are members of the legislative Black Caucus (membership in the legislative Black Caucus does not necessarily reflect racial identification;)
•The majority (57%) of tri-county representatives hold committee leadership posts during the 2013-14 term;
•Just over one third of Detroit’s representatives are now serving their third terms and exactly half are in their second terms.  The proportions are very similar for representatives in outlying tri-county districts, except that a greater percentage of freshman representatives (21%) are serving the region outside of Detroit.

In this chart, and the remainder of the charts in this post, the percentage of representatives that represent the specific criteria being examined correspond with the height of the bar. When looking at the number above each bar, that represents that number of representatives that make up each percentage.


The increase in committee leadership is driven by the higher percentage of state representatives from Detroit who are now committee leaders. The chart above reveals the magnitude of this increase.  The chart also reveals that, as with the tri-county region as a whole, a smaller percentage of Detroit’s state representatives are women and members of the legislative Black Caucus.  As with the previous term, all state representatives of Detroit are Democrats.

Last term, Detroit had 12 representatives, three of whom served districts that were only partially in Detroit.  Of those three districts, one was not “majority-Detroit,” so there were 11 “Detroit districts” last term. This term, Detroit has 10 representatives, five of whom serve districts that are only partially in Detroit.  Of those five districts, two are not “majority Detroit,” so there are eight “Detroit districts” this term.




When we examine each of the counties individually, we observe additional changes.  The charts above show some exceptions to the broader shifts noted above.  They illustrate, for example, that Wayne County districts outside of Detroit lost committee leaders after the 2012 election.  They also show Oakland County is the only county to have lost Democratic representatives, and Macomb County remains the only area in the tri-county region not represented by a member of the legislative Black Caucus.



Another characteristic of state representatives is their length of service.  Michigan state representatives are constitutionally limited to three terms; therefore all representatives are in one of three stages of their state House careers.  After the 2012 elections, the percentage of first-term representatives from Detroit districts dropped substantially from 55 percent to 13 percent, while the percentage serving their third terms increased from 9 percent to 38 percent.  Half of the city’s state representatives are now in the second terms.

This situation is parallel to the one depicted for those tri-county representatives whose districts are outside of Detroit.  Here again, the percentage of freshmen dropped 20 percentage points, while the proportion of third-termers increased by 23 percentage points.




The charts above demonstrate that term of service proportions have moved in the same direction for Detroit and each of the counties in Metro-Detroit.   The percentages move in the same direction even when broken down by county.  The main exception is Macomb County, which saw an increase in second-term representatives after the 2012 election.  Taken together, the tri-county region will see a higher rate of retirement in 2014 than it saw in 2012 due to the higher proportion of third-term representatives.

Most serpentine district poll winner announced

According to Drawing Detroit viewers, the most serpentine district is Michigan’s 76th District for the House of Representatives. This district received 18 of the 34 votes, or 53% of the vote. Michigan’s 14th Congressional District came in second place with 10 votes, or 29% of the vote. There is a tie for the third most serpentine district. According to the voters, Michigan’s 11th Congressional District and Michigan’s First State Senate District each received two votes, or 10% of the vote.

Serpentine poll update

As of 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 7, these are the results of the most “serpentine” poll posted last week:

Michigan’s 76th District for the House of Representatives: 17 votes ( 52%)

Michigan’s 14th Congressional District: 10 votes (30%)

Michigan’s 11th Congressional District: 2 votes (6%)

Michigan’s First State Senate District: 2 votes (6%)

Michigan’s 13th Congressional District: 1 vote (3%)

Michigan’s 13th District for the House of Representatives: 1 vote (3%)

With only 33 votes thus far, we will be leaving poll open for another week. Voting will now end on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Votes can be cast here.