How Much of Your County Budget Goes to the Sheriff’s Department?

A government entity’s budget is the document that spells out its priorities, both for the coming year and the future. The general fund is the primary fund used by a government entity and includes all general purpose in-and-out flows of revenues and expenditures that do not include special purpose, or enterprise, funds. At the county level in Southeastern Michigan the general fund budgets may be hundreds of million dollars, being larger for counties with larger population sizes. For example, in Wayne County the projected general fund budget for fiscal year 2021 is about $580 million while Macomb County’s proposed general fund budget for 2021 is $274.5 million, and Monroe County’s is about $46.8 million. Those general fund budgets, and the budgets of the other counties in the region, include personnel and operational costs for the counties. Typically, sheriff’s departments have among the highest departmental budgets in a county, with personnel and related costs making up majority of their expenditures. From road patrol to jail personnel to marine patrol to office support, the amount allocated out of a sheriff’s department budget covers various aspects. According to Statisa, major municipalities spend 20-45 percent of their general fund budgets on police related matters. The data in this post shows the general fund share of Sheriff’s Departments and is in line with that statistic.  It further shows that policing and jail operations at the County level are high-level priorities, according to  the percentage each sheriff’s department in Southeastern Michigan makes up of the corresponding general fund.

As shown in the map above 24-46 percent of each county’s general fund is allocated to the sheriff’s department (only Washtenaw and Oakland counties currently have adopted budgets for 2021, the others are proposed and/or projected). It should also be noted that much of those allocated funds do not include forfeiture or other special enterprise funds a sheriff’s department may have access to. Each department’s budget isn’t identical to its neighboring counties’, so while comparing each local sheriff’s department’s spending out of the General Fund is not apples-to-apple, it does provide a solid glimpse into each county’s priorities in spending. According to our research, the percentage of funds allocated to the sheriff’s department from the general fund in Washtenaw County is the highest at 46 percent; this is equivalent to about $57.1 million and includes the sheriff’s department, the corrections department and the emergency services department. Washtenaw County does not present its budget in a roll-down line item manner, which provides the greatest amount of detail, so exact reasons as to why it has the highest percentage of its general fund allocated to the sheriff’s department is not explicitly known. In the Washtenaw County budget though it did address how the department contracts with various municipalities for policing services; this brings in revenue but also in response causes expenditures as well. Contracted policing services are likely one of several reasons why the budget allocation percentage is 46 percent. Revenue from a public safety and mental health millage to support sheriff’s operations could also be related to the corresponding expenditures. Finally, the county also runs a central dispatch center. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department is the only other one locally where more than 40 percent of the county’s general fund is allocated to the sheriff’s department. In Livingston County 42 percent of the general fund, or $51.4 million, is allocated.

Wayne County has the lowest percentage of general funds allocated to the sheriff’s department at 24 percent, or $141.3 million. For Wayne County, these allocated funds include those for the operation of the county jail (the building of the new jail is funded separately), non-jail services, sheriff court services and those related to the sheriff’s executive team. Macomb County has the second lowest percentage allocated at 33 percent, or $89.3 million. The funds allocated to the sheriff’s department in Macomb County include the patrol, jail and marine personnel, jail operations and other related items. In Oakland County 34 percent of the general fund ($165.9 million) is allocated to the sheriff’s department, and this includes corrective services, emergency communication services and emergency response and preparedness. Monroe County allocates 38 percent of its general fund budget to the sheriff’s department. Monroe County’s allocation includes road patrol, contracting with local municipalities and school units, marine safety and the jail; this totals $18 million.

The budget information available for St. Clair County was from previous years; current data was requested but not received.

While this post highlights budget spending priorities on policing and jail services in Southeastern Michigan, it also shows how budgeting from one local unit of government to another differs and can distort how much one department is actually receiving or expending. Reasons such as these are among many that explain why the public should pay close attention to how their local governments’ budgets and what the funds are allocated to. A budget document sets the priorities, and if the public speaks up, the priorities in your community can be shifted, as can the funds to support them. 

Washtenaw County gains 770 residents while Livingston loses more than 1,000

Last week, we explored migrations in and out of the tri-county region using 2012-13 IRS tax returns. This week, we highlight the remaining four counties in Southeastern Michigan (Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw) where there was a total net gain of 32 residents. All counties, except Livingston, experienced net gains. Washtenaw County had the highest net gain of residents at 770, while Livingston County had a net loss of 1,085. Even with such gains and losses, the data presented in this post shows that majority of the migration in and out of a these counties occurred within the state’s boundaries.



Washtenaw County experienced a net increase of 770 new residents, according to 2012-13 tax returns. The IRS data shows that, there were 9,596 tax returns filed by new Washtenaw County residents and 8,826 filed by former Washtenaw County residents. Former Wayne County residents contributed the most to the population influx with 2,529 of them moving to Washtenaw County. Oakland County contributed the second highest number of new residents at 891, followed by Livingston County at 649. In total, of the 9,596 new residents who moved into Washtenaw County, 5,881 were from other Michigan counties. From outside of Michigan, Cook County, Illinois (where Chicago is located) contributed the highest number of new residents at 344; Los Angeles County in California contributed 130 new residents to Washtenaw County.

When viewing the number of residents who left Washtenaw County for elsewhere, 2,225 residents moved to Wayne County (Washtenaw County had a net gain of 304 residents from Wayne County). Additionally, Washtenaw County lost 915 residents to Oakland County (a net loss of 24), and 536 residents to Livingston County (a net gain of 113). In total, Washtenaw County lost 5,785 residents to other Michigan counties, for a net gain of 96.

From outside of Michigan, Washtenaw County lost 284 residents to Cook County, Illinois (net gain of 58). Washtenaw also lost 142 residents to Los Angeles County, California (a net loss of 12).



Livingston County lost 4,452 residents, according to 2012-13 IRS data, while gaining 3,367, for a net loss of 1,085 residents. Among the new Livingston County residents, 1,027 were from Oakland County, 536 from Washtenaw County, and 469 from Wayne County. In total, 3,285 Michigan residents moved to Livingston County during the 2012-13 time frame. Cook County, Illinois contributed the highest number of new residents to Livingston County, at 44 from an out-of-state county.

While Livingston County gained the largest number of residents from Oakland County, it also lost the most residents to the same county: it lost 1,292 residents, for a net loss of 265 residents to Oakland County. Livingston County lost 903 of its residents to Wayne County (a net loss of 434) and 649 of its residents to Washtenaw County. In total, 4,157 former Livingston County residents moved elsewhere in the state, for an in-state net loss of 872. Outside of Michigan, Cook County, Illinois gained former Livingston County residents at 37, for a net loss of 7.



Monroe County had a net gain of 143 residents, according to 2012-13 IRS tax returns. This rural county lost 2,350 residents to other counties while gaining 2,493 new residents. Monroe County’s largest population gain came from Wayne County at 852 residents; its second largest gain was from Lucas County, Ohio (Lucas County, which borders Monroe County, is home to Toledo) at 738. Wayne County and Lucas County were also the two counties that gained the most former Monroe County residents. Monroe lost 879 residents to Wayne County (net loss of 27) and 694 residents to Lucas County (a net gain of 141).

In total, Monroe County gained 1,564 residents from other Michigan counties and lost 1,485 residents to other Michigan counties for a net gain of 79 residents.



St. Clair County lost 2,232 residents and gained 2,192 residents, according to 2012-13 tax returns. The highest population gain for the county came from Macomb County with 1,001 residents, followed by Oakland County at 249. There were 141 former Wayne County residents who moved to St. Clair County. Pasco County, Florida (Tampa Bay area) contributed the largest number of new out-of-state residents to St. Clair County (28).


More former St. Clair County residents moved to Macomb County than anywhere else (1,194), resulting in a net loss of 193 residents to Macomb County. Oakland County gained the second highest number of St. Clair County residents at 210 (net gain) of 39. In total, 2,034 residents moved to St. Clair County from other Michigan counties and while 2,124 moved out, for a net loss of 90 residents. Maricopa County (Phoenix area), Arizona was the out-of-state county that gained the highest number of former St. Clair County residents at 25.

Overall, across Southeastern Michigan, there was a net gain of 5,770 residents. However, majority of the migration in and out of each county in the seven county region occurred between neighboring counties.


Washtenaw County has highest percentage of foreign-born residents

The U.S. Census Bureau defines a foreign-born person as “anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth. This includes respondents who indicated they were a U.S. citizen by naturalization or not a U.S. citizen. Persons born abroad of American parents or born in Puerto Rico or other U.S. Island Areas are not considered foreign born.”

In 2012, 12.9 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born and 6 percent of Michigan’s population was foreign-born, according to American Community Survey. While no county in Southeast Michigan had a higher percentage of foreign-born residents than the entire United States overall, four of the seven counties in the region did have a higher foreign-born population percentage than Michigan.

We saw in a previous post that Oakland County had the highest percentage of refugee residents in the region in 2012. This post shows that Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in that same year.


As noted, Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in 2012. During that time, 11.4 percent of Washtenaw County’s population was made up of foreign-born residents. Oakland and Macomb counties, which had the largest refugee populations, were the only other counties in the region where more than 10 percent of the population was made of foreign-born residents. In Oakland County, 11.2 percent of the population was foreign-born and in Macomb County 10 percent of the population was foreign-born.

Monroe County had the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents at 2 percent.


We see above that much of the foreign-born population in Washtenaw County resided in and around Ann Arbor.  Within Ann Arbor and portions of Scio, Pittsfield and Ypsilaniti we see that the foreign-born population made up 20 percent or more of the population. Throughout the rest of the county though, particularly the west side, the foreign-born population made up less than 5 percent of the population.


Wayne County, which had a foreign-born population of 7.7 percent, had both the municipality with the highest percentage of foreign-born residents and the lowest. The foreign-born population in Hamtramck made up 43.1 percent of the city’s population. Highland Park’s population was only made up of .4 percent of foreign-born residents.

Other municipalities throughout the tri-county region where more than 4 percent of the population was foreign-born were: Detroit (Wayne), Dearborn (Wayne), West Bloomfield (Oakland), Troy (Oakland) and Sterling Heights (Macomb).


In Detroit, where 5.1 percent of the population was foreign-born, the majority of these residents resided in and around Southwest Detroit. In Southwest Detroit, that neighborhood’s population was 47 percent foreign-born. Springwells, West Riverfront, Vernor, Chadsey, Hubbard, and Boynton were other Detroit neighborhoods where 20 percent of more of the population was foreign-born. As we learned in a previous post, much of the foreign-born people living in this area of Detroit are of Hispanic descent.