New SEMCOG Blog Series: Michigan Local Government Revenue and Expenditures

SEMCOG has begun publishing a series of blogs that look at how well Michigan’s local governments compare to the rest of the nation from various financial perspectives. The U.S. Census compiles data yearly from states and local governments regarding how they fund their operations and how the money is spent. Once every five years, the census does a more detailed report that looks at the same issues from a more detailed perspective, which is broken down by type of local government.


The first blog, posted last Wednesday, looked at the changes in revenues received by Michigan’s cities and villages as compared to municipalities in the rest of the nation. The results are not pretty. Whether measured based on overall revenues, revenues derived from taxes and fees, or even by how much the state contributes to city operations, our state’s cities took a beating between 2002 and 2012. Each Wednesday, a different form of local government will be featured, including counties, townships and school districts.

After revenues are reviewed, the blogs will switch over to examining how much Michigan spends on various services, with a focus on those that are normally provided at the local level. This material looks at historical spending from 1992 to 2012. How much did Michigan spend on police protection on a per capita basis in 1992 and how did that compare to other states? What about general administrative costs in 2007 or parks and recreation spending in 2012? Each week a different category of spending will be reviewed with per capita expenditures and national rankings being tracked over a two decade period of time. Is it a good thing if we spend more than anyone else on certain services or is it bad if we spend less than everyone else? That can be a very interesting question. Think of this as benchmarking our progress over 20 years.

Follow the blogs as they are posted each Wednesday over the coming weeks. Sign up here and they will be delivered to your mailbox!

Thank you to SEMCOG for creating this data rich series to highlight the funding challenges that communities and departments face.