Our state’s 1,240 townships range in population from fewer than 100 residents to more than 100,000, with staffing and services fitting the individual needs of their citizenry. Because of township government, Michigan has no need for the complicated system of special districts to provide fire protection, utilities and other local government services.
Townships are led not by an executive, but by a board elected by and accountable to township citizens—and who live in the community they serve. It’s the perfect example of neighbors leading neighbors, of government closest to the people.
Township officials are known to drive an absentee ballot to a voter’s home, or meet with residents on their front porches over coffee. Townships provide residents with a level of service, understanding and support that they just can’t get at any other level of government.
Townships are known for their low property taxes, while still providing residents with top-notch services. They diligently budget, plan and monitor to make the most of a small budget.
Townships go above and beyond their statutory duties to provide quality services to residents, such as fire, police, elections, parks and recreation and more. Urban townships provide these services while limited by law to half the maximum property rate authorized to cities. Small townships often deliver these services with part-time officials and employees who receive nominal salaries and often no benefits.
In townships, the people are truly the government’s owners. Residents’ voices are heard, which in turn, makes them more likely to get involved in their community.
Surveys have shown that townships are one of the most trusted forms of government. Residents know their leaders, and they trust that they’ll make decisions with the township’s best interest in mind.
Townships are the ultimate example of local control. Community issues are resolved by locally elected officials who live there, and citizens, in turn, have the opportunity to influence the democratic process by expressing their views to local officials, speaking out in meetings and engaging their fellow citizens.
Townships don’t operate in silos. They partner with their neighboring local units to provide services at a lower cost. Getting the credit for the service isn’t their top priority. What matters is providing services to residents—and giving them a better value.
With their low tax rates and high quality of life, townships are attractive places for businesses looking for a new location and families looking for a place to put down roots. They also save Michigan money each year by spending less on services than cities and villages—while still providing them at a high-quality level.