Welcome to SEMCOG's Think Regional/Act Local blog! SEMCOG is the only organization in Southeast Michigan that brings together all governments to solve regional challenges and enhance the quality of life for the seven-county regions 4.7 million residents. With this regional perspective in mind, we work with member local governments to sustain our regions reputation as a great place to work, play, and do business.


Our panel of SEMCOG staff bloggers will post daily to this blog, discussing SEMCOG's data, federal and state legislative issues, and environmental and fiscal sustainability best practices for local governments all with the goal of creating a successful future for the region.



Think Regional/Act Local

Partnering Pays Off!

(Best Practice, Environment, Public outreach) Permanent link

Macomb County is making partnerships work in moving forward their Blue Economy Initiative. How so? Macomb County is partnering with SEMCOG, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and others to draft a strategic development plan for the Blue Economy (using water resources for economic benefit).


One early success highlighting the importance of partnering is their Circle the Lake Tour signage program. Macomb County has installed 52 signs directing residents and visitors to the numerous amenities offered by Lake St. Clair.




The Circle the Lake Tour signs will have an even larger impact by partnering with the Michigan Department of Transportation to have signs on I-94. Hats off to Macomb County and MDOT for partnering for the betterment of our region.


For more information, check out the Tour Lake St. Clair Web site.


Amy Mangus
You can leverage your SEMCOG membership to help your local government become more sustainable and effective. Amy’s posts will focus on SEMCOG’s member services.

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Detroit Comparables

(Best Practice, Data, Efficiency, Right-sizing) Permanent link

Now that Detroit has developed a proposed budget linked to the recently approved consent agreement, let’s take a deeper dive to assess how it compares to the finances and personnel levels of other similar-sized cities. An analysis was performed using Detroit’s proposed 2012-13 budget compared to the 2011 audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) for each of the following eight cities with similar populations as Detroit. The results are shown below for each comparable city versus Detroit, as well as like data for selected service areas. Especially notable are the wide variations of both expenses and employees for the similar-sized cities, as well as Detroit’s relatively positive position with this new budget among the group of similar-sized cities both overall and for the various service areas. The tricky part will be meeting such a challenging budget while concurrently enhancing services and redeveloping the city. This new budget represents a great start.


US City Population Expenses
(in millions)
Austin, TX 790,390 $2,853 12,037
Columbus, OH    787,033 $1,391 7,919
Fort Worth, TX 741,206 $1,225 6,969
Charlotte, NC 731,424 $1,312 6,809
Detroit, MI* 713,777* $1,312* 6,242*
El Paso, TX 649,121 $630 5,378
Memphis, TN 646,889 $3,054 7,568
Baltimore, MD 620,961 $2,434 15,053
Boston , MA 617,594 $1,460 8,225
Avg. w/o Detroit 698,077 $1,795 8,745



*Proposed 2012-2013 budget



Service Area Detroit Expenses
(in millions)
Average Comparable
Expenses (in millions)
Employees Average Comparable 
Police $340 $324 2,954 2,597
Fire/EMS $159 $160 1,257 1,229
Public Works $158 $156 683 763
Administration $129 $173 579 877
Development $69 $124 125 488
Parks & Rec. $12 $53 87 481
Community Svcs. $39 $105 272 153
Debt. $74 $46 n/a n/a


















For no-cost assistance in dealing with your fiscal challenges, contact me via e-mail at boerger@semcog.org.


Dave Boerger
Learn how to navigate fiscal uncertainty by improving efficiency, fostering collaboration, and providing information on right-sizing. Through weekly posts, Dave will discuss legislative developments, best practices, and training opportunities.

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May 1 – Beginning Ozone Action season and Commuter Challenge

(Air Quality, Environment, Public outreach, Public transportation, Transportation) Permanent link

May 1, 2012 is an important day for two reasons. First, it’s the start of Ozone Action season, which lasts until the end of September. Ozone Action days are called when hot summer temperatures combine with pollution to create elevated amounts of ground-level ozone, a threat to human health and the environment. On Ozone Action Days, people are asked to take certain actions that can help reduce the creation of ozone that day and keep it at levels that meet the national air quality standard. Find out what you can do to help keep the air clean at www.semcog.org/OzoneAction.aspx.


The second reason is the start of the Commuter Challenge, which lasts until the end of May. Help cut down on traffic congestion and pollution – take the Commuter Challenge by trying a new way to work during the month of May. The Commuter Challenge is a fun and exciting way to encourage carpooling and vanpooling, riding public transportation, biking and walking, and using telework and flextime benefits. And there are prizes at the end of the month! We’re kicking this year’s challenge off with an event today. If you’re in the downtown area on May 1, come by the Commuter Challenge Transportation Fair at Compuware. We will be giving away great prizes to the winners of our “Carpool” game from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We’ll also have free popcorn, water, and information from MiRideshare, SMART, DDOT, and The People Mover. And, of course, more info is available at www.semcog.org/CommuterChallenge.aspx.


I know you’re reading this information with passion and interest to help keep the environment clean. Please pass this information along to friends, family, coworkers, and community leaders. After all, we only get one life on one planet, so make the best of it!


Grant Brooks
In order to create a successful future for Southeast Michigan, we must have an educated and engaged public. Grant’s blog posts will focus on important messages for residents on how their daily habits can improve quality of life for themselves and their neighbors.

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