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

2012 EVIP grant deadline is June 15

(Collaboration, Efficiency, Regionalism, Right-sizing, SEMCOG Member Services) Permanent link

May 29, 2012 — The June 15th deadline for communities to apply for a 2012 shared service grant as part of the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP) is fast approaching. Click this link from the State Treasury for more information. Note that all communities, whether EVIP eligible or not, can apply. Plus, we can provide no-cost help facilitating shared service arrangements among a group of communities.

Fire and EMS comparables
We’ve been working to improve the efficiency of fire and EMS services with a number of communities on the following list that indicates cost per capita for fire and EMS services. For example, the City of Warren was able to enhance cost recovery for transporting EMS patients to the hospital by $2.3 million, more than offsetting the incremental costs by almost 4:1. Plus, we’ve assisted several member communities, including Ferndale, Bloomfield Hills, and Oak Park evaluate their public safety departments (combined police and fire services). How does your community’s fire/EMS department stack-up?

SEMCOG member communities can contact Dave Boerger for more information or no-cost assistance regarding these topics


Cost of fire protection


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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Financial crisis: Coming to a city government near you

(Collaboration, Efficiency, Legislation, Right-sizing) Permanent link

May 29, 2012 — On May 20, the Detroit Free Press featured an editorial with the headline, “Financial Crisis: coming to a city government near you.” It was right on target…and not just because I was quoted in it.


I don’t have to belabor the fiscal challenges our local governments face…lower property values, reduced state shared revenue, Proposal A and Headlee imposed limits on returning to previous property tax revenues (even as property values rise), as well as daunting legacy costs. Further, we have yet to see the likely impacts of repeal of the industrial portion of personal property tax. Tough times for local governments.


Despite this bleak picture, I remain encouraged. Why?

  • The economy is recovering, albeit slowly.
  • Local government leaders have demonstrated great courage in making the difficult decisions to balance their budgets…frequently taking never-popular cuts in government services.
  • Local leaders are increasingly embracing jointly providing services or outsourcing the delivery of certain services to their neighbors or their counties.
  • And, very importantly, despite the fiscal challenges, local leaders are finding opportunities to invest in sense-of-place improvements to make their communities more attractive to businesses as well as younger, talented professionals…both important to our long-term economic prosperity.

The future? I see three critical pieces of the puzzle that will take us to sustainable, prosperous government. First, we, as taxpayers, need to renew our appreciation for the services we receive from our local governments. Somehow, government has gotten a bad name. It is viewed as a sinkhole for our tax dollars, not the provider of services for the public good and my individual good. We should value quality police, fire, waste collection, building inspection, elections, etc. Second, we need to reinforce courageous decisions by our elected officials to be responsible, to take the steps necessary to balance their budgets. We need to get beyond criticizing elected leaders for unpopular actions and reward them for doing what is needed. And third, as called for in the Free Press editorial, we need to convene a solution-centered group to direct a fix for a broken system of funding local government.


Yes, leaders will have to continue to trim expenses. In the long run, however, if we truly believe that local government plays an important role in our long-term prosperity, we need adequate funding. Our future depends on all these pieces.

Paul Tait
Paul Tait joined SEMCOG in 1972 and has served in a variety of planning and administrative capacities – becoming Executive Director in 1998. This experience gives Paul a rich perspective on the past, present, and future of our region. Please join him as he blogs about issues of importance to the region’s local governments and residents. Paul is also president of SEMCOG’s partner organization – the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC) – a coalition of business, labor, government and education.

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