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

Our neighborhoods are changing…SEMCOG can help

(Best Practice, Census, SEMCOG Member Services) Permanent link

June 20, 2012 – In talking to local governments across Southeast Michigan, creating and maintaining quality neighborhoods for their residents to live and enjoy remains a key function. An important step is to understand the changes that have occurred. These changes may be positive (construction of new housing; rehabilitation of existing housing) or negative (increase in vacant/abandoned homes; drastic decline in housing values). By understanding these changes, communities can implement proven neighborhood strategies that work.


SEMCOG can help through the use of Community Map Books, which provide a graphic overview of selected demographic information from the 2010 Census of Population and Housing.


The City of Warren, with assistance from SEMCOG, is using Community Map Books – specifically 2000-2010 Population Change2000-2010 Vacancy Change, and Neighborhood Stability – to not only understand, but also respond to neighborhood changes. The city’s neighborhoods, like many throughout the region, have experienced much change as a result of the national foreclosure crisis and the transitioning regional economy. Using Community Map Books, along with local foreclosure, crime, and abandonment data, the city is proactively targeting code enforcement activities and implementing neighborhood improvement ordinances, including vacant property and rental registration ordinances, to help stabilize neighborhoods.




Jim Hartley, Administrative Supervisor at the City of Warren, states, “SEMCOG’s technical assistance in understanding and developing responses to neighborhood changes in the city has been of great help as the city continues to address the impacts of foreclosures on our residents.”


SEMCOG can assist your community in developing neighborhood and property maintenance tools to strategically address the negative impacts of foreclosure and vacancy. For more information on how SEMCOG can assist your community, visit SEMCOG's Neighborhood Stabilization Web page.


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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Not too early to think about winter maintenance!

(Best Practice, Collaboration, Efficiency, Environment, Regionalism, Right-sizing, Transportation) Permanent link

June 19, 2012 — With Ozone Action Days popping up right and left this summer, to cool things off a bit, let’s talk about Winter Maintenance success stories from around the region. Besides, now is the optimum time to plan ahead for next winter’s maintenance challenges.


City of Auburn Hills Winter Maintenance Efficiencies
Winter road maintenance programs challenge local governments for many reasons – rising salt costs, selecting effective deicing products, rising fuel costs, reduced staff, and budget constraints. There are additional concerns over the impact deicing materials can have on the environment and infrastructure. Auburn Hills has implemented some innovative practices. Despite salt price increases of $17.67/ton, or 62 percent over recent years, new winter operation procedures have lowered their deicing product expenses from $105,723 to $65,419 (38 percent savings) since 2008 while concurrently improving deicing capabilities. New procedures implemented include:

  • Install Pre-wet systems on salt trucks to spray water on the salt at a rate of 12-16 gallons per ton of salt just before applying to the roadway
  • Blade off all moisture on the roadway prior to salting
  • Reduce salt application rate from 800 lbs. to 400 lbs. per lane mile
  • Expand training program and simplified procedures

For more information, contact Don Grice, Deputy Director, Auburn Hills Department of Public Services, 1827 N. Squirrel Road Auburn Hills, MI 48326, (248) 370-9400,eE-mail: dgrice@auburnhills.org
And click the following links from SEMCOG’s AgileGov searchable database for more winter deicing savings ideas:

Stay cool this summer and plan ahead for next winter now! SEMCOG is very involved with bringing our member communities together to talk about best practices in winter road maintenance. In fact, Auburn Hills hosted last year’s SEMCOG University workshop on this topic. This year’s winter road maintenance workshop will be hosted by the City of Novi and held on September 27. More details and a save the date notice will be sent out in July.


SEMCOG members: for no-cost fiscal and operation assistance, contact me 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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