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

Sharing Services – Parks and Rec

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

July 10, 2012 — With the summer season in full swing, Parks and Recreation Departments in local governments are extremely busy serving their citizens. Many communities are collaborating with neighboring municipalities to share services. A quick search of AgileGov, SEMCOG’s searchable database of over 1,000 success stories and best practices from across the region, has yielded the following Parks and Recreation Shared Service examples:

The Michigan Local Government Benchmarking Consortium collects comparable data from communities across Michigan for 14 different service areas. Listed below are the latest results for Parks and Recreation. How does your department stack up?


Parks & Recreation


Cost per resident


Total operating budget per park acre


Operating budget per passive park acre


Operating budget per active park acre


Total park acres per 1,000 population


Passive park acres per 1,000 population


Active park acres per 1,000 population


User fees as a percent of operational park maintenance budget


Number of park maintenance FTE per 10,000 population


Number of park maintenance FTE per 100 acres


Number of full time employees per 100 acres


Number of seasonal/temporary employees per 100 acres


Average full time employee cost per hour (includes benefits)


Average seasonal/temporary employee cost per hour (includes benefits)


Average full time employee wage per hour (excludes benefits)


Average seasonal/temporary employee wage per hour (excludes benefits)



SEMCOG provides no cost assistance to local Parks and Recreation Departments of member communities. Contact Dave Boerger.


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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Be careful what you ask for

(Legislation, Transportation) Permanent link

July 9, 2012 — Well, last week, Congress did something they haven’t done much of lately – agree on something.  They were finally able to approve a new transportation bill. Now it was not your typical 5-6 year bill – this one was a 27-month bill. The new bill is called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21. Personally, I am glad we are done with the “TEA” series of bills (ISTEA, SAFETEA-LU).


So, what did we get with this new bill? Well, we now have 27 months of needed funding certainty after almost three years of multi-month extensions. The legislation also includes yet another bailout of the Highway Trust Fund by the General Fund, averting a significant cutback in federal funding as a result of us spending faster than dollars going into the trust fund. Finally, the bill includes significant and needed reforms, including program consolidation, streamlined project delivery, and development of performance measures.


What we didn’t get was the most important thing the program needs – a long-term increase in funding to be able to address the growing transportation needs of our country. This Congress left that action for the next Congress to address. The reforms we did get are significant and needed. The use of performance measures is a good approach to be able to report on the progress we have made towards improving the system…or will it? I find it ironic that a Congress that will not increase needed funding now requires development of performance measures that will document that the condition of our transportation systems continues to deteriorate!


This legislation reminds me of the action taken by our own state legislature in the late ‘90s when, rather than increase the gas tax, they instead required the state to develop an asset management approach to managing our roads and bridges. Don’t get me wrong – that was a great idea, but for the past 10 years we have been documenting the deterioration of our road system and – guess what – they have not passed an increase in funding! I hope we are not about to do this again.


Look to SEMCOG’s Web site for our summary of the key components of the bill. If you are ambitious, you can read the whole report yourself.


Carmine Palombo
If you want to know what about anything related to transportation in Southeast Michigan, don’t miss Carmine Palombo's blog. Carmine has more than 30 years of experience in various phases of transportation planning at SEMCOG. He is responsible for administering SEMCOG’s transportation planning program, which includes the region’s long-range transportation plan and short-term transportation plan.

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