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The focus of this guide is on the eighty-three counties in Michigan.

Wayne County, the first to be established, was created by the acting governor of the Michigan Territory in 1796. At that time, Wayne County consisted of all of what later became the state of Michigan and parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Of course, it's not nearly so large today.

By 1830, there were twelve counties in Michigan, and most of the Lower Peninsula counties were established by 1852. The last of the state's current counties was organized in 1891.

Michigan county governments are divisions of the state government, extending some of the powers of the state throughout its boundaries. For example, county prosecutors enforce state criminal laws, county registrars maintain land records and other property-related documents, and clerks organize and administer elections for both state and county offices. Counties also manage programs to benefit the local population, such as the creation and maintenance of county parks and recreation facilities and programs, county water and sewer systems, and humanitarian aid services.

While counties act as agents of the state, they are separate governmental bodies with their own legal identity, retaining the right to enter into contracts, hold property, borrow money, and to conduct county affairs.

The legislative body for each county is the county board, which may consist of no fewer than five and no more than twenty-one board members, the number determined by the population of the county. County boards have the responsibility of setting a budget, passing county ordinances, setting policies, and providing legislative oversight and constituent services. Unless specifically stated in state statute, county boards do not have police powers.

In Michigan, sheriffs are constitutionally mandated, elected county officials who have law enforcement authority throughout their respective counties, as well as judicial-process, court-protection, and jail-operation powers. Generally, they patrol areas of the county that are not covered by municipal police services, but they are free to patrol anywhere in the county, including cities, villages, and charter townships that have their own police services. Some municipalities contract with the sheriff's department for dedicated police services.

County boards are required to meet at least four times a year, although they may schedule more frequent meetings.

Although county boards appropriate funding for the budgets of lower-level courts and many judges maintain offices and courtrooms in county buildings, the two entities mostly operate independently.

This category is focused on Michigan counties. Where the number of websites for any individual county warrants it, subcategories may be created.

 

 

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