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Appropriate topics for this guide are resources about Michigan townships in general, or on any one of the state's 1,240 townships.

Michigan is one of twenty states that have township governments. Based on the English system of government, early settlers in New England established small community governments to deliver local services, while a county served as the administrative arm of government. With the opening of the Erie Canal, many New Englanders moved to Michigan, bringing this form of government along with them.

Although cities and villages are commonly referred to as towns, Michigan doesn't have towns, at least not as a legal entity. It has townships, cities, and villages, with better than 95% of the state's land area outside of cities governed by townships. If you are a resident of Michigan, if you're not living in a city, you're in a township.

Traditionally, townships served a rural population while cities and villages served urban populations. Today, because some townships also have high population densities, it can be difficult to determine the differences between townships, cities, and villages.

We have elected to list townships with counties rather than with cities and villages because most of them do serve a rural population and because townships are divisions of specific counties, while several cities span multiple counties. There is also the fact that some townships contain cities that have the same name as the township while existing as a separate legal entity.

There are two types of townships in Michigan: general law and charter townships.

A charter township is a special township classification created by the State Legislature in 1947 to provide additional powers for growing communities. Townships often adopt a charter form of government in order to protect itself against annexation by a neighboring city. Charter cities have been granted a charter by the state, allowing it certain rights and responsibilities of home rule that lie somewhere between that of a city and a village. For example, charter townships may establish police and fire services, appoint tax assessors, acquire property, borrow money, and issue bonds, with the approval of a majority of the township population voting in an election. Charter townships are mostly exempt from annexation by contiguous cities or villages.

The number of townships within the state is subject to change when townships are absorbed by neighboring cities or when they successfully petition to incorporate as a city rather than as a township.

Township government is conducted by a township board, made up of either five or seven members: a supervisor, clerk, treasurer, and either two or four trustees, the number determined by the population of the township, the desires of its residents, and the type of township government it has. Township boards may also hire a manager, an assessor, police chief, fire chief, superintendent, and other personnel determined necessary for the operation of the township.

Because they often serve rural residents, townships often maintain roads and bridges that are designated to the county or state. Townships commonly maintain cemeteries, parks and recreational programs, and provide services to senior citizens. They may also provide trash and recycling services, municipal water, and wastewater systems.

Michigan's townships range in population from fewer than 100 to more than 100,000.

Michigan township government sites are the focus of topics listed in this category, although not all township governments have official websites.

 

 

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