Matt Bach, Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21. 2013
Michigan Municipal League Launches Free New Database of City Information
Find Everything from Populations to Charters to Age Requirements to Serve as Mayor for Michigan’s 273 Cities
Ann Arbor, Michigan (Feb. 21, 2013) —In what years did Flint, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Traverse City become cities? How old do you have to be to serve as mayor in Alpena? What are my city’s bid requirements? Where can I find my city’s charter?
You can get the answers to all these questions and many more in the Michigan Municipal League’s new online “Charter Database” of vital information about Michigan’s 273 incorporated cities. The Charter Database is a free service found at the League’s website, mml.org.
A city charter is basically a city’s constitution, spelling out the structure of the local government, terms of office and qualifications to serve as local elected officials, the city’s boundaries, local taxing and borrowing authority, local budget process, and much more. Prior to the release of this database, much of the information could be found only by contacting each city directly.
“This one-of-a-kind database represents months of exhaustive research and compilation by our staff,” said League CEO and Executive Director Daniel Gilmartin. “It provides the public a vast amount of information about Michigan’s cities with a few clicks on your computer. We believe it will be especially useful to League members, the news media and anyone simply interested in city government.”
The city charters are available for download for nearly all of the 273 cities. By using software, such as Excel, other information in the database can be downloaded, sorted and examined in a variety of ways. Here are a few tidbits that resulted from examining the Charter Database:
- Most Michigan cities have seven council members. But 16 cities have nine councilmembers and just one has 11.
- Some cities have age requirements written in their charters to serve as mayor or on council. For example, in Auburn Hills, Bronson, Coldwater, Eastpointe and many other communities, a resident must be at least 21 to serve on council. In Frankenmuth, Clawson, Manistee, Orchard Lake Village, Pleasant Ridge and Wayland, the age requirement is 25. In Alpena and Ferndale, a resident must be at least 30 to serve as mayor.
- The oldest incorporated city in Michigan is Detroit, formed in 1802. What’s the second oldest city? Answer: Monroe, incorporated in 1837. And what’s the state’s youngest city, in terms of incorporation? Answer: Caseville, located in the Thumb, which was incorporated in 2010.
- Some city charters have specific bidding requirements: for example, any project costing more than $500 must go out for bid. Others leave that up to local ordinance or resolution.
Based on the 273 city charters in the Charter Database, 188 cities provide for the mayors’ office to be filled by direct election; in five cities, the candidate receiving the most popular votes becomes the mayor; and in 80 cities, the city council or commission chooses the mayor from within its membership.
- In 19 cities, the mayor doesn’t vote at meetings. In 27 other cities, the mayor only votes to break a tie on the council. The mayor has veto power in 24 cities.
Gilmartin said: “People can use the database to answer many other questions too, such as what are the 10 largest cities in Michigan in terms of population? What are the 10 smallest? How about in your county – what are the largest and smallest cities? There is a lot of data available here than can be used for many purposes, and we hope people find it useful.”
To keep the database as current as possible, the League will update information periodically.
Here is the direct link to the charter database: http://www.mml.org/resources/information/charter/charter-search.html.
Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.