Government of Detroit

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The government of Detroit, Michigan is run by a mayor, the nine-member Detroit City Council, the eleven-member Board of Police Commissioners, and a clerk. All of these officers are elected on a nonpartisan ballot, with the exception of four of the police commissioners, who are appointer by the mayor. Detroit has a "strong mayoral" system, with the mayor approving departmental appointments. The council approves budgets, but the mayor is not obligated to adhere to any earmarking. The city clerk supervises elections and is formally charged with the maintenance of municipal records. City ordinances and substantially large contracts must be approved by the council.[1] Municipal elections for mayor, city council and city clerk are held in years following presidential elections (such as 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013).[2]


City departments[edit]

City departments include:


William Woodbridge, the first justice of the territorial Supreme Court.

Detroit's courts are all state-administered and elections are nonpartisan. The Circuit and Probate Courts for Wayne County are located in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (formerly the "City-County Building"). Circuit and probate judges are elected county-wide, with circuit judges handling all cases where more than $25,000 is in dispute, felonies, divorce/custody actions, and matters of general equitable jurisdictions. Probate Court is responsible for estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships and juvenile matters. The divorce/family court docket is run jointly with the Circuit Court.[3]

The 36th District Court, with judges elected citywide, handles civil disputes where less than $25,000 is in dispute, landlord-tenant matters, misdemeanors, and preliminary examinations of criminal defendants charged with felonies prior to being bound over to circuit court. The 36th District Court incorporated the city's common pleas, traffic court, and misdemeanor prosecutions.[4]

In addition to these trial courts, Detroit hosts the 1st District of the Michigan Court of Appeals, located at Cadillac Place, and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan located in the Theodore Levin Federal Courthouse building in Downtown Detroit.[5]

City finances[edit]

In addition to property tax, the city levies an income tax of 2.65% on residents, 1.325% on non-residents, and 1.6% on corporations. Revenue is also obtained from utility taxes, hotel excises and from the Detroit-owned Water and Sewer system that provides most of the fresh water and sewage treatment facilities within the metropolitan area. Detroit has had to fight off legislative efforts to turn control of the system to the suburbs.[6]

The city has experienced some fiscal years of balanced budgets in the new millennium with new growth in business and tourism.[7] The city has planned a reduced workforce and more consolidated operations.[8] In addition, Detroit had asked for pay cuts and other "give backs" from the municipal unions that represent city employees.[9]

On March 1, 2013, Governor Rick Snyder announced the state was taking over the financial control of the city from the local government.[10] The state is requesting a review team to look over the financial state of the city and determine if an emergency manager is needed to take over control of city spending from city council.[10]

On March 14, 2013, Michigan's Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board appointed an Emergency Financial Manager, Kevyn Orr. Mr. Orr assumed his receivership responsibilities on March 25, 2013.

On July 18, 2013, Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history.[11]


The city is governed pursuant to the Home Rule Charter of the City of Detroit, and the Detroit City Code is the codification of Detroit's local ordinances. Unless a violation of the code or other ordinance is specifically designated as a municipal civil infraction (or unless expressly otherwise required by applicable state or federal laws), the violation is a misdemeanor.[12] Where there is a conflict with the Wayne County Code, the most liberal interpretation of the most restrictive, or the one imposing the most desirable, standard shall prevail.[13]

Sister cities[edit]

Sister cities include:[14]

International border city:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Charter of the City of Detroit" (PDF). City of Detroit. January 1, 2012. Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  2. ^ Ward, George E. (July 1993). Detroit Charter Revision - A Brief History Archived December 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.. Citizens Research Council of Michigan (pdf file).
  3. ^ Wayne County Court System (2004) Archived April 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.. Wayne County, Michigan website (accessed April 20, 2006).
  4. ^ Michigan's 36th District Court Archived November 19, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. at ‘’ (accessed April 20, 2006).’‘
  5. ^ Mason, Philip (October 1995). Naming of the Court House in Detroit after Theodore Levin Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.. The Ragens at (accessed April 20, 2006).
  6. ^ Wisely, John (10/25/05). Suburbs ramp up water system fight. The Detroit News.
  7. ^ Mayor Kwami Kilpatrick (4-12-2006).Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Explains Budget Plan Archived September 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.WDIV
  8. ^ Lin, Judy (4/28/05). Detroit triggers loan limit. The Detroit News.
  9. ^ Heath, B., et al. (1/13/05). Mayor: Fix Detroit or risk takeover. Detroit News.[dead link]
  10. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-10. Retrieved 2013-10-31. The Detroit News
  12. ^ Detroit City Code § 1-1-9
  13. ^ Wayne County Code § 1-23
  14. ^ a b Online Directory: Michigan, USA (2006) Archived May 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.. Sister Cities International (accessed April 20, 2006).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]