By Mike Kruzman /

A recent survey by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments shows what residents want local governments to prioritize in their budgets. SEMCOG is an organization that aims to bring together the governments of 7 southeastern Michigan counties, including Livingston, to solve regional challenges and enhance quality of life. They recently completed the survey in anticipation of the financial impacts that COVID-19 may have on funding for local governments. The survey explored which services residents found most important, which should be prioritized, and attitudes towards cutting programs.

When asked about the characteristics people value in a community, the top two responses were it being a safe place to live and infrastructure. Younger respondents also included diversity, public transportation, and quality walking and biking pathways. Schools, fire, and police were voted to be the most prioritized for funding, with fire services and quality water services being highly valued. School funding support was also strong. SEMCOG suggests that recent national discussions about police funding may have had an impact on the study. They report that 4% of those who answered showed support for eliminating police services, and 17% suggest cutting police budgets. Very few responses wanted to eliminate services if there are budget shortfalls.

SEMCOG reports that roughly a quarter of respondents were local government officials, but also that their responses varied little from that of the general public.