What is a Township and how Does it work?


Township Government is Citizen Government

Michigan's local government structure can be a bit bewildering. Michigan's 1,242 townships govern the vast majority of Michigan's land area and serve over forty-five percent of Michigan's residents.

Townships were the brainchild of Thomas Jefferson and were created before Michigan became a state. Andrew Jackson's philosophy of direct democracy further shaped the township government structure that serves and thrives today.

Townships embody the values of "grassroots government." In townships, citizens contribute their talents, skills and ideas to preserve the quality of life and to deliver important programs and services.

Township officials live in the communities they serve and stay in touch with ever changing needs. Limited by law in the amount of taxes they can levy, township officials are creative in delivering quality services with the least possible burden to taxpayers.

Efficient. Effective. Accountable. Accessible. Michigan's township governments embody America's great democratic principles.

What Do Townships Do?

Your township government ensures that the community's health and safety needs are adequately addressed. Either through its own police, fire and emergency medical services departments or in cooperation with other government and private organizations, townships have evolved as the primary provider for essential public safety services.

Balancing private property rights and the impact on the community resulting from land use decisions is a very important township responsibility. Township governments also make communities more pleasant places to live by providing leisure and recreational activities.

Townships do not have direct responsibility for roads and drains, but they cooperate with county agencies that have direct responsibility for these services.

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How are Townships Governed?

The township board consists of supervisor, clerk, treasurer and depending on the township's population, two or four trustees. Each of these officials have specific duties that contribute to effective township governance.

The elected members of the township board adopt an annual budget that determines the scope and character of township services. They also adopt ordinances to protect the community's health, safety and welfare. The township board oversees township programs and services.

Elected Officials Also Administer Township Programs

Elected township board members also oversee administration of important township functions. The Township Supervisor, besides moderating meetings, also ensures that assessments on taxable property conform to state laws. The Township Clerk has custody of vital records, accounts for township finances, and oversees elections conducted by the township. The Township Treasurer collects property taxes for the township, schools, the county and other tax levying entities and invests surplus funds. Board members also perform other duties as directed by the township board.

Some townships also employ a manager or superintendent to oversee day-to-day operations. Township boards frequently delegate managerial responsibilities to the supervisor. Other full-time or part-time department heads provide technical and managerial expertise for township programs and services.

Students click here for a printable guide to our Township.

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What You Should Know About Gaines Township

Gaines Charter Township is a community which places a high value on family life, good moral standards, a sense of community and a desire to enrich the lives of all its residents. The goal of the Gaines Charter Township officials and staff is to provide exemplary service to the residents and businesses of the township in an active, positive and respectful manner; and to utilize the resources of the township in the best and most efficient manner possible.

Township Population

1990 14,533
1995 17,256
2001 20,112
2010 25,146

All meetings are held at Gaines Charter Township Offices located at 8555 Kalamazoo Avenue SE, in the Board Room.

All interested persons are invited to attend and participate. Persons with disabilities needing accommodation for effective participation in the meeting should contact the township office at (616) 698-6640 a week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing or other assistance.

Meeting Locations/Times

  • The Township Board meets on the second Monday of every month
    at 7:00 PM.
  • The Planning Commission meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at 7:00 PM.
  • The Zoning Board meets on the second Wednesday of every month
    at 7:00 PM.