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A Charter Township is a form of local government in the U.S. state of Michigan. In general, a township in Michigan, like a county, is a statutory unit of government, in that they only have those powers expressly provided for or implied by state law.
In 1947, the state legislature created a special charter township status, which grants additional powers and stream-lined administration in order to provide greater protection against annexation of a township's land by cities and villages. As of 2001, there were 127 charter townships in Michigan. A township with a population of 2,000 or more may incorporate as a charter township and become a municipal corporation, which possess all the powers of a non-charter township in addition to those specified by the Charter Township Act of 1947.
Legislative authority is exercised by a township board of 7 members composed of the supervisor, the township clerk, the township treasurer, and 4 trustees who are eligible to vote in elections and are residents of the township. Charter townships may appoint either a township superintendent or township manager, who can be assigned responsibilities for managing township functions (this is comparable to cities that utilize a city manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of the city).
A charter township may establish a variety of municipal services, such as a police force, fire department, assessors and also acquire property. It may also borrow money and issue bonds, with the approval of a majority of township voting in an election. Similarly, a charter township cannot levy taxes without the approval of a majority of township voting in an election. This is one significant difference from home-rule municipalities, in which the municipal authority can levy taxes without specific approval from voters (of course, the authorities can be voted out of office in the next election).
A charter township is exempt from annexation from contiguous cities or villages providing that the township meets certain requirements:
- Has state equalized valuation of at least $25,000,000
- Has a minimum population density of 150 people per square mile (58/km²)
- Provides fire protection service by contract or otherwise
- Is governed by a comprehensive zoning ordinance or master plan
- Provides solid waste disposal services to township residents, within or without the township, by contract, license, or municipal ownership
- Provides water or sewer services, or both, by contract or otherwise
- Provides police protection through contract with the sheriff in addition to normal sheriff patrol, through an intergovernmental contract, or through its own police department
However, the charter township may still be subject to annexation under certain conditions, such as for the purpose of eliminating isolated islands of township or by vote of a majority of the residents of a portion of township.
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