With the possibility of Holly, MI becoming a city, which we first reported earlier this week, we wondered: Could any village in Michigan do the same?

It turns out, it's not just a simple matter of voting in favor of "cityhood" for it to happen.

See Also: Did you know Michigan has a ghost town buried by a sand dune?

Why would a village want to become a city in Michigan?

In the case of Holly, MI, residents of the village could save money in annual taxes.

Credit: Google Street View
Credit: Google Street View

They pay the township for shared services. And pay taxes for village-specific services.

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So, there could be an impactful savings to split from the township. Not to mention autonomy to set your own ordinances, policies, etc.

Can any Michigan village choose to become a city?

Surprisingly, no.

First, a village needs to have a population of, at least, 750 residents with a density of 500 persons per square mile. That's according to Michigan Municipal League.

Village of Gaines Marker Credit Google Street View
Village of Gaines Marker Credit Google Street View

We'll use the Village of Gaines in Genesee County as one example. The village has approximately 375 residents according to the 2020 Census.

So, even if they wanted to become a city, they couldn't. (By the way, Gaines Township has over 6,000 residents.)

Then, there's Otisville, MI, a village in Forest Township.

Otisville Village Limits marker. Credit Google Street View
Otisville Village Limits marker. Credit Google Street View

Because Otisville's population is just over 800 people and the village is one square mile, they could vote to become a city, if they wanted to do so.

Just under 4,500 people live in Forest Township as of the 2020 Census.

What changes when a village becomes a city?

Residents create a city charter, vote on laws, ordinances, policies, etc. But there's more.

Goodrich Village Marker Credit Google Street View
Goodrich Village Marker Credit Google Street View

Three other important items:

  • Assessing property as a basis of county and school taxes.
  • Collecting taxes for the counties and schools.
  • Conducting county, state and national elections.

If the village doesn't already have police, fire and garbage services -- those will need to be solved for. And paying people to do those jobs.

Since Genesee County's Goodrich is a larger village with over 2,000 residents, they may want to investigate the benefits of becoming a city based on property taxes alone.

Democracy really does work at the local level... if we choose to participate.

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