City stays with SEMCOG

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published December 5, 2012

WARREN — Times are tough, money is tight, and while Warren’s leaders don’t have a crystal ball to tell them what’s coming down the pike, they do have the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Citing access to volumes of complied data, trend analyses, and insight into issues that affect municipalities in metro Detroit, the City Council voted unanimously last month to approve a one-year SEMCOG membership at a cost of $15,271.

Approval of the membership was recommended by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts’ administration.

“The information they provide, the data, is worth more than $15,271,” Council Member Robert Boccomino said. “I know that we’ve used it. We’ve had them come in and discuss the issues, look at the data.”

On its website, SEMCOG calls itself, “the only organization in Southeast Michigan that brings together all of the region’s governments to solve regional challenges.”

Its mission includes advocating on behalf of the region in Lansing and Washington; encouraging governmental efficiency and sound, long-term infrastructure investment through the efficient use of tax dollars; promoting informed decision-making through data analysis; and providing assistance to member governments in areas, including transportation, the environment, and community and economic development.

The city of Warren hosted a SEMCOG collaboration summit with leaders from communities in Macomb and St. Clair counties in July, where ideas for managing assets, identifying best practices and getting the most out of infrastructure investments were discussed.

“In regards to receiving that data, and the support they provide the city in all different aspects of governing, I don’t know how we’d do without them,” City Council President Cecil St. Pierre said. “They can put on the radar trends, things that are going on, and what we have to look forward to, how we should govern. That’s why they’re so valuable. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.

“They’ve been at it, and they can tell us what’s going on and how we should react,” St. Pierre added.

Council Secretary Scott Stevens said he recently attended part of a SEMCOG workshop in Warren that featured classes for city officials.

“They have so much information on the demographics of the city and the area that we would be foolish not to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise they have,” Stevens said.