Benzie County Government- A Summary

Government, in the State of Michigan, consists of a central state government, headquartered in Lansing, the state capital. It also consists of many systems of local government, arranged by geography. These include 83 county governments, several hundred township governments (contained within the counties), and several thousand cities and villages (contained within the townships).

In Michigan’s early days, the county governments were headed by of a “Board of Supervisors” that consisted of the township supervisors from the townships located within the county borders. However about 40 years ago county government was changed to consist of elected officers consisting of a County Commission (to perform legislative and budgetary functions), about five elective officers (to perform the executive and administrative functions) and three judges (usually circuit, district, and family court) to perform the judicial functions of government. Sometimes, especially among smaller counties, some judges may serve several counties.

Although some counties are somewhat different, Benzie County government consists of a County Commission of seven members, three judges, and five other elected officers who are administrative department heads. These elected department heads are a county clerk, a county treasurer, a county prosecutor, a register of deeds, and a county sheriff.

In addition to elected officers, there are some local governmental departments that are headed by officers appointed by the county commission. These include such departments as planning, building (inspections etc.), animal control, county administration, equalization (for taxes), and several others.

And in addition to the elective departments and appointive departments there are about fifty other local governmental organizations - authorities, commissions, boards, and agencies, departments, etc. Many of these are shared by several counties. Examples are the Road Commission, Health Department (shared with Leelanau County), Community Mental Health (shared with Manistee County and also several mid-state counties), Council on Aging, Community Corrections, Northwest Michigan Substance Abuse Agency (about 12 counties), Airport Authority (shared with the City of Frankfort) and many others. In most cases the county commission appoints the governing boards of these organizations, but the county commission does not directly control them. Our circuit court and district court judges are shared with Manistee County but our family court only serves our county.

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