Internet presence among Michigan local governments: websites, online services, and experience with virtual meetings

May 2022

This report presents the views of Michigan’s local government leaders regarding their jurisdiction’s online presence, including whether their local government has an official website and what it provides, the use of  teleconferencing for official meetings, what problems they face with the government’s online presence, and their satisfaction with it overall. The findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the spring 2021 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), with comparisons to the fall 2012 MPPS wave.

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Key findings

  • Overall, 81% of Michigan local governments report having their own website, while 29% report having an official social media presence, for instance, on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Nearly all of Michigan’s bigger jurisdictions—those with over 10,000 residents—have had an official government website for over a decade. Meanwhile the percentage of the state’s smallest jurisdictions—those with less than 1,500 residents—that report having their own website has increased from 52% in 2012 to 63% in 2021.
  • Local leaders indicate that the most common uses of local government websites are providing information for public meetings (90%) and  contacting local officials (86%), disseminating ordinances and regulations (77%), and other information about public services (74%). Fewer than half (46%) say they allow online payments (for taxes, fees, etc.), or the ability to obtain permits or licenses or to request other services (35%).
    • Urban jurisdictions, which tend to be larger and have more resources to devote to their websites compared with more rural jurisdictions, are  more likely to provide various high-tech online offerings. For instance,  88% of urban jurisdictions allow online payments, compared with 31%  of rural jurisdictions.
  • Key problems discouraging jurisdictions’ online presence include lack of broadband and high-speed internet access (reported by 52% of local  officials), as well as insufficient technical expertise (46%) and funding (40%).
  • Statewide, 65% of local officials are at least somewhat satisfied with their  jurisdiction’s online presence, although only 22% are very satisfied.
    • Just 53% of local leaders from Michigan’s smallest jurisdictions are  satisfied with their online presence (or lack thereof), compared with  82% from the largest jurisdictions (those with over 30,000 residents).
  • As of spring 2021, 81% of local leaders say their jurisdictions held at least  some meetings via teleconference or video technology (for example, via  Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Meetings, etc.) in the previous 12 months  during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes nearly all of the largest  jurisdictions, and fully 69% of the smallest ones.