A county is a local level of government created as a subdivision of a state by the state government or territorial government as a subdivision of a territory. There are 83 counties in Michigan and these counties are further subdivided into townships and contain other independent, self-governing municipalities such as cities, villages or charter townships. The site of a county's administration and courts is called the county seat. The distribution of power between the state government, county governments, and municipal governments is defined in the constitution of Michigan.
Counties are usually governed by an elected board of supervisors such as a county commission. In some counties, there is a county executive. The board in charge of a county holds powers that transcend all three traditional branches of government. It has the legislative power to enact ordinances for the county; it has the executive power to oversee the executive operations of county government; and it has quasi-judicial power with regard to certain limited matters like hearing appeals from the planning commission if one exists. As for the day-to-day operations of the county government, they are sometimes overseen by a county manager or chief administrative officer who reports to the board, the executive, or both.
Counties in Michigan typically provide some measure of services which can include public utilities, libraries, hospitals, public health services, parks, roads, law enforcement, and jails. There is usually a county registrar, recorder or clerk who collects vital statistics, holds elections (sometimes in coordination with a separate elections office or commission), and prepares or processes certificates of birth, death, marriage, and dissolution. In larger counties, other key county officials include the coroner-medical examiner, treasurer, assessor, auditor, controller, and district attorney. In many locations, the county sheriff is the principal law enforcement officer in the county.
In Michigan, unincorporated land is controlled by the township and not the respective county. Residents of unincorporated land who are dissatisfied with county-level or township-level resource allocation decisions can incorporate as a city or village.