The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site -



Opinion No. 5313

June 14, 1978


Compensation for members of boards of trustees



Where the Community College Act prohibits members of the board of trustees of a community college from receiving any compensation for services rendered, the board may not adopt a resolution permitting members of the board, their spouses and dependents to take tuition-free credit courses at the community college.

Honorable R. Robert Geake

State Senator

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion on a question which may be stated as follows:

Does the Educational Grant Policy Fund established by a community college board of trustees, which allows members of the board of trustees, their spouses and dependents, to take credit courses tuition free, violate the Community College Act, Sec. 112, 1966 PA 331, MCLA 389.112; MSA 15.615(1112)?

The Community College Act, 1966 PA 331, Sec. 112, MCLA 389.112; MSA 15.615(1112), states as follows:

'No member of the board of trustees . . . may receive any compensation for any services rendered the district. Expenses of board members may be reimbursed when the expenses are authorized by the board of trustees.' (emphasis added)

Compensation is considered to be remuneration, in whatever form, for services. State v Bland, 91 Kan 160, 167, 136 P 947, 949-950 (1913). It includes intangibles having some value such as pensions, health insurance benefits and life insurance, as well as salary. Holmes v State Compensation Commission, 57 Mich App 255, 226 NW2d 90 (1974).

In Holmes, supra, where an action for mandamus was brought against the State Compensation Commission by state senators, the Court of Appeals concluded that the constitutional authority of the State Compensation Commission was limited to setting salary and expense allowance for named state officials. The Court rejected the argument of the Commission that it could determine total compensation including fringe benefits, basing its ruling on the limited authority of the Commission under Const 1963, art 4, Sec. 12, as amended.

The Court stated:

'. . . This Court finds the substitution of the word 'salaries' for the word 'compensation' persuasive on the matter of intent, especially when considered in the context that legislators were receiving fringe benefits at the time and that the word 'compensation' was the word previously used in this state's constitutions.' 57 Mich App at 262, 226 NW2d at 94-95.

Thus, it is clear that fringe benefits are included within the term 'compensation.'

Inasmuch as free tuition for courses taken for credit constitutes a fringe benefit and is a form of compensation, it is my opinion, that the policy of the board of trustees of a community college which makes available to members of the board, their spouses and dependents, tuition-free courses for credit, violates the Community College Act, Sec. 112, supra, which prohibits members of the board from receiving any compensation for services rendered.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General