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Opinion No. 5442

February 9, 1979


City assessor who serves on a board of directors of a corporation and assesses the corporation's property


City assessor who serves on the board of directors of a corporation and assesses the corporation's property

A city assessor who serves on the board of directors of a corporation and assesses that corporation's property for tax purposes, is not in a conflict of interest.

Honorable Martin D. Buth

State Representative

90th District

Capitol Building

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion as to whether any state conflict of interest law is contravened where a city assessor serves on a bank's board of directors and assesses the bank's properties for tax purposes.

The conflict of interest statute in this state pertaining to 'public servants' is 1968 PA 317, MCLA 15.321 et seq; MSA 4.1700(51) et seq. 1968 PA 317, supra, Sec. 2(1) states:

'No public servant shall be a party, directly or indirectly, to any contract between himself and the public entity of which he is an officer or employee, except as provided in section 3.'

Thus, 1968 PA 317, supra, pertains to conflict of interest situations in respect to contracts between a public servant and the public entity which he serves.

In the case of an assessor assessing property in which he has an interest, there is no contractual relationship between the assessor and the public entity. Thus, there is no direct violation of the conflict of interest statute.

It should initially be noted that as to home rule cities, 1909 PA 279, Sec. 3; MCLA 117.3; MSA 5.2073 provides in part that:

'Each city charter shall provide:

(a) For the election of a mayor who shall be the chief executive officer of the city, and of a body vested with legislative power, and for the election or appointment of a clerk, a treasurer, an assessor or board of assessors, a board of review, and such other officers as may be deemed necessary . . .' (emphasis added)

In dealing with how an assessment is made, 1893 PA 206, Sec. 18, as amended; MCLA 211.18; MSA 7.18 states in part:

'Each supervisor or other assessing officer, as soon as possible after entering upon the duties of his office, or as may be directed and required by the provisions of any acts of incorporation of any city or village making special provisions for such assessment, shall ascertain the taxable property of his assessing district, and the persons to whom it should be assessed and their residences . . .' (emphasis added)

Thus, depending on a city's acts of incorporation or charter, the city assessor may be elected or appointed, and his duties extend to all property in his assessment district.

It has been held that where an assessor has pecuniary interest in an assessment in that his compensation was based on the aggregate of assessment made, his office was nonjudicial and his interest was excused because of necessity. Jackson Lumber Company v McCrimmon, 164 F 759 (1908). See also, 3 Cooley, Law of Taxation, Sec. 1004. The legislature could have, but did not, disqualify an assessor from assessing his own property by requiring that another assessor be appointed for that purpose.

It is my opinion that a city assessor who serves on a bank's board of directors and assesses that bank's property for tax purposes is not in contravention of the conflict of interest statute, 1968 PA 317, supra.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General