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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 - www.ag.state.mi.us)



Opinion No. 5854

February 25, 1981


Use of public facilities by a public officer to conduct private business


Use of township facilities for the conduct of a private business

A township supervisor may not conduct a private business from his or her township office.

The Honorable Claude A. Trim

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion on the following question:

May an elected township official have a private telephone installed in his or her public office, pay the bill with personal money and conduct the business of a private enterprise from that office?

You have indicated that the elected official in question is a township supervisor engaged in a private business, over which he wishes to maintain close supervision. The township supervisor has requested permission from the township board to install a private phone, at his own expense, in the public office provided him by the township in order to conduct his private business.

It is well settled that townships have only those powers allotted to them by the Constitution or statutes:

'. . . Under the Constitution of this State, each organized township is a body corporate whose powers and immunities are prescribed by law. . . .' Netzel v Township Board of Waterford Township, 267 Mich 220, 221; 255 NW 314 (1934).

This limitation on the powers of a township was discussed in Independence Township v Roy, 12 Mich App 107, 109; 162 NW2d 339 (1968):

"'It is a general and undisputed proposition of law that a municipal corporation possesses and can exercise the following powers, and no others: First, those granted in express words; second, those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted; third, those essential to the accomplishment of the declared objects and purposes of the corporation,--not simply convenient, but indispensable."'

There is no statutory authority conferred upon a township board to authorize the installation in a township office of a private phone for the conduct of a private business.

It is my opinion, therefore, that a township supervisor may not conduct a private business from his or her township office.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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