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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. 6038

February 3, 1982


Board of commissioners--authority to close offices of elected officials for one week each month

A county board of commissioners is without authority to order the closing of all offices of elected county officials for one week each month.

Honorable D. J. Jacobetti

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion on the following question:

'Does the County Board of Commissioners have a legal right to completely close the elected officials' offices for one week out of each month?'

The authority of county boards of commissioners to establish office hours for county officers has been based upon 1851 PA 156, Sec. 11(p) and (q); MCLA 46.11; MSA 5.331, which authorizes county boards of commissioners to '[r]epresent the county and have the care and management of the property and business of the county if other provisions are not made,' and to '[e]stablish rules and regulations in reference to the management of the interest and business concerns of the county, . . .' and 1865 PA 124; MCLA 435.101 et seq; MSA 18.861 et seq, which designates certain legal holidays for municipal offices, inter alia. OAG, 1943-1944, No 24974, p 161, 162 (November 23, 1942), relying upon statutory language comparable to 1851 PA 156, Sec. 11(p), supra, concluded:

'Accordingly, in the absence of any action taken by the Board of Supervisors the county officer may so long as he acts reasonably prescribe the office hours for the office in which he is the incumbent. However, it appears also that the Board of Supervisors, under the power of management given it in the statute quoted, may make reasonable regulations pertaining to the office hours of all county officers.' [Emphasis added.]

See also, OAG, 1945-1946, No 0-4672, p 699 (May 15, 1946); and OAG, 1952-1954, No 1670, p 172 (June 9, 1953). Compare OAG, 1952-1954, No 1571, p 14 (July 14, 1952). OAG, 1952-1954, No 1670, supra, states:

'[t]here is no statute requiring county offices to remain open during any given number of hours or upon any particular days of the week. Should the legislature determine that the public convenience requires such offices to remain open according to any particular schedule, it may of course so require by appropriate statutory provision. In the absence thereof determination of such a schedule lies within the reasonable discretion of the board of supervisors.' [Emphasis added.] OAG, 1952-1954, No 1670, supra, p 172, 173.

It should be noted that the Legislature has not enacted a statute fixing the time that offices of elected county officials are to be open to members of the public. The above opinions discuss office hours in terms of a five-day week, such as closing on Thursday and Saturday afternoons, or all day Saturday. They also conclude that the office hours established by the county board of commissioners should be reasonable.

The elected officers of a county include a county clerk, treasurer, sheriff, prosecuting attorney, register of deeds, county commissioners, and in some counties, a drain commissioner, auditors, and members of the county board of road commissioners. County offices perform a wide variety of necessary and essential governmental and public service functions. As examples, county clerks have the custody of circuit court records, records of the county board of commissioners and other county offices, election records, corporate and partnership records, vital statistics such as birth, death and marriage records, etc.; registers of deeds maintain records of deeds and conveyances, mortgages and discharges, mechanics liens, notice of lis pendens, financing statements and security agreements, etc.; and county treasurers maintain tax and financial records, and dispense and receive county funds.

The record keeping function and other essential governmental services performed by elected county officers contemplate access to the records, and the offices where they are retained, by the courts, other governmental agencies, and the general public. If all elective county offices were to close for a week each month, non-access would span a nine-day period during which essential public records and services would not be available. A myriad of commercial and legal transactions dependent upon access to such records would be adversely affected. For example, it is to be noted that the Freedom of Information Act, 1976 PA 442; MCLA 15.231 et seq; MSA 4.1801(1) et seq, assumes in its compliance requirements availability of public records. County offices, closed for a nine-day consecutive period, would, in most instances, be incapable of complying with 1976 PA 442, supra, within the prescribed statutory period. In addition, closing of the offices of elected county officials for a week would interfere with performance of the statutory duties by the elected county officers. Thus, closing of such offices for one week in each month would be unreasonable.

It is my opinion, therefore, that a county board of commissioners is without authority to order the closing of all offices of elected county officials for one week each month.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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