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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. 6054

April 14, 1982


Supervisor--right to cast a regular vote

A township supervisor is a voting member of a township board and is not limited to voting only in the event of a tie vote.

Honorable Francis R. Spaniola

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan 48909

You have asked for my opinion on the following question regarding the role of a township supervisor in voting on township matters:

'Shall the Supervisor cast his/her vote only in the case of a tie or does he/she have a regular vote to cast similar to that of a trustee?'

RS 1846, c 16, Sec. 70, MCLA 41.70; MSA 5.75, provides, in pertinent part:

'The supervisor, 2 trustees, the township treasurer and the township clerk, shall constitute the township board, any 3 of whom shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business: . . ..' (1) [Emphasis added.]

Absent evidence of a contrary legislative intent, the words of a statute must be given their plain and ordinary meaning. Baker v General Motors Corp, 409 Mich 639; 297 NW2d 387 (1980); Bingham v American Screw Products Co, 398 Mich 546; 248 NW2d 537 (1976). The plain and ordinary meaning of the quoted statute is that a supervisor is a full voting member of a township board. The statute imposes no limitations on the authority of a supervisor to cast his or her vote. It follows that a township supervisor may vote on all township matters, just as any other member of a township board. (2) A similar conclusion was reached in OAG, 1912-1913, p 610 (June 10, 1913):

'[b]oth the supervisor and the clerk as members of the township board have a right to vote on all propositions coming before the board the same as the other members of the board. . . . The impression that obtains in some localities that the clerk does not have a vote is erroneous, as is also the impression that the supervisor only votes in case of a tie.'

OAG, 1965-1966, No 4414, p 56 (April 6, 1965), concluded that RS 1846, c 16, Sec. 70, supra, providing that the supervisor, clerk and treasurer are voting members of the township board, is constitutional.

It should be noted that a distinction may be drawn between a supervisor of a charter township organized pursuant to 1947 PA 359; MCLA 42.1 et seq; MSA 5.46(1) et seq, and a supervisor of a general law township organized pursuant to RS 1846, c 16, Sec. 70 supra. With regard to charter townships, the Legislature has specifically required that all members of a township board, which includes supervisors, vote on all matters coming before it unless there is unanimous consent to the contrary. 1947 PA 359, supra, Sec. 7(f) provides, in pertinent part:

'[Each] member of the township board who shall be recorded as present shall vote on all questions decided by the said board unless excused by the unanimous consent of the other members present. . . .'

No such specific statutory mandate has been enacted for general law townships.

RS 1846, c 16, Sec. 70, supra, conferred upon township supervisors authority to vote on matters coming before the board without limitation. It has been held that every member of a township board has a right to participate. Township Board of Beaver Creek v Hastings, 52 Mich 528; 18 NW 250 (1884).

It is my opinion, therefore, that a township supervisor is a voting member for the township board and is not limited to voting only in the event of a tie. (3)

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

(1) The balance of the section sets forth the circumstances under which certain townships may elect to have 4 rather than 2 trustees.

(2) This interpretation of a township supervisor's voting authority is generally recognized.

'The supervisor has an absolute right to vote on all motions properly made at any meeting of the township inhabitants or the township board.' Parisi, A Manual for Township Government (Callaghan & Company, 1973), p 75

(3) Of course, there are general limitations on the voting rights of all members of a township board; such as in instances of conflict of interest. See, 1968 PA 317; MCLA 15.321 et seq; MSA 4.1700(51) et seq.


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