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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. 6508

March 16, 1988


Transfers of county library funds to county law library fund

The transfer of funds from the county library fund to the county law library fund is to be made on a semiannual basis, but the total amount transferred may not exceed annually the maximum amount authorized by MCL 600.4851(1); MSA 27A.4851(1).

Honorable John J. H. Schwarz, M.D.

State Senator

The Capitol

Lansing, MI 48909

You have asked for my opinion regarding certain statutorily-required transfers of money by the county treasurer from the county library fund to the county law library fund.

These semiannual transfers are governed by MCL 600.4851(1); MSA 27A.4851(1), which provides, in part, particularly with reference to the county to which your inquiry refers:

'In each county the county treasurer shall credit semiannually to a fund to be known as the county law library fund, from the library fund, an amount as follows:

'. . . .

'(b) In counties having a population of 50,000 or more, but less than 250,000 inhabitants, the sum credited shall not exceed:

(i) For 1981, $3,000.00.

(ii) For 1982, $4,750.00

(iii) For 1983 and each year thereafter, $6,500.00.' (Emphasis added.)

According to materials provided with your letter, the county treasurer in question transferred the following amounts from the county library fund to the county law library fund:

--Fiscal year 1985: semiannual deposits of $3,250

--Fiscal year 1986: semiannual deposits of $3,000

--Fiscal year 1987: semiannual deposits of $3,000

Your question may be stated as follows:

What maximum amount may be transferred semiannually by the county treasurer from the county library fund to the county law library fund pursuant to MCL 600.4851(1); MSA 27A.4851(1)?

The county library fund is the depository for all fines received by the county treasurer for the violation of the penal laws. MCL 600.4845(1); MSA 27A.4845(1). The distribution of these penal fines for library purposes other than the county law library fund is governed by MCL 397.31 et seq; MSA 15.1793(1) et seq, which specifically provides at MCL 397.37; MSA 15.1793(7), that its provisions shall not be construed as affecting the provisions of MCL 600.4845 and 600.4851; MSA 27A.4845 and 27A.4851.

A reading of MCL 600.4851(1); MSA 27A.4851(1), discloses that no fixed amount is specified for these transfers. In lieu of a fixed amount, the Legislature has imposed a ceiling which may not be exceeded. There is some question in reading the statute whether the ceiling is to be applied annually or semiannually. Because the statute is ambiguous, the legislative history of the statute and bill analysis may be reviewed as an aid in determining the legislative intent. Luttrell v Dep't of Corrections, 421 Mich 93, 103-104; 365 NW2d 74 (1984).

MCL 600.4851; MSA 27A.4851, was enacted as 1961 PA 236, Sec. 4851. It was amended by 1982 PA 18 and 1982 PA 173. 1982 PA 18 is of interest because it amended subsection (1)(b), dealing with counties with population of 50,000-250,000.

House Legislative Analysis, HB 4032, March 17, 1982, enacted as 1982 PA 18, indicates that the maximum payments to county law libraries for counties in the provision are annual in nature rather than semiannual:

'The bill would raise the maximum amount which could be credited annually to each county law library fund as follows:

County Population Current Maximum 1982 1983 and After

50,000-250,000 $3,000 4,750 $6,500'

(Emphasis added.)

The discretionary nature of the amount of funds to be transferred from the county library fund to the county law library fund is underscored by other portions of that bill analysis:

'Since 1935 Michigan counties have been funding county public libraries and county law libraries with revenue from penal fines. Every county treasurer is required by state law to credit money semiannually to the county law library fund from the county library fund. The law does not specify the sum to be credited, but does set a maximum amount to be allotted to law libraries. . . .

'. . . .

'Since the present dollar maximums were established in 1957, income to county library funds from penal fines has more than doubled while the amount available to law libraries has remained stable. . . . The proposed increased maximums, while they are not a permanent solution to the problem of maintaining law libraries, will at least alleviate the urgency of the situation.' House Legislative Analysis, HB 4032, March 17, 1982.

These sections of the bill analysis make it clear that the Legislature was not imposing a requirement that specific amounts of money must be transferred semiannually by the county treasurer, but rather, establishing annual ceilings above which such transfers may not be made.

It is my opinion, therefore, that while MCL 600.4851(1); MSA 27A.4851(1), does not set forth a specific amount of money which the county treasurer must transfer semiannually from the county library fund to the county law library fund, the section does provide that transfers between those funds are to be made on a semiannual basis and that those transfers may not exceed annually the applicable ceiling set out in the section.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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