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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. 6618

February 13, 1989


Township trustee-township assessor

A person serving as a township trustee may not simultaneously serve as the township assessor in the same township.

Honorable Richard D. Fessler

State Senator

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan

You have requested my opinion on whether a person serving as township trustee may simultaneously serve as the township assessor of the same township.

A township trustee is a member of the township board in both general law townships, MCL 41.70; MSA 5.62, and charter townships, MCL 42.5; MSA 5.46(5). In general law and charter townships, the township board may appoint township assessors and establish their compensation. MCL 41.61 and 42.11a; MSA 5.52 and 5.46(11.1). Appointed assessors are employees of the township. 1 OAG, 1957-1958, No 3045, p 344 (July 12, 1957).

MCL 15.182; MSA 15.1120(122), precludes public officers or public employees from holding two or more incompatible offices at the same time. MCL 15.181(b); MSA 15.1120(121)(b), defines "incompatible offices" as:

"Public offices held by a public official which, when the official is performing the duties of any of the public offices held by the official, results in any of the following with respect to those offices held:

(i) The subordination of 1 public office to another.

(ii) The supervision of 1 public office by another.

(iii) A breach of duty of public office."

This statute prevents a person from holding a public office and a public employment where one is subordinate to or subject to supervision by the other. OAG, 1979-1980, No 5626, p 537, 541 (January 16, 1980).

In OAG, 1983-1984, No 6126, p 41, 42 (February 15, 1983), it was concluded that a township treasurer may not simultaneously serve as an assessor in the same township:

"The township treasurer, as a member of the township board, would participate in his or her own appointment as an assessor, and the setting of the compensation therefore, which gives rise to the subordination/supervision criteria, and thus incompatibility. Compare OAG, 1981-1982, No 6030, p 534 (January 21, 1982), which concluded on the same basis that service as a mayor and city assessor of the same city was incompatible.

"Simultaneous service as an elected township treasurer and employment as assessor of the same township is also prohibited by 1976 PA 169; MCLA 15.401 et seq; MSA 4.1702(1) et seq, which precludes the holding of elective office and, at the same time, employment by the same unit of government. See OAG, 1975-1976, No 5108, p 685 (November 18, 1976), and OAG, 1979-1980, No 5621, p 533 (January 9, 1980)."

The reasoning of that opinion is equally applicable to the situation about which you ask.

It is my opinion, therefore, that a person serving as a township trustee may not simultaneously serve as township assessor of the same township.

Very truly yours,

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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