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Opinion No. 6743

December 10, 1992


Township clerk and township assessor of the same township

The positions of township clerk and township assessor of the same township are compatible in a township with a population of less than 25,000.

Honorable Phil Arthurhultz

State Senator

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan

You have asked whether an individual may simultaneously serve as township clerk and township assessor of the same township.

A township clerk is a voting 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). Both general law and charter township boards may appoint township assessors and establish their compensation. See, respectively, MCL 41.61; MSA 5.52, and MCL 42.11a; MSA 5.46(11.1). Appointed assessors are employees of the township. 1 OAG, 1957-1958, No 3045, p 344 (July 12, 1957).

The incompatible offices act, 1978 PA 566, MCL 15.181 et seq; MSA 15.1120(121) et seq, in section 2, prohibits one person from simultaneously holding two or more incompatible public positions. Section 1(b) of 1978 PA 566 defines incompatible offices as:

[P]ublic 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.

The township board has the authority to appoint a township assessor and establish the assessor's compensation. The township clerk, as a member of the township board, would participate in his or her own appointment as an assessor and in establishing his or her own compensation. This supervision of one public office by another falls within the provisions of section 1(b)(ii) of 1978 PA 566.

However, the analysis does not end with that determination. Section 3 of 1978 PA 566 was amended by 1992 PA 10 and now provides, in relevant portion:

(4) Section 2 shall not be construed to do any of the following:


(c) Limit the authority of the governing body of a city, village, township, or county having a population of less than 25,000 to authorize a public officer or public employee to perform, with or without compensation, other additional services for the unit of local government.

In 1992 PA 10, the Legislature clearly recognized the need for governmental units of limited population to utilize their public officials and employees to fill all of the available public positions. An examination of the legislative history of 1992 PA 10 reveals that:

The bills are a response to problems that have arisen in small, mostly rural communities, which often must rely on the same people to serve in several different capacities in order to fulfill the communities' needs. Larger and more urban communities normally have little need for part-time or volunteer emergency workers.

Senate Legislative Analysis, HB 4262 and HB 4263, February 13, 1992. (1)

You have advised that the population of Hart Township is currently less than 25,000. Thus, 1992 PA 10 applies to the clerk of Hart Township also serving as township assessor.

It is my opinion, therefore, that the positions of township clerk and township assessor for the same township are compatible in a township with a population of less than 25,000.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

(1 1992 PA 9 added section 3a to the statute dealing with conflicts of interest by public servants, 1968 PA 317, MCL 15)321 et seq; MSA 4.1700(51) et seq, to, inter alia, allow members of governing bodies of cities, villages, townships and counties that have a population under 25,000 to also provide additional services for and receive compensation from their respective units of government.