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) STATE OF MICHIGAN
FRANK J. KELLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL
Certified level four assessor serving as a member of the Michigan State Tax Commission
It is not an incompatibility of public position for a certified level four assessor to serve as a member of the Michigan State Tax Commission so long as the member is not also employed as an assessor by a unit of government in Michigan.
Opinion No. 6933
March 12, 1997
Honorable Joe Conroy
You have asked if it is an incompatibility of public position for a certified level four assessor to serve as a member of the Michigan State Tax Commission.
1978 PA 566, MCL 15.181 et seq; MSA 15.1120(121) et seq, governs the incompatibility of public offices by prohibiting 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) breach of duty of public office.
Section 2(1) of 1927 PA 360, MCL 209.101 et seq; MSA 7.631 et seq, which deals with membership on the State Tax Commission, provides, in pertinent part, that:
The state tax commission shall consist of 3 commissioners, not more than 2 of whom shall be members of the same political party to be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. All of the commissioners shall have had at least 5 years experience in government or the private sector, dealing with state or local tax matters. Not less than 1 of the commissioners shall be a certified assessor holding the highest level of certification granted by the state assessors board [level four].
Section 4 of 1927 PA 360, provides, in pertinent part, that:
The state tax commission shall have general supervision of the administration of the tax laws of the state, and shall render such assistance and give such advice and counsel to the assessing officers of the state as they may deem necessary and essential to the proper administration of the laws governing assessments and the levying of taxes in this state.
Further, section 150(1) of 1893 PA 206, MCL 211.150(1); MSA 7.208(1), provides, with regard to the duties of the State Tax Commission, that:
It shall be the duty of the commission:
To have and exercise general supervision over the supervisors and other assessing officers of this state, and to take such measures as will secure the enforcement of the provisions of this act, to the end that all the properties of this state liable to assessment for taxation shall be placed upon the assessment rolls and assessed at that proportion of true cash value which the legislature from time to time shall provide pursuant to the provisions of article 9, section 3 of the constitution.
Thus, on the one hand, the Legislature has required that at least one member of the State Tax Commission be a certified assessor. On the other hand, the Legislature has also granted the State Tax Commission general supervision over local assessors.
The Legislature can expressly authorize the dual holding of offices that would otherwise be incompatible. OAG, 1995-1996, No 6837, p 19 (February 23, 1995). Thus, if section 2(1) of 1927 PA 360 expressly allowed persons actively employed as certified assessors to serve as members of the State Tax Commission, the dual holding of these positions would be appropriate even if the incompatible public offices act would otherwise prohibit it.
In this instance, however, the Legislature has not specifically authorized the holding of incompatible offices. The requirement that at least one member of the State Tax Commission be a certified assessor is neither a requirement nor an authorization for that member to be actively employed as a certified assessor.
The certification of assessing officers is governed by section 10d of the General Property Tax Act, 1893 PA 206, MCL 211.10d; MSA 7.10(4). It provides that an individual may be certified as an assessor by successfully completing training in a school of assessment practices or by the passage of a test approved by the State Assessors Board. Once this process has been completed, the individual is a certified assessor. The individual does not have to be engaged in actually assessing property to be a certified assessor. The individual just has to meet the requirements for certification.
This office has been informed that, at the time of your opinion request, there was a vacancy on the State Tax Commission that had to be filled by a certified level four assessor. The vacancy has since been filled by the appointment of a certified level four assessor. However, that person is not currently employed as an assessor by any governmental unit in Michigan. Thus, the person, as a member of the State Tax Commission, is not supervising himself or herself as an assessor employed by a governmental unit in Michigan. Yet, as a certified level four assessor, the person brings the assessment expertise to the position of member of the State Tax Commission.
It is my opinion, therefore, that it is not an incompatibility of public position for a certified level four assessor to serve as a member of the Michigan State Tax Commission so long as the member is not also employed as an assessor by a unit of government in Michigan.
FRANK J. KELLEY
STATE OF MICHIGAN