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



ASSESSOR:

COUNTIES:

INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENTS:

PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT:

Intergovernmental agreements between counties and other local units of government





A local unit of government may contract with a county agency to obtain services which could also be provided by the private sector, so long as the services are those that may be performed by both local units of government.

A county equalization department may perform assessing services for a local unit of government which has not employed a certified assessor.

A county planning department may provide planning services for a local unit of government.


Opinion No. 6954

September 22, 1997


Honorable Beverly S. Hammerstrom
State Representative
The Capitol
Lansing, MI 48913


You have asked three questions dealing with intergovernmental agreements between counties and other local units of government. Your first question asks whether a local unit of government may contract with a county agency to obtain services which could also be provided by the private sector.

Local units of government, including counties, are given broad powers to enter into contracts with and to provide services to other governmental units. Const 1963, art 7, 28, requires the Legislature to authorize such cooperation among governmental units.

The legislature by general law shall authorize two or more counties, townships, cities, villages or districts, or any combination thereof among other things to: enter into contractual undertakings or agreements with one another or with the state or with any combination thereof for the joint administration of any of the functions or powers which each would have the power to perform separately; share the costs and responsibilities of functions and services with one another or with the state or with any combination thereof which each would have the power to perform separately; transfer functions or responsibilities to one another or any combination thereof upon the consent of each unit involved; cooperate with one another and with state government; lend their credit to one another or any combination thereof as provided by law in connection with any authorized publicly owned undertaking.

Examples of statutes which expressly authorize intergovernmental cooperation and agreements include the following:

Any municipal corporation shall have power to join with any other municipal corporation, or with any number or combination thereof by contract, or otherwise as may be permitted by law, for the ownership, operation, or performance, jointly, or by any 1 or more on behalf of all, of any property, facility or service which each would have the power to own, operate or perform separately.

MCL 124.2; MSA 5.4082.

A public agency of this state may exercise jointly with any other public agency of the state or with a public agency of any other state of the United States or with a public agency of the Dominion of Canada or with any public agency of the United States government, any power, privilege or authority which such agencies share in common and which each might exercise separately.

MCL 124.504; MSA 5.4088(4).

An interlocal agreement may provide for 1 or more parties to the agreement to administer or execute the agreement. One or more parties to the agreement may agree to provide all or a part of the services set forth in the agreement in the manner provided in the agreement. The parties may provide for the mutual exchange of services without payment of any contribution other than such services.

MCL 124.506; MSA 5.4088(6).

No distinction is made in these enabling statutes between services which are provided by governmental units and services which are provided by non-governmental units in the private sector. However, these intergovernmental cooperation statutes consistently require that both the county and the unit being assisted by the county agency must be engaged in an activity which each would have the power to perform separately.

It is my opinion, therefore, in answer to your first question, that a local unit of government may contract with a county agency to obtain services which could also be provided by the private sector, so long as the services are those that may be performed by both local units of government.

Your second question asks whether a county equalization department may perform assessing services for a local unit of government. This second question is addressed by the General Property Tax Act, 1893 PA 206, MCL 211.1 et seq; MSA 7.1 et seq. Section 10d(6) of the Tax Act provides, in part, as follows:

A local assessing district which does not have an assessor qualified by certification of the board may employ an assessor so qualified. If a local assessing district does not have an assessor qualified by certification of the board, and has not employed a certified assessor, the assessment shall be made by the county tax or equalization department or the state tax commission and the cost of preparing the rolls shall be charged to the local assessing district.

Section 10d(6) of the Tax Act was discussed in OAG, 1993-1994, No 6808, p 167, 168 (June 29, 1994), as follows:

Both OAG, 1979-1980, No 5626, at p 546, and OAG, 1991-1992, No 6737, at p 192, recognized that county tax or equalization department employees may provide assistance to a local assessor in preparing the assessment roll. Further, the Legislature has authorized a county tax or equalization department to prepare a local assessment roll when the local unit does not employ a qualified assessor.

It is my opinion, therefore, in answer to your second question, that a county equalization department may perform assessing services for a local unit of government which has not employed a certified assessor.

Your third question asks whether a county planning department may provide planning services for a local unit of government. Cities, villages, and townships are all authorized to engage in planning activities pursuant to 1931 PA 285, MCL 125.31 et seq; MSA 5.2991 et seq. Specifically, section 2 of that act provides, in part, as follows:

Any municipality is authorized and empowered to make, adopt, amend, extend, add to, or carry out a municipal plan as provided in this act and create by ordinance a planning commission with the powers and duties provided in this act.

Counties are likewise authorized to engage in planning activities pursuant to 1945 PA 282, MCL 125.101 et seq; MSA 5.1192(1) et seq. Section 1 of that act provides, in part, as follows:

Any county is hereby authorized and empowered to make, adopt, amend, extend, add to, or carry out a county plan as provided in this act and create by ordinance a planning commission with the powers and duties herein set forth.

The planning commission of a city, village or township may "contract with city planners, engineers, architects, and other consultants for such services as it may require." MCL 125.35; MSA 5.2995. Similarly, county planning commissions must cooperate with local units of government in the planning process. MCL 125.104; MSA 5.1192(4). These statutes and the intergovernmental cooperation statutes discussed in the answer to your first question compel the conclusion that county planning officials are authorized to provide planning services to units of local government.

It is my opinion, therefore, in answer to your third question, that a county planning department may provide planning services for a local unit of government.



FRANK J. KELLEY
Attorney General