County Commissions and the board of review
Can a Michigan county commissioner also serve on the board of review?
Over the years, a number of Michigan State University Extension news articles have been devoted to the topic of incompatible office. According to Michigan law, a person cannot hold two public offices if any of the following are true: (1) when one office is subordinate to the other, (2) when an officeholder comes under the supervision of the same officeholder in the other agency, and (3) when the dual office holding leads to a breach of duty of the public office.
For a more in depth discussion of incompatible office, check out these articles on the subject:
- County Commissioners and a Special Type of Conflict of Interest Called Incompatible Offices: Part 1 and Part 2.
- Incompatible Office: What Does It Mean and How Does It Differ From a Conflict of Interest?
- Are Village President and Village Manager Incompatible Offices?
Recently, the Michigan Attorney General issued an opinion addressing incompatible office. Specifically, the question raised was whether a person could serve simultaneously as a County Commissioner and a member of a board of review in the same county.
County Commissioners are generally responsible for managing legislative affairs of the county. The board of review hears complaints from property owners disputing the valuations and classifications established by assessors for property tax purposes. Once the board of review has completed its duty of ensuring that the valuation of property on the assessment roll is “relatively just and proper” under the General Property Tax Act the roll is delivered to the equalization director. Then, the board of commissioners takes the final action by examining the rolls and if necessary, modifying local assessments deemed to be unequal.
So, both the board of review and the county commission has a role in the assessment process. Within that process, the county commission makes the final decision, meaning that it, in effect, according to the Attorney General opinion, have a supervisory role over the board of review.
As a result, the Attorney General opinion states that “The offices of county commissioner and local board of review member are incompatible under subsection 1(b)(ii), MCL 15.181(b)(ii) of the Incompatible Public Offices Act.
Those in Michigan State University Extension that focus on Government and Public Policy provide various training programs, which are available to be presented in your county. Contact your local Government and Public Policy educator for more information.