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Can a Township Supervisor appoint a Deputy Supervisor who also acts as a Trustee for the Township?

A Township Supervisor can appoint a Deputy Supervisor. The Deputy takes an oath of office and may be paid a salary or otherwise as determined by the Board. The Deputy serves at the pleasure of the Supervisor and acts in their absence, sickness, or other disability but will not have a vote on the Board. See MCL 41.61(2). This position is the proper way to fill an extended vacancy by the Supervisor.

Whether the Deputy Supervisor may also be a Trustee requires consideration of the Incompatible Public Offices Act, MCL 15.181 et seq. Generally, a public official may not hold two offices which results in any of the following:

(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.

A Trustee serving as the Deputy Supervisor would be serving at the pleasure of the Supervisor. Therefore, the Trustee would be supervised by the Supervisor, creating supervision of one public office by another. This creates a conflict between the office of Trustee and Deputy Supervisor.

But the Act provides an exception for smaller townships. MCL 15.183(4)(c) provides that the Act does not limit the authority of the governing body of a township “having a population of less than 40,000 to authorize a public officer or public employee to perform, with or without compensation, other additional services for the unit of local government.” This provision and the scope of “other additional services” have been given broad interpretation. Therefore, in smaller townships and in appropriate circumstances, the Board may authorize a Trustee to perform other services that may otherwise be in conflict.

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