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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

Charters - General Law Village

Question:
Where can I find the text of the General Law Village Act (1895 PA 3)

Answer:
Click here to view the Act on the Michigan Legislature's Web Site.

Question:
The elected treasurer in our general law village often takes materials home for long periods of time – records, tax documents, etc. Does this happen in any other village and how is it handled?

Answer:
We don’t know how other villages handle this when their part-time officials sometimes work at home, which appears to be the situation here. There are some issues that merit consideration. The books and other records need to be made available to others, including the village president who is charged with supervision over the affairs of the village (see section 64.1of the General Law Village Act). Many of the records are subject to freedom of information requests as well and need to be available for compliance with statutory requirements in fulfilling such requests. Another consideration is safekeeping procedures for the records. We'd be interested in solutions used by other villages.

Question:
We are a general law village. Can our treasurer appoint her own deputy? County and township officials tell us they can appoint a deputy to act on their behalf without council action.

Answer:
Counties and townships operate under different public acts than villages. MCL 62.2 of the General Law Village Act (PA 3 of 1895, revised) states, “The president may nominate and the council appoint such officers as shall be provided for by resolution or ordinance of the council.” A deputy clerk or treasurer may only be appointed by council, not by the clerk or treasurer. The council should also specify the length of service, duties, and pay, if any, for the position when they create the position. However, there is no reason the clerk cannot make a recommendation. If your village has a manager, the manager may have been given this authority.

Question:
If a president pro-tem is not working out, can the president of a General Law Village appoint someone else?

Answer:
The General Law Village Charter, MCL 65.3 states that “the council shall appoint 1 of their number president pro tempore of the council.” In other words, no.

Question:
Can our general law village become a fifth class city? If it becomes a city will the residents have to continue paying township property taxes?

Answer:
The Home Rule Cities Act states “any incorporated village having a population of more than 750 and less than 2,000 inhabitants. . . may incorporate under the provisions of this act as cities of the fifth class.” If your village is also the county seat, it may incorporate as a fifth class city regardless of population and if it lies in two townships, the minimum population is 600. (Section 7, PA 279 of 1909, as amended, MCL 117.7)

Basically, a village remains part of the township with the villagers participating in township affairs and paying township taxes (in addition to their own village taxes). Incorporation as a city, however, removes an area from township government and from the township’s tax rolls. The new city must assess its own property, collect taxes for itself, the county and the school districts, and administer city, county, state and national elections. Impact of Changing from a Village to a City discusses all the issues involved.

Question:
Our general law village is considering reducing the number of trustees to five (four plus the president). Do you have any samples for reducing the number of council members?

Answer:
As always, you should check with your village attorney to make sure any sample ordinances conform with your specific circumstances and other ordinances. There is a sample on our web site. Hope you find it useful.

Question:
What are the consequences if, on March 1 of the year following the year in which taxes are levied, an elected officer is delinquent in payment of property taxes as defined by the amendments to the General Law Village Act (MCL 62.7)?

Answer:
According to MCL 62.7 and MCL 62.11, the office shall be declared vacated. The Act also sets out the method of appointing a new trustee to fill the vacancy. We also have a One-Pager Plus on our web site you might find useful.

Question:
We heard the position of assessor was eliminated in a general law village. Is this true?

Answer:
Yes, the 1998 revision of the GLV Act eliminated the tax assessor position. The duties previously assigned to the assessor were transferred to the treasurer. However, MCL 62.2 gives the village council the authority to create the position of tax assessor (or any other office) by ordinance or resolution and prescribe the powers and duties of the office.

Question:
The president and several members of the council of our general law village are at odds over a particular issue. If three council members call a special meeting, does the president have to attend and conduct the meeting? What happens if the president refuses to conduct the meeting, or walks out during the middle of it?

Answer:
There are no special requirements for attendance at special meetings for either the president or any trustee. The General Law Village Act (MCL 64.4) does state that in the absence or disability of the president, the president pro tempore of the council shall perform the duties of the president. So, if the president does not attend or walks out of the meeting, the president pro tempore presides.

Question:
We have a vacancy on the council of our general law village. Do we have to have a special election because it is almost two full years until our next election?

Answer:
The General Law Village Act (1895 PA 3, MCL 62.13) states that “Any vacancy occurring in the office of president, trustee or any other elective office shall be filled by appointment by the council, and the appointee shall hold office until the next regular village election.” According to the Bureau of Elections, you will need to list this position on the ballot at the next election for a special two-year term if it would not have been on the ballot anyway.

Question:
With summer vacations coming up, I need to make certain I understand the number of votes required to conduct business in our general law village.

Answer:
MCL 62.1 of the General Law Village Act (1895 PA 3) requires that “In all votes for which not less than a majority vote of council is required, the calculation of the number of votes required shall be based on the maximum number that constitutes council.” Therefore, if there are seven trustees on your council, four affirmative votes are required to pass a motion requiring a simple majority and five affirmative votes are required to pass items calling for a 2/3 majority. Three members cannot pass a motion even though they are a majority of those present and voting. If your village has reduced the number on council to five, a simple majority is three and a 2/3 majority is four. MCL 61.1a(f) defines quorum as four if the council has seven members and three if your village has reduced the number of council members to five.

Question:
The compensation ordinance for our general law village allows the council to adjust the compensation for trustees by resolution. Are there publication requirements for a resolution?

Answer:
No.

Question:
Can a president of a general law village make a motion?

Answer:
The president is a full voting member of council and is not prohibited from making a motion. However, he/she should be prudent about doing so and only if allowed by locally adopted council rules. Many require the president to pass the gavel to the president pro tempore before doing so.

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