February 20, 2019

What is an incompatible office?

The Kentucky Constitution and legislative enactments establish specific prohibitions against holding incompatible offices simultaneously.

As it relates to city offices and employment, Section 165 of the Kentucky Constitution contains two prohibitions:

1) No person may be an officer or employee of a city and at the same time be a state officer, deputy state officer or member of the General Assembly; and

2) No person may fill more than one municipal office at the same time, whether in the same or different cities.

KRS 61.080 reiterates the above constitutional prohibitions, but goes further in that KRS 61.080(3) prohibits a person from holding a city office and a county office at the same time. Additional incompatibilities are listed in KRS 61.080.

In addition to incompatibilities specifically listed in the Constitution and statutes, certain positions can also be incompatible at common law, if the duties of both positions cannot be performed at the same time with the necessary degree of impartiality and honesty.  For example,  a city council member should not also serve as a member of the planning commission, because the council has oversight of planning commission decisions.

The City Officials Legal Handbook discusses what constitutes an “office” in addition to other points of interest regarding the compatibility of offices.