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AGO 1950 No. 217 - February 09, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS -- COMPENSATION OF A SUPERVISOR EMPLOYED BY THEM

The statutory limitation contained in the proviso to chapter 200, Laws of 1949, is inapplicable to a supervisor directly employed by and under the supervision of the county commissioners.

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                                                                 February 9, 1950

Honorable Stanley Krause
Prosecuting Attorney
Grays Harbor County
Becker Building
Aberdeen, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 217

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of January 25, 1950, in which you ask the following question:

            Is a supervisor employed by the Board of County Commissioners subject to the limitation as to compensation contained in the proviso in section 1, chapter 200, Laws of 1949.

            The conclusion reached may be summarized as follows:

            The statutory limitation contained in the proviso in chapter 200, Laws of 1949, is inapplicable as to employees, deputies, or clerks directly employed by or under the supervision of the county commissioners, and therefore has no application to the supervisor in question.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Your letter reads in part:

            "Recently the County Commissioners of this county hired a Supervisor, at $400.00 per month, to handle all of the County road  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] equipment as contemplated by Sec. 4, Chapt. 156, Session Laws of 1949.  The State Examiner questioned the legality of paying more than $300.00 per month for this position.  Your attention is directed to the last proviso in Chapt. 200, Session Laws of 1949, which, in my opinion, changes the law with respect to salaries of employees of officers who are not specifically named, and that the action of the Commissioners is lawful."

            Chapter 200, Laws of 1949 [4200-5a Rem. Supp. 1949], is the section of the law which fixes the compensation of county elective officials.  The law was first passed as section 6, chapter 148, Laws of 1925 Ex. Sess.  The portion of the law under immediate consideration in the 1925 law reads:

            "In all cases where the duties of any office are greater than can be performed by the person elected to fill the same, said officer may employ, with the consent of the county commissioners, the necessary help, who shall receive such compensation as shall be fixed by the board of county commissioners."

            The 1925 law was amended in 1937, in 1945, and in 1949, although the above quoted language was retained in all the amendments.  The first amendment was section 3, chapter 197, Laws of 1937, which added a proviso to the above quoted language reading as follows:

            "* * *Provided, That no deputy or clerk employed shall receive larger compensation than provided for the officer employing him."

            The law was again amended by section 1, chapter 87, Laws of 1945, althoughall the above quoted language, both of the main subject and the proviso, was retained.

            The law was again amended by section 1, chapter 200, Laws of 1949, and in the 1949 amendment the language of the proviso was changed to read as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "* * *Provided, That no deputy or clerk employed in the office of any Auditor, Clerk, Treasurer, Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor, Coroner, or Superintendent of Schools shall receive larger compensation than provided for the officer employing him."

            When the legislature enacts an amendatory statute presumption exists that a change was intended:  Fisher Flouring Mills Company v. State, 135 Wash. Dec. 449; [[35 Wn.2d 482]]Longview Co. v. Lynn, 6 Wn. (2d) 507, 108 P. (2d) 365.

            The 1925 enactment contained no limitation upon the amount of compensation which might be paid the "necessary help."  The 1937 law, however, contained a limitation applicable to all "deputies and clerks," irrespective of which officer might employ such "deputies and clerks."  The 1945 law was identical with the 1937 law.  The 1949 law, however, made a marked change in the wording of the proviso.  It specifically enumerated all the elective county officials except county commissioners.  Since the 1949 law failed to name county commissioners, although specifically naming all other elective county officials, it reveals a legislative intent to exclude employees, deputies, and clerks of the county commissioners from the limitation.

            Since the "supervisor" you mention is employed by and will be directly under the authority of the county commissioners (see chapter 156, Laws of 1949), we hold that the limitation contained in the proviso is inapplicable as to him or his position.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

GEORGE DOWNER
Assistant Attorney General

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