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AGO 1955 No. 134 - September 07, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


General obligation bonds in aid of bridge outside county may be issued only if bridge wholly within a contiguous county.

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                                                               September 7, 1955

Honorable Lincoln E. Shropshire
Representative 14th District
606 Miller Building
Yakima, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 134

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on the following question:

            Would it be legal for Yakima County to issue general obligation bonds for the purpose of contributing to the construction of a bridge across the Columbia River on State Highway 11A, one end of which would be in Benton County and the other in Grant County?

            Our answer is in the negative.


            The 1955 legislature passed two laws which bear upon your question.  Section 1, chapter 166, Laws of 1955, amending RCW 47.56.250, provides in part that

            "A city,county, or other political subdivision, or countiescontiguous to a county or counties where a proposed toll bridge shall be erected, directly or indirectly benefited thereby, may, either jointly or separately, at the request  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] of the Washington state highway commission or the authority advance or contribute money, or bonds, rights of way, labor, materials, and other property toward the expense of building a toll bridge, and for preliminary surveys and the preparation of plans and estimates of cost therefor and other preliminary expenses.  Appropriations for such purposes may be made from any funds available, including county road funds received from or credited by the state, or funds obtained by the issuance of general obligation bonds for this purpose.  General obligation bonds issued by a city, county, or political subdivision may with the consent of the state highway commission or the authority be placed with the Washington toll bridge authority to be sold by the authority to provide funds for such purpose.  Money, or bonds or property so advanced or contributed may be immediately transferred or delivered to the authority to be used for the purpose for which contribution was made.  The authority may enter into an agreement with a city, county, or other political subdivision to repay any money, or bonds or the value of a right of way, labor, materials, or other property so advanced or contributed: * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            The clear implication from this language is that a county may issue general obligation bonds for contribution to the construction of a toll bridge in contiguous counties, if the issuing county will be benefited directly or indirectly by the bridge.

            Section 1, chapter 194, Laws of 1955, deals specifically with the power of a county to issue general obligation bonds in aid of the construction of a toll bridge, as follows:

            "The board of a county may, by majority vote, and by submission to the voters under the same procedure required in RCW 36.76.090 and 36.76.100, issue general obligation bonds for the purpose of contributing money, or  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] the bonds themselves, to the Washington toll bridge authority to help finance the construction of toll bridges across topographical formations constituting boundaries between the county and an adjoining county, or a toll bridge across topographical formation located wholly within an adjoining county, which in the discretion of the board, directly or indirectly benefits the county.  Such bonds may be transferred to the Washington toll bridge authority to be sold by the authority for the purposes outlined herein:  Provided, That in no event shall bonds be issued in excess of the limitations in chapter 36.67 RCW."  (Single emphasis supplied)

            PP Chapter 166, Laws of 1955, was signed by the Governor and became law on March 15, 1955; chapter 194 was signed and became law on March 16, 1955.  Both bore an emergency clause.  Regarding the power to issue bonds chapter 166 is general; chapter 194 is specific, and deals only with counties.  As applied to counties they are inconsistent.  Under chapter 166 bonds apparently could be issued in aid of a bridge constructed between two other contiguous counties.  Under chapter 194 such bonds could be issued in aid of a bridge which did not enter the issuing county only if it lay wholly within a single adjoining county.

            The rules are stated in 82 C.J.S. 835, Statutes, section 367b, that:

            "* * * Where statutes passed at the same session are necessarily inconsistent, the question of which shall take effect depends on the intent of the legislature.  Ordinarily a statute which deals with the common subject matter in a minute and particular way will prevail over one of a more general nature; and a legislative intent clearly expressed in a special act will prevail over any implication which can be gathered from a general statute, where both were approved contemporaneously.

            "It is a general rule that where statutes passed at the same session are irreconcilably inconsistent the latest in point of time will prevail; * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            These rules are applicable in this state.  SeeState ex rel. Oregon R. & N. Co. v. Clausen, 63 Wash. 535.  It follows that chapter 194 is controlling with respect to the right of a county to issue bonds for the purpose in question.

            Since chapter 194 authorizes the issuance of bonds in aid of a bridge outside the county only when it lies wholly within a contiguous county, we conclude that Yakima County may not issue bonds for contribution to the cost of a bridge between Grant and Benton counties.

            We hope the foregoing analysis will prove helpful to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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