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AGO 1954 No. 236 - April 09, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

WELFARE COORDINATOR ‑- SALARY ‑- PAID BY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE OR DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL DEFENSE.

Payment of the salary of the welfare coordinator from funds available to the Department of Public Assistance is permissible in view of the provisions of the Washington State Civil Defense Act of 1951 and the Public Assistance Laws of the State of Washington.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                    April 9, 1954

Honorable George M. Hollenbeck
Acting Director
Department of Public Assistance
Public Lands-Social Security Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                             Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 236

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion regarding the following question:

            Is it permissible for the Department of Public Assistance to pay the salary of the welfare coordinator?

            We conclude that payment of the salary of the welfare coordinator from funds available to the Department of Public Assistance is permissible.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            You have stated that the position of welfare coordinator has been created pursuant to an action taken by the Director of the State Department of Civil Defense, designating the Department of Public Assistance and its Director as the appointed head of emergency welfare services in the State of Washington. You have further stated that proper discharge of the duties inherent in such a position requires the welfare coordinator to spend most of the working hours at present in the Department of Civil Defense, being further required, however,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] to attend State Department of Public Assistance meetings and spend whatever time is necessary to keep the Department of Public Assistance fully informed with regard to the civil defense program as it relates to the Department of Public Assistance.

            In view of the time spent by the welfare coordinator in the office of the Department of Civil Defense, the applicability of RCW 43.09.210 must be resolved.  Said provision, enacted by the legislature in 1909 as chapter 76, paragraph 3, of said year, provides in part as follows:

            "All service rendered by one department * * * to another, shall be paid for at its true and full value by the department * * * receiving the same, and no department, * * * shall benefit in any financial manner whatever by an appropriation or fund made for the support of another."

            In determining whether or not an affirmative answer to your question involves a violation of this statute, certain provisions of the Washington Civil Defense Act of 1951 and the public assistance laws of this state are pertinent.

            The State Department of Civil Defense was created pursuant to the provisions of chapter 178, Laws of 1951.  Section 2 of said statute declares the purposes of the civil defense act, including the necessity of creating a state civil defense agency and local organizations for civil defense in the political subdivisions of the state.  Said section also declares that the policy of the state is that all civil defense functions of this state and its political subdivisions be coordinated to the maximum extent with the comparable functions of the federal government, of other states and localities and private agencies to the end that the most effective preparation and use may be made of the nation's manpower, resources and facilities for dealing with any disaster which may occur.

            Section 3 of the act defines civil defense as meaning the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions other than functions for which the military forces are primarily responsible, including emergency welfare functions.

            Section 4 of the act provides for the appointment of a director of the Department of Civil Defense by the Governor, who shall be the head thereof with authority to employ technical, clerical and stenographic and other personnel and make expenditures within the appropriation therefor or from other funds made available to him for the purposes of civil defense as may be necessary to carry out  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] the provisions of the act.  Said section also provides for the director, subject to the direction and control of the Governor, to coordinate the activities of all organizations for civil defense within the state and maintain liaison with and cooperate with civil defense agencies and organizations of other states and the federal government.

            Section 13 of the act provides in full as follows:

            "In carrying out the provisions of this act, the governor and the executive heads of the political subdivisions of the state are directed to utilize the services, equipment, supplies, and facilities of existing departments, offices, and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof to the maximum extent practicable, and the officers and personnel of all such departments, offices, and agencies are directed to cooperate with and extend such services and facilities to the governor and to the civil defense organizations of the state upon request."

            Chapter 174, Laws of 1953, provides for a Department of Public Assistance to serve as the single state agency to administer public assistance.  Section 12 of said act provides as follows:

            "The care, support, and relief of needy persons is hereby declared to be a joint federal, state, and county function.  County offices are charged with the responsibility, for the administration of public assistance within the respective county or counties or parts thereof as local offices of the department as prescribed by the rules and regulations of the department."  (1953 c 174 § 12; 1939 c 216 § 5; RCW 74.04.040).

            Section 14 of chapter 174, Laws of 1953, requires the Department of Public Assistance to establish uniform statewide standards to govern the granting of assistance.  Section 18 thereof requires the Department of Public Assistance to make studies of basic requirement costs in arriving at the standards which govern the type and amount of assistance granted by the state.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            It therefore appears that the Department of Public Assistance has existing services and facilities available which would be of great aid to the state and the nation in protecting the public peace, health and safety and in preserving the lives and property of the people of the state in the event of an emergency or disaster.

            Bearing in mind the cited purposes of the Washington Civil Defense Act of 1951, the attainment of which turns on proper coordination and utilization of the facilities and services of many and varied governmental and private functions, it would appear that one or more employees from each organization involved would of necessity be required to maintain a close relationship with the civil defense organizations.  The obvious responsibility of such employees is to be fully aware of the function which their respective organizations must undertake in the event of emergency or disaster as contemplated by the Washington Civil Defense Act of 1951.  The service rendered by the welfare coordinator appointed by the Director of Public Assistance pursuant to designation of the department and the director as the head of emergency welfare services in the State of Washington, is in accord with the utilization of personnel and cooperation of a state department which is required by section 13 of the Washington Civil Defense Act of 1951 when requested by the Governor or the Director of the Department of Civil Defense as authorized by the Governor.

            The ultimate benefit to be derived from the services of the welfare coordinator as appointed by the Director of the Department of Public Assistance is to the class of persons stated by law to be the responsibility of the Department of Public Assistance rather than the Department of Civil Defense alone.

            Pertinent also to our conclusion is the stated fact that the position of welfare coordinator has been recognized by the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as a proper administrative function of the Department of Public Assistance, entitling said department to matching money on a salary expenditure for said position.

            In view of the provisions of the Washington Civil Defense Act of 1951, the broad scope of responsibility placed on the Department of Public Assistance by the various statutes bearing thereon, the ultimate benefit derived from the service of the welfare coordinator appointed by the Director of the Department of Public Assistance, and the recognition by the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare of the position as involving a function of the Department of Public Assistance, we are of the opinion that the payment of  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] the salary of the welfare coordinator by the Department of Public Assistance does not violate any of the provisions of RCW 74.09.210 (hereinbefore cited) and that payment of said salary by the Department of Public Assistance is permissible.

            We hope that the conclusions expressed will prove to be of assistance.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

MOKSHA W. SMITH
Assistant Attorney General

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