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AGO 1954 No. 374 - December 30, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

VETERANS' RELIEF ‑- PAYMENT OF VOUCHERS ‑- TIME LIMITATION APPROVAL BY WELFARE DEPARTMENT

1. The board of county commissioners may decline to approve vouchers under the Soldiers' and Sailors' relief fund for goods purchased or services rendered more than one year prior to the presentation of such vouchers.

2. The commissioners may not require that such vouchers be approved by the welfare department of the county before it considers them for approval.

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                                                               December 30, 1954

Honorable R. A. Hensel
Prosecuting Attorney
Douglas County
Waterville, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 374

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of November 29, 1954, requesting an interpretation of RCW 73.08, the Veterans' Relief Act.  More specifically, you request our opinion as follows:

            1. May the board of county commissioners decline to approve vouchers under the Soldiers' and Sailors' relief fund for goods purchased or services rendered more than one year prior to the presentation of such vouchers?  and

            2. May the board of county commissioners require that such vouchers be approved by the welfare department of the county before it considers them for approval?

            In our opinion the answers are:  1. "Yes" and 2. "No."

             Orig. Op. Page 2

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Since 1888 there has been in effect a law providing for relief of indigent veterans and their families.  This statute, codified as RCW 73.08 requires county commissioners to levy a tax to create a fund designated as the Soldiers' and Sailors' relief fund.

            Any local post, of a national organization of veterans which has been chartered by act of Congress, which desires to undertake the relief of indigent veterans and their families must comply with the statutory procedural formula in order to qualify.  It must file with the county auditor a notice of intention in October of each year together with a report of the post's relief activities in the previous year.  This notice must contain the names of the members of the relief committee.  In addition, the county commissioners may require that the appropriate officers of any post furnish a bond conditioned for the faithful and honest discharge of their duties.

            RCW 73.08.010 provides, in part, as follows:

            "* * * The orders of the commander and quartermaster, or commander and adjutant, shall be a proper voucher for the expenditure of such money."

            This office has previously ruled that the county commissioners are charged with the responsibility of supervising such payments.  We advise that before the auditor issues the warrant in payment of such vouchers, that the claim should be approved by the county commissioners.

            We do not believe that the legislature contemplated that this act should be a substitute for the public assistance laws of this state.  It simply provides machinery for furnishing relief of a temporary nature with a minimum of delay to persons who come within its purview.

            In the case of the voucher for goods and services furnished more than a year previous to its presentation, it is obvious that the post has not compiled with  Orig. Op. Page 3 the statutory requirement that the post file a complete report of its relief activities during the previous year.

            We believe the proposal that the board of county commissioners requires a report from a welfare worker as a condition precedent to approving a voucher for relief is precisely the type of thing the legislature sought to avoid.  The manifest purpose of having the vouchers signed by the officers of the local post, upon the recommendations of its relief committee, is to expedite the provision of relief in proper cases.  The purpose of having the county commissioners countersign each voucher is not to substitute the judgment of the commissioners for that of the relief committee on each individual application.  Rather, as we view it, it is to direct each post's relief program to the attention of the commissioners in order for them to be in a position to determine whether or not the surety bond provision should be imposed upon the officers of any post.

            It is the opinion of this office and we accordingly advise:

            (1) That the board of county commissioners may decline to approve vouchers under the Soldiers' and Sailors' relief fund for goods purchased or services rendered more than one year prior to the presentation of such vouchers, and

            (2) that the commissioners may not require that such vouchers be approved by the welfare department of the county before it considers them for approval.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


ANDY ENGEBRETSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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