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AGO 1956 No. 265 - May 08, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

HOSPITALS, ANNEXATION BY EXISTING HOSPITAL DISTRICT LOCATED IN ONE COUNTY OF CONTIGUOUS TERRITORY LOCATED IN A NEIGHBORING COUNTY.

Petitions for the annexation of contiguous territory by an existing hospital district should be submitted to the commissioners of the district.  A majority of the votes cast in the territory proposed to be annexed as well as a majority of the votes cast in the annexing district must be in favor of the annexation in order to carry the proposal.

The board of county commissioners of the county containing the territory proposed to be annexed takes no part in the annexation procedure.

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                                                                    May 8, 1956 

Honorable Robert A. Hensel
Prosecuting Attorney
Douglas County
Waterville, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 265

 Dear Sir:

             You have requested an opinion from this office upon several questions regarding the annexation by an existing public hospital district located in one county of contiguous territory located in another county.  You relate in your letter that the Brewster Hospital District located in Okanogan county desires to annex certain contiguous territory in Douglas county.  Your question may be paraphrased as follows:

             1. Under the provisions of RCW 70.44.200 (1955 Supp.) and chapter 35.12 RCW, to what governing body is the petition for annexation submitted?

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            2. After the petition is filed, what vote is necessary to carry the annexation proposal?

             3. Does the board of county commissioners of the county containing the territory proposed to be annexed have anything to say regarding such annexation by a hospital district lying in a neighboring county?

             The answer to your questions appear in the analysis below.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             1. RCW 70.44.200 (1955 Supp.) provides:

             "A hospital district may annex territory outside the existing boundaries of such district and contiguous thereto, whether the territory therein lies in one or more counties, under the procedure applicable to annexation of unincorporated areas as provided in chapter 35.12."

             RCW 35.12.010 provides:

             "Upon the filing of a petition to add to a city or town contiguous territory previously unincorporated or contiguous territory containing not over two thousand inhabitants which is the whole of or part of another city or town, signed by qualified voters of the city or town equal in number to not less than one‑fifth of the number of votes cast at the last municipal election, the council thereof shall submit the question of annexation to the voters in the city or town and also to the voters in the territory proposed to be annexed by a special election called for that purpose."

             Section 9, page 136, Laws of 1890, upon which the above section is apparently based, reads in part as follows:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "* * * The council or other legislative body of such corporation shall, upon receiving a petition therefor, signed by not less than one‑fifth of the qualified electors thereof, as shown by the votes cast at the last municipal election held therein, submit to the electors of such corporation, and to the electors residing in the territory proposed by such petition to be annexed to such corporation, the question whether such territory shall be annexed to such corporation and become a part thereof.  * * * "

             Addressing ourselves to the problem of interpreting RCW 35.12.010 and the session law upon which it is based in terms of an annexation of contiguous area by an existing public hospital district, we believe that the equivalent of the term "city or town" must be regarded as the existing hospital district, the equivalent of the term "council" must be regarded as the commissioners of the hospital district, and the equivalent of the terms "contiguous territory previously unincorporated" must be regarded as the territory proposed to be annexed.  Thus, pursuant to RCW 70.44.200 (1955 Supp.) and RCW 35.12.010, a petition "signed by qualified voters" of the existing hospital district "equal in number to not less than one‑fifth of the number of votes cast at the last" hospital district election shall be submitted to the hospital district commissioners.

             The petition would not be submitted to the board of county commissioners of the county containing the existing hospital district nor would it be presented to the board of county commissioners of the county containing the contiguous territory proposed to be annexed.  It appears also that voters residing in the territory proposed to be annexed take no part in the petition phase of the annexation procedure.

             2. RCW 35.12.030 provides:

            "On the Monday next succeeding a special election called among the voters of a city or town and those of the contiguous territory  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] proposed to be annexed thereto, the city or town council shall proceed to canvass the returns thereof.  The votes cast in the territory proposed to be annexed shall be canvassed separately, and if a majority of the votes cast in that territory and also a majority of the votes cast within the city or town favor annexation, the council by an order entered on its minutes shall cause its clerk to make and transmit to the secretary of state a certified abstract of the vote.  The abstract shall show the whole number of electors voting in the territory proposed to be annexed, the whole number of electors voting in the city or town, the number of votes cast in each for annexation and the number of votes cast in each against annexation."  (Emphasis supplied.)

             This provision makes it clear that both a majority of the voters in the existing hospital district and a majority of the voters in the contiguous territory proposed to be annexed would have to vote in favor of the annexation for the proposition to be successful.  It is no doubt for this reason the statute requires that "the votes cast in the territory proposed to be annexed shall be canvassed separately."  Such a provision insures that the voters in the territory proposed to be annexed would have an opportunity to defeat the annexation regardless of the vote within the existing hospital district.

             3. It appears from the applicable statutory provisions that no function is assigned to the board of county commissioners of the county containing the area proposed to be annexed by an existing hospital district located in a neighboring county.  It must, therefore, be concluded that such county commissioners would not have anything to say regarding the proposed annexation.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            We hope the foregoing analysis may prove helpful to you.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

J. CALVIN SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General

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