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AGO 1954 No. 250 - May 05, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


The board of county commissioners has no authority to make transfers from the airport fund to other county funds.

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                                                                    May 5, 1954

Mr. M. W. McQuillin
State Aeronautics Commissioner
District No. 2
c/o The Everett Daily Herald
Everett, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 250

Dear Mr. McQuillin:

            In your letter of April 12, 1954, previously acknowledged, you ask whether or not the county commissioners of Snohomish County have the power to make transfers from the Snohomish County Airport Fund to another county fund.

            It is our opinion that this question should be answered in the negative.


            It is our understanding that Paine Field is owned by Snohomish County.  This being the case, chapter 14.08 RCW of the Revised Code of Washington, entitled "Municipal Airports" would apply to Paine Field.  This act, which is known as the Revised Airports Act has been held to operate uniformly as to all airports acquired by any municipality in the state.  King County v. Port of Seattle, 37 Wn. (2d) 338.  The revised airports act contains provisions concerning disposition of airport revenue.  One such provision is RCW 14.08.110, which reads as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The revenues obtained from the ownership, control, and operation of any such airport or other air navigation facility shall be used, first, to finance the maintenance and operating expenses thereof, and, second, to make payments of interest on and current principal requirements of any outstanding bonds or certificates issued for the acquisition or improvement thereof, and to make payment of interest on any mortgage.  Revenues in excess of the foregoing requirements may be applied to finance the extension or improvement of the airport or other air navigation facilities."

            This section specifically states the purposes for which airport revenues may be used, and in no place mentions that funds may be transferred from the airport fund for other county purposes.

            In addition, RCW 14.08.320 provides that an airport fund may be created.  It reads as follows:

            "Municipalities operating airports may create a special airport fund, and provide that all receipts from the operation of their airports be deposited therein.  The fund shall remain intact from year to year and may be pledged to the payment of aviation bonds, or kept for future maintenance, construction, or operation of airports or airport facilities."

            Since Paine Field comes within the purview of the revised airports act the airport fund set up for Paine Field is subject to RCW 14.08.320.  This section provides that when an airport fund is created it must remain intact from year to year.  This language deprives the board of county commissioners of authority to make transfers from the airport fund to other county funds.

            Even though by resolution the board of county commissioners provided that it could make appropriations when duly approved, opinion of this office dated October 26, 1948 [[to Joseph P. Adams, Washington State Aeronautics Commission]], a copy of which is attached hereto for your convenience, October 26, 1948, a copy of which is attached hereto for your convenience, indicates that municipalities operating airports under the revised airports act shall be governed by the powers contained in said act rather than general regulatory statutes provided for the government of said municipalities.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            It is our conclusion that no transfers may be made from the airport fund which are not specifically provided for in the revised airports act.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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