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AGO 1954 No. 255 - May 07, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

EXCHANGE OF MUNICIPAL PUBLIC UTILITY PROPERTIES BETWEEN TWO CITIES.

Under the provisions of RCW 39.33.010 two municipalities may exchange their public utility properties without the necessity of an election.

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                                                                    May 7, 1954

Honorable R. C. Brigham Young
State Representative
604 Madison Street
South Cle Elum, Washington                                                                                       Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 255

Dear Sir:

            On April 8, 1954, you requested our opinion on a proposed transfer of properties between the cities of South Cle Elum and Cle Elum.  Your correspondence to this office stated that the town of South Cle Elum owns and operates an electrical distribution system a portion of which serves the city of Cle Elum; that the city of Cle Elum owns and operates a water system which serves the town of South Cle Elum.  You also informed us by this letter that these cities desired to exchange the utilities which each owns and operates within the corporate limits of the other town according to a plan which has yet to be worked out and adopted.  Your specific question was whether the two municipalities could make this exchange without submitting the proposal to the voters of these towns.

            It is our conclusion that under the provisions of RCW 39.33.010 1953 Supp., such an exchange may be made without the necessity of an election.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            We believe the answer to your question is to be found in RCW 39.33.010 1953 Supp., providing:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "Sale, exchange, transfer, lease of public property authorized.  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the state or any municipality or any political subdivision thereof, may sell, transfer, exchange, lease or otherwise dispose of any property, real or personal, or property rights, including but not limited to the title to real property, to the state or any municipality or any political subdivision thereof on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon by the proper authorities of the state and/or the subdivisions concerned:  Provided, That such property is determined by decree of the superior court in the county where such property is located, after publication of notice of hearing is given as fixed and directed by such court, to be either necessary, or surplus or excess to the future foreseeable needs of the state or of such municipality or any political subdivision thereof concerned, which requests authority to transfer such property."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Apparently some confusion has arisen as to whether the procedure authorized by RCW 39.33.010 1953 Supp. would be applicable in view of the provisions of chapter 83.40 RCW which also appears to cover the situation you describe.  Chapter 83.40 RCW was enacted in 1917 and provided specifically for the lease or sale of a city's public utilities after an ordinance was submitted to and passed by a majority of the voters of the city involved.  While the 1917 act would still govern the sale of a municipal utility to a private person or corporation, we believe that the later act, RCW 39.33.010 1953 Supp., can be used in the exchange of properties between Cle Elum and South Cle Elum upon the entry of the proper decree in the superior court.  It would seem that the legislative intent to offer a simple procedure for the exchange of such properties is shown by the wording of the first sentence of RCW 39.33.010 1953 Supp. which reads in part:

            "Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the state or any municipality or any political subdivision thereof, may sell, transfer, exchange * * * any property, * * *"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            For these reasons we believe the provisions of RCW 39.33.010 1953 Supp. may be followed in order to accomplish the exchange of utility property between Cle Elum and South Cle Elum.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

QUINBY R. BINGHAM
Assistant Attorney General

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