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AGO 1955 No. 107 - June 28, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

FIRE DISTRICTS ‑- SURPLUS FUNDS ‑- SAVINGS & LOAN ASSNS

County fire districts are not authorized to invest surplus funds in savings and loan associations by RCW 33.04.100.

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                                                                   June 28, 1955

Honorable Arnold R. Zempel
Prosecuting Attorney
Snohomish County
Everett, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 107

Attention:  !ttMr. John N. Leavitt
            Deputy

Dear Sir:

            You have asked for an opinion on a question which may be paraphrased as follows:

            Can a county fire district invest surplus funds in a savings and loan association until such funds are required for the capital needs of the district?

            It is our opinion that a county fire district cannot by virtue of RCW 33.04.100 invest surplus funds in a savings and loan association.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 33.04.100 provides as follows:

            "Any funds of the state, the counties, cities, towns, municipal corporations, taxing districts, political subdivisions, and political entities of every kind, or any funds held in trust by or under the management of any such entity,which are available for investment, may be invested in savings and loan associations organized under either federal or state law, which are doing business in this state: Provided, That the investment  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] of any one fund in any one savings and loan association shall not exceed the amount which is insured by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation.  This section shall not apply to the permanent school fund."  (Emphasis supplied)

            The answer to your question turns upon the interpretation to be given the phrase "which are available for investment".  It is our opinion that the phrase should be construed to mean "legally available for investment"; and, therefore RCW 33.03.100 does not enlarge the fields in which surplus funds of a fire district may be invested.  Included in the definition "available" contained in Webster's New International Dictionary is the following:  "2. Law.  Valid; as an available plea."  This definition, which is more restrictive than the general definition of "available," appears to be in accord with our opinion on the statutory language as expressed above.  We also feel that this construction is indicated by the rule that amendments by implication are generally not favored.

            We feel that the provision of RCW 33.04.100 that, "This section shall not apply to the permanent school fund.", does not mean that funds other than the permanent school fund may be invested in a savings and loan association, but rather that this statutory provision is intended merely to reiterate the restriction on the investment of permanent school funds contained in Amendment 1, Washington Constitution.

            We feel that our opinions of January 14, 1943 [[to State Finance Committee]], and May 29, 1929 [[to George E. Clark, Prosecuting Attorney, Yakima County]], copies of which are enclosed, and no new laws or cases being found which modify them, are applicable to fire districts, particularly in view of RCW 52.16.010 designating the county treasurer financial agent of the district, and under section 1, chapter 134, Laws of 1955 (RCW 52.16.020) relating to district funds.

            We, therefore, conclude that RCW 33.04.100 does not authorize the investment of surplus funds of a fire district in a savings and loan association.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

EDWARD E. LEVEL
Assistant Attorney General

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