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AGO 1953 No. 90 - July 14, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTY PROPERTY ‑- DISPOSITION ‑- REQUIREMENT OF COURT ORDER DECLARING SURPLUS --TAXATION ‑- SALE OF TAX FORECLOSED PROPERTY

1. Chapter 133, Laws of 1953, does not apply to the sale of tax title property.

2. Chapter 133, Laws of 1953, modifies RCW 36.34.130 to the extent that it requires the court order declaring county property to be surplus or excess to the future foreseeable needs of the county in cases of sales to other governmental agencies by private negotiations.

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                                                                    July 14, 1953

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
County City Building
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 90

Attention:  !ttMr. K. G. Smiles
            Chief Civil Deputy

Dear Sir:

            In reply to your letter of July 3, 1953, we consider it advisable to set forth our answers in a formal opinion, notwithstanding the fact that there has been some previous correspondence on the subject.  The question is one of wide interest and should have the benefit of general circulation.

            You request our opinion upon the applicability of chapter 133, Laws of 1953 to:

            (1) The sale of tax title property as authorized by RCW 84.64.320.

            (2) The sale of county property to other governmental agencies under the provisions of RCW 36.34.130.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Our conclusions are as follows:

            (1) Chapter 133, Laws of 1953, does not apply to the sale of tax title property.

            (2) Chapter 133, Laws of 1953, modifies RCW 36.34.130 to the extent that it requires the court order declaring county property to be surplus or excess to the future foreseeable needs of the county in cases of sales to other governmental agencies by private negotiations.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 133, Laws of 1953, provides that the state or any political subdivision may sell or otherwise dispose of real or personal property to the state 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."

            RCW 84.64.320 provides for the disposition of tax title property to any governmental agency for public purposes by private negotiation without a call for bids for not less than the amount of unpaid taxes.

            The tax title property referred to in the statute last mentioned is that property which was not disposed of at the time of the original tax foreclosure sale and which was acquired by the county in lieu of the delinquent taxes.  This property is not generally considered county property in the usual sense for the reason that the county is, in effect, holding the property as trustee for the taxing agency.

            RCW 84.64.320 was a special statute narrowly applicable to a specific class of property.  It was designed to implement the chapter on tax foreclosure and did not cover the disposition of county property generally.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The other class of property sometimes referred to as "tax title" property, is property of the private owners which has been subjected to a tax foreclosure sale and sold to another private purchaser at the original foreclosure sale.  This is not in any sense county property and that type of sale is not covered either by RCW 84.64.320 or chapter 133, Laws of 1953.

            The 1953 act is a general statute upon a different subject matter and there is no evidence of any legislative intent to repeal or amend RCW 84.64.320.

            In our opinion, chapter 133, Laws of 1953, is not applicable to sales of tax title property.

            RCW 36.34.130 provides:

            "The board of county commissioners may dispose of county property to another governmental agency and may acquire property for the county from another governmental agency by means of private negotiation upon such terms as may be agreed upon and for such consideration as may be deemed by the board of county commissioners to be adequate."

            It should be noted that the above‑quoted statute provides for bothacquisition anddisposition of county property, while the 1953 act is applicable only to the disposition of county property except where new property is acquired in exchange for other county property.  The 1953 act is much broader than the former since it pertains to the disposition of any property owned byany political subdivision of the state.  This would necessarily include county property and would, therefore, be broad enough to cover the same subject matter as RCW 36.34.130.

            The general rule is that all statutes upon the same subject matter should be construed together and all should be given effect wherever that is possible.  If both of these statutes are given effect, the additional proviso of chapter 133, Laws of 1953, must be read as supplementing the provisions of the earlier statute.  There is no indication of a legislative intent to exclude sales of county property from the effect of that proviso.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            In our opinion, chapter 133, Laws of 1953, modifies RCW 36.34.130 to the extent of adding a requirement of the court order declaring the property to be surplus or excess to the future foreseeable needs of the political subdivision concerned.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

RALPH M. DAVIS
Assistant Attorney General

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