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AGO 1955 No. 32 - February 24, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


 A claim against a county for services performed during the preceding year, filed within thirty days thereof, is properly payable out of the previous year's budget appropriation, although such payment may be made after that time.

The lapse provision for county budget appropriations in RCW 36.40.200 applies only to time for filing claims not to the time for payment.

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                                                                February 24, 1955

Honorable Robert S. Campbell, Jr.
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 32

 Dear Sir:

             In your letter of February 9, 1955, which we have previously acknowledged, you requested our opinion on the following question:

             "Can the Board of County Commissioners authorize payment of a claim against the fiscal year of 1954 if such claim was received prior to the 30th day of January, 1955, but not approved by the county commissioners until after the 30th day of January, 1955?"

             It is our opinion that the claim must be paid out of the budget appropriation for 1954.


             The applicable statute relating to the lapse of county budget appropriations is RCW 36.40.200.  That section provides as follows:

             "All appropriations shall lapse at the end of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] the fiscal year:  Provided, That the appropriation accounts shall remain open for a period of thirty days thereafter for the payment of claims incurred against such appropriations prior to the close of the fiscal year.

           "After such period has expired all appropriations shall become null and void and any claim presented thereafter against any such appropriation shall be provided for in the next ensuing budget; Provided, That this shall not prevent payments upon uncompleted improvements in progress at the close of the fiscal year."

             In a recent opinion of this office, dated May 29, 1952, AGO 51-53 No. 317, this problem was discussed in answer to a request by the prosecutor of Pacific county.  In that situation, the claim was presented on January 11, 1952, and remained unpaid on May 1, 1952.  This office held that the claim was properly presented and should be paid out of the budget appropriation for 1951.

             The opinion, citing a previous opinion of this office, stated as follows:

             "* * * In an opinion to the director of public health dated May 3, 1940, this office advised that a claim filed within the thirty day period for services performed during the preceding year was properly payable out of the preceding year's budget.  * * *"

             Therefore, in our opinion, a claim presented for payment before January 30th, of the ensuing year, should be paid out of the budget appropriation for the previous year, although actual payment may not have been made within the thirty day period specified by statute.  That time limitation applies to the filing of claims, not to their payment.  It is assumed, of course, that the expenditure is within the budget appropriations and otherwise properly payable.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General 

Assistant Attorney General

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