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AGO 1953 No. 83 - July 10, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- FIRST CLASS ‑- AUTHORITY OF DIRECTORS TO SELL PROPERTY TO STATE FOR HIGHWAY PURPOSES WHERE VALUE EXCEEDS $20,000.00 ‑- NECESSITY FOR VOTE OF ELECTORS

Where property of a first class school district is required for state highway purposes, the directors of the district may mutually agree with the state as to the selling price and may proceed to make the sale on that basis without submitting the question of the sale to the voters of the district even though the value of the property exceeds $20,000.00.

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                                                                    July 10, 1953

Honorable Hugh H. Evans
Prosecuting Attorney Spokane County
Spokane County Courthouse
Spokane, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 83

Attention:  !ttMr. Willard J. Sharpe,
            Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Sir:

            By letter of June 8, 1953, you state that school property having a value exceeding $20,000.00, owned by a first class school district, is required for state highway purposes.  You request our opinion as to whether or not the directors of the school district may sell the property to the state without first submitting the question of such sale to the electors of the district, in the event a selling price is mutually agreed upon by the directors and the state highway department.

            It is our conclusion that your inquiry should be answered in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 28.62.190 (as derived from Laws of 1909, page 296, section 18) relates to the disposition of school property of first class districts which is no longer needed for school purposes.  The board of directors is authorized to sell  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] such property if the value thereof is less than $2,000.00 without submitting the question to the voters of the district.  If the value exceeds $2,000.00, the question of selling the property must be submitted to the voters.

            Chapter 225, Laws of 1953, gives all school districts authority to sell school property no longer needed for school purposes.  It also authorizes the sale of property which has been acquired by a school district and to which houses formerly situated on school sites have been affixed.  If the value of the property exceeds $20,000.00, the sale must be approved by the voters.  Otherwise, the board of directors is authorized to make the sale without such approval.  The sale in each case must be for cash.

            The 1953 act repeals RCW 28.62.190, and other sections of RCW specifically set out "to the extent that the same are inconsistent with the provisions of" chapter 225, Laws of 1953.  Insofar as RCW 28.62.190 is concerned, the 1953 act increases the $2,000.00 value limitation to $20,000.00 and requires that the sale shall be for cash.  Neither RCW 28.62.190 nor chapter 225, Laws of 1953 cover the situation involved where school property is required for highway purposes.  In such a case, the district is faced with an involuntary sale through condemnation proceedings.  RCW 47.12.040, as derived from chapter 266, Laws of 1943, on the other hand, makes specific provision for this exact situation.  The title to chapter 266, Laws of 1943, reads in part as follows:

            "An Act relating to highways, authorizing counties and other political subdivisions or municipal corporations of the state to convey land necessary for state highway purposes to the state, * * *"

            The pertinent provisions of the 1943 act as now codified in RCW 47.12.040 are:

            "Acquisition of property from a political subdivision.  Whenever land owned by a county or other political or municipal subdivision of the state, which is not being used as a public highway, is needed for state highway purposes, the county or subdivision may give, sell, or lease it or any interest therein, to the state, without notice to the public or competitive bids, for such consideration as the governing body of the county or subdivision deems for its best interest.  Such governing body may execute and deliver to the state a deed or other proper instrument necessary to convey the title to the land or interest therein to the state.  * * *"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]   The provisions of this section contain no value limitation.  Since school districts are municipal corporations (State ex rel. Griffiths v. Superior Court, 177 Wash. 619, 622) RCW 47.12.040 is applicable to all school districts.  In our opinion, this section is a special enactment applicable to all cases where school property is required for state highway purposes.  Since the state would have the power to condemn (RCW 47.12.010; 18 Am.Jur., page 68 of 1952 Supp., Eminent Domain, section 83), nothing would be gained by submitting to the voters of the district the question of whether the sale should or should not be made.  It was the legislative intent, in cases of such involuntary sales, that the board of directors of the district should have power to establish the sale price by mutual agreement with the state.  To this extent the 1943 act (RCW 47.12.040) was supplemental to the 1909 act (RCW 28.62.190), and retains its supplemental character as to chapter 225, Laws of 1953.  It is to be noted that the 1953 act does not purport to repeal any portion of RCW 47.12.040.

            It is, therefore, our opinion that where property of a first class school district is required for state highway purposes, the directors of the district may mutually agree with the state as to the selling price, and may proceed to make the sale on that basis without submitting the question of the sale to the voters of the district even though the value of the property exceeds $20,000.00.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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