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AGO 1952 No. 335 - June 30, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ‑- EXPENSES AS ROAD SUPERVISORS --PUBLIC OFFICERS ‑- COMPENSATION AND EXPENSES

County commissioners of sixth-class counties are entitled to necessary, reasonable traveling expenses as road supervisors in addition to compensation for their services as road supervisors which by chapter 9, Laws Ex. Sess. 1950, RCW 36.32.320, is limited to $1200.00.

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                                                                   June 30, 1952

Honorable R. A. Hensel
Prosecuting Attorney
Douglas County
Waterville, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 335

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of June 17th you asked a question which we answer affirmatively as follows:

            County commissioners of sixth-class counties are entitled to necessary, reasonable traveling expenses as road supervisors in addition to compensation for their services as road supervisors, which by chapter 9, Laws Ex. Sess. 1950, RCW 36.32.320, is limited to $1200.00.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1 of chapter 274, Laws of 1927, § 4053-1 Rem. Rev. Stat., made it the duty of certain county commissioners to oversee construction and maintenance of county roads and bridges, provided compensation for such additional work, and "Provided, further, that in counties of classes 6B, 7, 8 and 9 each of such commissioners shall not receive more than $500.00 per annum."

            Since the quoted language limited the amount of money which commissioners were to receive, we were forced to construe the word "compensation" as including traveling expenses in addition to salary, contrary to the general rule.  Ops. Atty. Gen. 1929-30, page 41.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Because the legislature had specifically limited the amount of money to which such commissioners would be entitled for their services as overseers, we were forced to adhere to this opinion, notwithstanding the fact that the legislature later provided that all county officers should be entitled to their necessary, reasonable traveling expenses in the performance of their official duties.  Section 1, chapter 87, Laws of 1945, § 4200-5a Rem. Supp. 1945, and § 1, chapter 200, Laws of 1949, § 4200-5a Rem. Supp. 1949.

            In amending chapter 274, Laws of 1927, by chapter 9, Laws Ex. Sess. 1950, RCW 36.32.320, the legislature omitted the limitation of the amount of money which we have quoted above and specifically placed the limitation of $1200.00 upon the money which the commissioners were to receive as compensation (we underline the word "as" because the legislature supplied this word in the amending act to the first proviso in the amended act indicating that the limit of $1200.00 was placed on the compensation to be received rather than on the total amount of money to be received by the commissioners.)

            The general rule that the compensation which was by chapter 9, Laws Ex. Sess. 1950, RCW 36.32.320, limited to $1200.00 does not include necessary, reasonable traveling expenses must be applied in construing that act, which went into effect as of midnight July 24, 1950.

            The allowance of traveling expenses to county commissioners in connection with their duties as overseers or supervisors is not increased compensation within the section of the constitution prohibiting such increases during the term of office of a public official.

                        State ex rel. Todd v. Yelle, 7 Wn. (2d) 443, 110 P. (2d) 162.

            You are therefore advised that all county commissioners of a sixth-class county are entitled to necessary, reasonable traveling expenses as road supervisors over and above the applicable maximum from midnight July 24, 1950.

            You will disregard our letter of June 19, 1951.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General

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