Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1952 No. 339 - July 02, 1952
AGO Opinion Header Image
Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Cities and towns are authorized by chapter 60, Laws of 1941, RCW 35.21.070 and RCW 35.21.080 to establish one cumulative reserve fund for one specified municipality, but no limitation is imposed on the number of funds which may be established.

                                                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                     July 2, 1952

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 339

Attention:  Mr. A. E. Hankins

Dear Sir:

            The following matter is a reply to your request for a review of the Attorney General's opinion No. 51-53-308, under the date of May 13, 1952, and addressed to the Honorable Cliff Yelle, State Auditor.

            The question passed upon in the Attorney General's opinion No. 51-53-308 was as follows:

            "Does section 1, chapter 60, Laws of 1941 (RCW 35.21.070) contemplate that a cumulative reserve fund may be established in such broad terms as the following quotation from an ordinance appears to indicate:

            "'For the purchase or repair of city equipment, the construction or repair of city buildings, the establishment, widening and extending of streets,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] the construction of sewers, the acquisition of real property, and the matching of federal or state funds for such purposes, and for any other similar purpose.

            "'If the above ordinance falls within the intent of chapter 60, Laws of 1941, should not the city or town be required to budget for specific purposes prior to the expending of said funds?'"

            Our conclusion in AGO 51-53-308, was as follows:

            "The ordinance in question is not within the spirit and intent of RCW 35.21.070, as it expresses more then one 'purpose,' i.e., 'purpose', used in the sense of a single object, plan, aim, proposition or project, as distinguished from the plural, 'purposes', which contemplates more than one object, plan, aim, etc.  And, further, in the ordinance the 'purpose' must be 'specified', i.e., definite, in particular, precisely stated, and the opposite of 'general.'  The section of the ordinance which reads 'and for any other similar purpose,' is not specific."

            Our conclusions here may be summarized as follows:

            That cities and towns are authorized by chapter 60, Laws of 1941, RCW 35.21.070 and RCW 35.21.080, to establish one cumulative reserve fund for one specified municipal purpose, and that the act does not limit this authorization and as many cumulative reserve funds may be set up as the scope of municipal purposes and the tax levy may dictate.


            The cumulative reserve fund act for cities or towns is stated as follows: RCW 35.21.070 (§ 1, chapter 60, Laws of 1941)

            "Any city or town is hereby authorized to establish by ordinancea cumulative reserve fund for any municipal purpose, including that of buying anyspecified supplies, material or equipment, or the construction, alteration or repair of any public  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] building or work, or the making of any public improvement.  The ordinance shall designate the fund as 'cumulative reserve fund for ‑‑- naming purpose for which fund is to be accumulated and expended).'  The moneys in said fund may be allowed to accumulate from year to year until the legislative authority of the city or town shall determine to expend the moneys in the fund for thepurpose specified:  Provided, That any moneys in said fund shall never be expended for any otherpurpose than that specified, without an approving vote by a majority of the electors of the city or town at a general or special election voting on a proposal submitted to the electors to allow other specified uses to be made of said fund."  (Emphasis supplied)

            RCW 35.21.080 (§ 1, chapter 60, Laws of 1941) provides:

            "An item for said cumulative reserve fund may be included in the city or town's annual budget or estimate of amounts required to meet public expense for the ensuing year and a tax levy made within the limits and as authorized by law for said item; and said item and levy may be repeated from year to year until, in the judgment of the legislative body of the city or town, the amount required for thes pecified purpose has been raised or accumulated.  Any moneys in said fund at the end of the fiscal year shall not lapse, nor shall the same be a surplus available or which may be used for any other purpose than that specified, except as herein provided."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Our attention has been called to, and a great emphasis placed on the wording in the act,"for any municipal purpose", and that the term "any" means "several"; that the term"including" certain specified uses of the moneys in said fund, refers to the appropriating ordinances and shows clearly that the legislature had in mind many and not just one purpose for which the moneys were to accumulate and might be spent.

            In the phrase, "for any municipal purpose" the critical word is "any."  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] Webster says that any means:

            "1. One indifferently out of a number; one (or as pl., some) indiscriminately of whatever kind; specif.: a Indicating a person, thing, event, etc., as not a particular or determinate individual of the given category but whichever one chance may select; this, that, or the other; one or another;‑-* * * b Indicating a person, thing, etc., as one selected without restriction or limitation of choice, with the implication that every one is open to selection without exception; one, no matter what one; all, taken distributively; * * *

            "* * * c Indicating one person, thing, etc., taken with indifference to quality; one or some however excellent or poor * * * better than no plan.  * * *

            "3. Of an amount, quantity, number, time extent: a Great, unmeasured, or unlimited; up to whatever measure may be desired or needed; the whole; * * *"

            InU. S. v. St. Claire, 52 Fed. Supp. 795, 797, the action involved the Mann Act, which insofar as pertinent here states:

            "* * * Transporting in interstate * * * commerce * * *any woman or girl for the purposes of prostitution * * *."  (Emphasis supplied)

            One of the questions there was whether a separate offense was committed to each woman transported.  The court said:

            "* * * The word 'any' implies singularity in number or selectivity among a number.  * * * The statute now considered tends to protect 'each and every woman' from the unlawful transportation."

            In the case ofWinnebago County State Bank v. Hustel, 119 Iowa 115, 93 N.W. 70, the court had under consideration the word "any" when used in a note preceding the word "extension".  The court held that the use of "any" before "extension" indicates that any one of an indefinite number was intended.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            InCommonwealth v. One 1939 Cadillac Sedan, 45 Atl. 2d 406, 158 Pa. Super. 392, the court said:

            "* * * What meaning should be given to any vehicle?  A more comprehensive word than any could hardly be employed.  It means indiscriminate without limitation or restriction."

            InCatholic Order of Foresters v. State, 271 N.W. 670, 676, 67 N.D. 228, 109 A.L.R. 979, it was said:

            "* * * The word 'any' is a general word and may have a diversity of meanings, its meaning in any particular case depending largely upon the context and subject-matter of the statute or instrument in which it is used."

            Interpretations of the word "any" are many and various and we feel that further cataloging of the interpretations would serve no purpose but to make this opinion more lengthy.

            In regard to statutory construction, 50 Am. Jur., § 227, p. 210, states as follows:

            "The only mode in which the will of a legislature is spoken, is in the statute itself.  Hence, in the construction of statutes, it is the legislative intent manifested in the statute that is of importance, and such intent must be determined primarily from the language of the statute, which affords the best means of its exposition.  Indeed, it is the duty of the courts to give a statute the interpretation its language calls for, where this can reasonably be done, and the general rule is that no intent may be imputed to the legislature in the enactment of a law other than such as is supported by the face of the law itself.  The courts may not speculate as to the probable intent of the legislature apart from the words.  A statute is to be taken, construed, and applied in the form enacted, and so declared, announced, and expounded.  Popular demand as to the enforcement of a law adds nothing to, and detracts nothing from, the duty of the court to construe the law as it is.  As a  [[Orig. Op. Page 6]] reason for these rules, it has been declared that the legislature must be assumed or presumed to know the meaning of words, to have used the words of a statute advisedly, and to have expressed its intent by the use of the words found in the statute."

            At 50 Am.Jur., § 226, p. 209, it is also stated:

            "* * * There is also authority for the rule that uncertainty as to the meaning of a statute may arise from the fact that giving a literal interpretation to the words would lead to such unreasonable, unjust, impracticable, or absurd consequences as to compel a conviction that they could not have been intended by the legislature.  * * * "

            It is to be noted from the before‑mentioned definitions that the word "any" may be used either in its singular or plural sense, depending upon the particular context and subject matter.  The word "each" is often used as a synonym for "any" in its singular sense, and the word "every" may be used as a synonym for "any" in its plural sense.  The words "each" and "every" when substituted for "any" in a phrase of the act "any municipal purpose", would seem to be equally valid in that particular context.  However, when the word "every" is substituted as a plural synonym for "any", why is the word "purpose," after its first usage, used in its singular sense when the word "purposes" would be the proper and descriptive word?  If "any" is meant in its plural sense, why then is the word "purpose," in the phrase of the act "* * * cumulative reserve fund for ‑‑- (naming purpose * * *," used in its singular sense, if it were the legislative intent that many municipal purposes might be enacted in one ordinance, and make up one cumulative reserve fund?

            If the term "any" is used in its plural connotation, then, the word "including" followed by certainspecified purposes for which the fund could be utilized, would indicate that one fund could have several purposes.  However, if "any" is to be used in its singular sense, then the term "including" and that which follows, are to be utilized as examples for which cumulative reserve funds may be set up, i.e., one fund, one specified purpose.

            It is to be further pointed out that "specified" as it appears before the termsupplies applies equally to the further terms, "material or equipment, public building or work, or public improvement."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 7]]

            We therefore conclude that cities and towns are authorized by RCW 35.21.070 and RCW 35.21.080 (chapter 60, Laws of 1941), to establish one cumulative reserve fund, for one specified municipal purpose, and that the act does not limit this authorization and that as many cumulative reserve funds may be set up as the scope of municipal purposes and the tax levy may dictate.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo