SALE OF TIMBER FROM TAX TITLE LAND.
Timber on land acquired by the county by foreclosure of delinquent taxes may be sold apart from the land upon which it stands, on a stumpage basis.
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March 25, 1952
Honorable Don G. Abel
Grays Harbor County
Aberdeen, Washington Cite as: AGO 51-53 No. 267
We state the question contained in your letters of March 5th and March 12th as follows:
May timber on land acquired by the county by foreclosure of delinquent taxes be sold apart from the land on a stumpage basis?
You are advised:
That timber on land acquired by the county by foreclosure of delinquent taxes may be sold apart from the land upon which it stands, on a stumpage basis.
On July 22, 1945, we confirmed an opinion of the Honorable John Hancock, Prosecuting Attorney of Okanogan County, that the county could sell timber from tax title property under the provisions of chapter 19, Laws of 1943, amended by section 3, chapter 172, Laws of 1945 (section 4007 Rem. Supp. 1945), for cash.
On May 31, 1944, we advised the Honorable Donn F. Lawwill, Prosecuting Attorney of Grays Harbor County, that county commissioners could sell cascara bark on tax title property on a stumpage basis under chapter 19, Laws of 1943, [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] if the contract were so framed as to provide a license for the severance of the cascara bark and the passage of title to the personal property obtained by this severance when payment for the personal property so severed was made at the stumpage rate.
Section 1, chapter 68, Laws of 1937, providing for the sale of real property acquired by the county for taxes to which you refer was amended by section 1, chapter 172, Laws of 1945 (section 11294, Rem. Supp. 1945), so as to authorize the board of county commissioners to reserve timber from land being sold, and by order entered in its records, direct the sale of timber apart from the land "* * * such sale to be conducted in the manner hereinabove prescribed for the sale of the land: * * *"
It is possible to arrange a contract for the conversion of timber into logs so that it may be sold apart from the land, (seeElmonte Investment Company v. Schafer Bros. Logging Company, 192 Wash. 1, 72 P. (2d) 311), so that the sale of the timber could be made as a sale of personal property and not real property.
Manifestly, if the timber is to be sold as personal property, the bidder would not have the option of accepting a real estate contract as provided in section 1, chapter 172, Laws of 1945, and the language which we have quoted from that section is construed as directory, requiring the board, if they desire to sell timber separate from the land, to sell the same as personal property, conducting the sale as nearly as possible in the manner that sales of real estate are conducted, while at the same time discharging their duties as trustees by securing the best possible price for the personal property which would permit the execution of a contract with proper provisions and safeguards requiring payment on a stumpage basis.
Very truly yours,
E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General