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AGO 1953 No. 134 - September 17, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


The county director of health may not legally transfer funds from one general class of his budget to another.

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                                                              September 17, 1953

Honorable Tom A. Durham
Prosecuting Attorney
Whatcom County
Court House, 311 Grand Avenue
Bellingham, Washington

                                                                                                            Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 134

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your letter of September 1, 1953, asking our advice regarding a proposed transfer of funds in the county health budget.  The county director of health seeks to transfer funds from the maintenance and operations class to the salaries and wages class within the county health department's budget.

            Our conclusion may be stated as follows: The county director of health may not legally transfer funds from one general class to another within his budget.


            RCW 36.40.100 provides in part:

            "* * * the county commissioners and every other county official shall be limited in the making of expenditures or the incurring of liabilities to the amount of such detailed appropriation items or classes respectively:  * * *Provided further, * * * Transfers between the general classes provided for in this chapter shall not be permitted, * * *"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Our attention has been directed to an attorney general's opinion dated December 30, 1948, holding that the section above quoted is not applicable to the budgets of county health districts organized under chapter 70.46 RCW.  That opinion also held that the state auditor, acting through the division of municipal corporations, could adopt and require uniform systems of accounting by such districts, including conditions similar to that quoted above relative to classifications within budgets.  That opinion was based upon the proposition that no such requirement existed at that time.  Consequently, there were no restrictions upon transfers between classes within the budget.

            By letter dated August 13, 1953, directed to Dr. Kahl, Acting Director of the State Department of Health, the state auditor, through the division of municipal corporations, established a rule requiring a uniform system of accounting for district boards of health.  One of the requirements was that the classification provision as set forth in RCW 36.40.100 be complied with.  Since the basis of the prior opinion no longer exists, the opinion itself is no longer the rule.

            You are advised that, under the recent ruling from the auditor's office, transfers between general budget, classifications may not be effected by health district boards.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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