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AGO 1952 No. 310 - May 20, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Counties may enter into exclusive contracts for the collection of garbage in unincorporated areas of the county which are not included within a sanitary district.

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                                                                   May 20, 1952

Honorable Thurman E. Ward
Prosecuting Attorney
Klickitat County
Goldendale, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 310

Dear Sir:

            On April 10, 1952, this office received a request from you for an opinion on the following:

            "The county commissioners are desirous of authorizing one person or firm to have the exclusive garbage collection rights in a certain unincorporated area of Klickitat County.

            "How should this privilege be granted?  The county will merely give the right and will have no financial interest in the collection as the customers will pay for the service direct to the collector.

            "Please advise as to the necessary steps the commissioners must take to grant this exclusive right."

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            Counties may enter into exclusive contracts for the collection of garbage in unincorporated areas of the county which are not included within a sanitary district.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]


            InState v. Lovelace, 118 Wash. 50, 203 Pac. 28, the city of Vancouver, pursuant to ordinance entered into a contract with one Sherman Drew for the exclusive right to collect and dispose of garbage within the city.  The validity of the ordinance was attacked.  In upholding its validity the supreme court stated, starting at page 53:

            "* * * By subdivision (a) of § 14, p. 655, of the act of 1915 (Rem. Code, § 7671-14; P.C. § 797), the city is given power 'to pass ordinances not in conflict with the constitution and laws of this state or of the United States.'  Subdivision (r) p. 658, Laws of 1915, reads as follows:

            "'To make all such ordinances, by-laws, rules, regulations and resolutions, not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the state of Washington, as may be deemed expedient to maintain the peace, good government and welfare of the corporation and its trade, commerce and manufactures, and to do and perform any and all other acts and things necessary or proper to carry out the provisions of this chapter, and to enact and enforce within the limits of such city all other local, police, sanitary and other regulations as do not conflict with general laws.'

            "In our opinion, one of the most important functions of a city is to provide for the health of its inhabitants, and it cannot be doubted but what the nonremoval of the matter defined in the ordinance would be a serious menace.  The right of a city to function in this manner seems to be generally recognized.  Article 11, § 11, of the constitution reads as follows:

            "'Any county, city, town, or township, may make and enforce within its limits all such local, police, sanitary, and other regulations as are not in conflict with general laws.'

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "* * *

            "* * * the ordinance in question simply provides the method by which the city proposes to take care of garbage and no right or privilege is granted by it.  The subject-matter in this case is disposed of by contract, and the city in so acting is merely providing an agency for the carrying into effect of one of its corporate functions."

            For other authority upholding the validity of city ordinances providing for the granting of exclusive contracts for garbage collection and disposal within the city, seeCornelius v. Seattle, 123 Wash. 550, 213 Pac. 17, andCity Sanitary Service Company v. Rausch, 10 Wn. (2d) 446, 117 P. (2d) 225.

            Section 1, chapter 61, Laws of 1947 (RCW 36.32.120) provides in part:

            "The several boards of county commissioners shall:

            "* * *

            "(7) Make and enforce, by appropriate resolutions or ordinances, all such police and sanitary regulations as are not in conflict with state law, and provide that any violation of such regulations, ordinances, or resolutions shall constitute a misdemeanor:Provided, That no such regulation shall be effective unless before its adoption, a public hearing has been held thereon by the board of county commissioners of which at least ten days' notice has been given.  The notice must set out a copy of the proposed regulations and the day, hour, and place of hearing.  The notice must be given by publication in the newspaper in which legal notices of the county are printed;"

            In view of the constitutional authority granted to counties by Article XI, section 11, of the Constitution quoted in the Lovelace case, supra, and the statutory authority granted to counties in RCW 36.32.120,supra, it is our opinion that counties have the authority to provide for the granting of an exclusive contract for the collection of garbage.  We feel that the reasoning  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] of the court in the Lovelace and Rausch cases,supra, wherein it was held that cities had the authority to grant exclusive contracts for the collection of garbage is equally applicable to counties.

            Such contract or contracts could include only unincorporated areas of a county not included within a sanitary district provided by RCW Title 55.  Such contracts also must be let on a competitive basis as provided for in RCW 36.32.250, and after the adoption of appropriate resolutions or ordinances providing for such contract or contracts as required by RCW 36.32.120,supra.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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