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AGO 1952 No. 312 - May 22, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

IRRIGATION DISTRICTS ‑- AUTHORITY TO ISSUE WARRANTS

Irrigation districts may issue coupon warrants, the proceeds of which are to be used in making the payments required by contracts between the United States and the irrigation districts, and such warrants will be valid general obligations of the issuing districts.

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                                                                   May 22, 1952

Honorable W. A. Galbraith
Director
Department of Conservation & Development
Transportation Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 312

Dear Sir:

            Answering the question contained in your letter of April 14, 1952, regarding the authority of irrigation districts on the Columbia Basin Project to issue warrants, you are advised:

            Such irrigation districts may issue coupon warrants, the proceeds of which are to be used in making the payments required by contracts between the United States and the irrigation districts, and such warrants will be valid general obligations of the issuing districts.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The purpose of an irrigation district is to procure water with which to irrigate lands within the district.

            To accomplish this purpose, the irrigation districts involved have entered into contracts with the United States which require the districts to pay for all of the water they are to get before they get any of it and before assessments will have been collected in sufficient amount to make the payment required to get any water.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In this situation the districts would have the power to issue warrants against the existing assessment roll in anticipation of collection of the assessments even in the absence of a statute specifically authorizing the issuance of such warrants, Ops. Atty. Gen. 1921-22, pages 173-4-5 [[*sic (pages 173-175)]].

            The legislature by enacting § 25, chapter 129, Laws of 1921, § 7459 Rem. Rev. Stat., RCW 87.01.220, has specifically authorized the issuance of general obligation warrants for this purpose.

            Paragraph 3 of this section as codified in RCW 87.01.220 would seem to limit expenditures from the revolving fund created with the proceeds of such warrants to payments necessary for carrying on local improvement work, but the codifier by eliminating the words "as in this act provided" could not change the intent of the legislature, which was to allow the proceeds of such warrants to be paid into a revolving fund for any proper purpose to secure water, including purchase by contract.

            It is noted that the last paragraph of RCW 87.01.220 authorizes the creation by assessment of a "capital fund", which has all of the aspects of a revolving fund.

            The constitutional questions presented where a district is authorized to use general funds in the event of insufficiency of special assessments are not here presented.  See annotations beginning 70 A.L.R. 176 and 135 A.L.R. 1287, sustaining the use of such funds as against all constitutional objections.

            RCW 87.01.220 authorizes (within its requirements) the issuance of general obligation warrants, the proceeds of which may be placed in a fund from which they may be paid by the districts to the United States according to the terms of repayment contracts.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General

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