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AGO 1951 No. 140 - October 01, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOLS ‑- FUNDS ‑- WARRANTS ‑- TREASURER REQUIRED TO CALL WARRANTS, WHEN

Treasurer required to issue warrant call on general school district funds in same manner as warrant calls are made on general funds of counties, cities and towns.

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                                                                 October 1, 1951

Honorable Robert S. Campbell, Jr.
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 140

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of September 13, 1951, in which you requested our opinion as follows:

            "Does Remington's Revised Statutes sections 4086 and 4118 apply to school district funds and warrants?  If they do, is the Treasurer required to issue a warrant call in the event that the moneys in any school district fund are $500.00 or more, and there are registered interest bearing warrants outstanding against such funds?"

            It is our conclusion that Rem. Rev. Stat. 4086, when construed in conjunction with section 4096, is applicable to school districts of the second and third class, insofar as the drawing, issuing and breaking of warrants on school funds is concerned.  Rem. Rev. Stat. 4118 is applicable to the calling of warrants drawn and issued against all general school funds, but is not applicable to the calling of warrants drawn and issued against special funds which cannot be devoted to any other purpose.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Rem. Rev. Stat. 4086, provides in part as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "* * * For claims allowed by the county commissioners, as also for cost billsand other lawful claims duly approved by the competent tribunal designated by law for their allowance, he [county auditor] shall draw a warrant on the county treasurer, * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            Rem. Rev. Stat. 4096 provides that the county auditor shall draw and issue all warrants for the payment of claims against school districts of the second and third class, upon vouchers properly approved by the respective commissioners, trustees or directors of such district.

            We are informed by the Division of Municipal Corporations of the State Auditor's office that Grant County contains no school district of the first class.  It therefore appears that sections 4086 and 4096,supra, construed together, are applicable to school districts of the second and third class, insofar as the drawing, issuing and breaking of warrants on school district funds is concerned.

            Rem. Rev. Stat. 4118, begins as follows:

            "Whenever the treasurer of any county, city, town or other municipality shall have in his hands, as such treasurer, the sum of five hundred dollars belonging to any fund upon which warrants are outstanding, it shall be his duty to make a call for such warrants to that amount in the order of their issue, * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            The further answer to your query depends upon the interpretation to be accorded to the words "or other municipality", above underscored.  We are unable to locate a definition of the word "municipality" in the Supreme Court reports of this state.  A search of foreign authorities reveals that the word is often strictly construed as meaning "pure," or "strict" municipal corporations such as counties, cities and towns, but it is just as frequently construed in its broad sense as embracing all municipal corporations, including school districts.  Many courts have recognized that "municipality" is commonly used synonymously with "municipal corporation."

            We believe that our legislature meant to apply the broad definition to the word "municipality" in section 4118, supra.  This is indicated by the previous reference to counties, cities and towns, which includes all municipalities in  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] the "pure" sense.  Reference to "other municipalities" must therefore have been intended to include other municipal corporations if the words are to be given meaning.  Brown Bros. v. Columbia Irr. Dist., 82 Wash. 274, 281, 144 Pac. 74.

            School districts are municipal corporations.  Maxom v. School District No. 34, 5 Wash. 142, 31 Pac. 462, 32 Pac. 110; State ex rel. School District No. 24 v. Grimes, 7 Wash. 270, 34 Pac. 836.  It follows that Rem. Rev. Stat. 4118, supra, is applicable to school district funds and warrants drawn thereon.

            Accordingly, school district warrants must be called and paid in the same statutory manner as the warrants of counties, cities and towns, as the apparent intent of the legislature was to prevent accumulation of interest on such warrants when funds for payment became available, in the amount of five hundred dollars, or such lesser sum as may have been provided pursuant to section 4118, supra.

            However, Rem. Rev. Stat. 4118 does not apply to warrants drawn against special funds which cannot be devoted to any other purpose.  Potter v. Black, 15 Wash. 186, 45 Pac. 787.  Although the cited case did not concern a school district, as such, it did involve a strict municipal corporation, the City of Whatcom, and it is our conclusion that thePotter case,supra, is equally applicable to school districts, for reasons previously set forth in this opinion.

            We conclude that the treasurer of a school district (who is the county treasurer, by virtue of Rem. Rev. Stat. 4867) is required to issue a warrant call in the event that the moneys in any school district fund (except a special fund which cannot be devoted to any other purpose) total five hundred dollars or more, and there are registered interest bearing warrants outstanding against such fund, as provided by Rem. Rev. Stat. 4118.

            It is not clear to us why you have requested our opinion on the applicability of Rem. Rev. Stat. 4086, to school district funds and warrants.  We have considered that request as a separate question.  If you are concerned with the applicability of section 4086 to the breaking of warrants when warrants are called under section 4118, we caution you that such breaking is authorized only at the time of issuance.  The treasurer is not required to call warrants until the sum available for payment is sufficient to pay the amount due on the warrant longest outstanding, even though the sum available exceeds five hundred dollars.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

STORRS B. CLOUGH
Assistant Attorney General

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