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AGO 1950 No. 362 - October 06, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CITY COUNCILMEN OF 3RD AND 4TH CLASS CITIES DOING BUSINESS WITH THEIR CITY

City councilmen of cities of the third class may perform services or furnish supplies to the city up to $100 in any calendar month, and city councilmen of cities of the fourth class may perform services or furnish supplies to the city up to $50 in any calendar month so long as no incompatibility exists.

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                                                                 October 6, 1950

Mr. Ernest H. Campbell
Assistant Director
Bureau of Governmental Research
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 362

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of August 2, 1950, you requested an opinion on "whether or not city councilmen may perform services up to $100 per month and up to $50 per month in third and fourth class cities, respectively."

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            City councilmen of cities of the third class may perform services or furnish supplies to the city up to $100 in any calendar month, and city councilmen of cities of the fourth class may perform services or furnish supplies to the city up to $50 in any calendar month so long as no incompatibility exists.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            At the outset it must be noted that this opinion is limited to the question quoted above and we are not passing on the entirely different question of incompatibility of public offices.  In our opinion to the State Auditor, dated July 12,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] 1948, we said that on the ground of incompatibility a city councilman of a city of the fourth class could not serve as a city employee in street, sewer or waterworks projects.  We still adhere to that opinion, and our conclusions herein are not to be interpreted to negative the prohibition against incompatibility of offices.  In other words, the 1941 amendment of Rem. Rev. Stat. 9146 and 9194 did not remove the bar against holding incompatible positions.

            Section 1, chapter 57, Laws of 1941 (9146 Rem. Supp. 1941), amended section 32, chapter 184, Laws of 1915 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 9146), to read:

            "No officer of such city shall be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with such city, or with any of the officers thereof, in their official capacity, or in doing any work or furnishing any supplies for the use of such city or its officers in their official capacity; and any claim for compensation for work done, or supplies or materials furnished, in which any such officer is interested, shall be void, and if audited and allowed, shall not be paid by the treasurer.  Any person who is resident agent for, or local dealer in, the goods and supplies of any person, firm or corporation furnishing such goods and supplies for the use of such city, or to any officer thereof in his official capacity, or to any contractor for use in the performance of any contract with such city, shall be ineligible to hold office in said city; and any officer of such city who shall be resident agent for, or local dealer in, the goods and supplies of any person, firm or corporation, furnishing such goods and supplies for the use of such city, or to any officer thereof in his official capacity, or to any contractor for use in the performance of any contract with such city, shall be deemed to be interested as contemplated herein.  The provisions of this section shall not apply to any contract or any work, or the purchase of any material, goods or supplies  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] when the expenditure thereof is one hundred dollars ($100), or less, in any calendar month.  Any willful violation of the provisions of this section shall be a ground for removal from office, and shall be deemed a misdemeanor, and punished as such."

            Section 2, chapter 57, Laws of 1941 (9194 Rem. Supp. 1941), amended section 176, chapter VII, Laws of 1890 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 9194), to read:

            "No officer of such town shall be interested directly or indirectly in any contract with such town or with any of the officers thereof, in their official capacity, nor in doing any work nor furnishing any supplies for the use of such town, or its officers in their official capacity; and any claim for compensation for work done or supplies or material furnished in which any such officer is interested shall be void, and if audited and allowed, shall not be paid by the treasurer.  The provisions of this section shall not apply to any contract or the purchase of any material or supplies when the expenditure therefor is fifty dollars ($50), or less, in any calendar month.  Any willful violation of the provisions of this section shall be a ground for removal from office, and shall be deemed a misdemeanor and punished as such."

            The above two sections, in our opinion, make it clear that city councilmen may now do business with their city as long as in cities of the third class the city does not expend, nor a councilman receive more than $100 in any calendar month, and in cities of the fourth class the city does not expend, nor the councilman receive more than $50 in any calendar month for the services rendered or supplies furnished.

            However, as pointed out above, where services are rendered, they must be compatible with the office of councilman even though the compensation received be within the limitation of the above two statutes.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

 ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General

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