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AGO 1953 No. 44 - May 15, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

KING COUNTY DIRECTORS' ASSOCIATION, PURCHASING DEPARTMENT ‑- AS INSTRUMENTALITY OF POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF STATE ‑- POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS DEFINED ‑- FEDERAL SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM, PARTICIPATION OF EMPLOYEES IN.

The King County Directors' Association Purchasing Department is an instrumentality of one or more political subdivisions of this state and therefore falls within the definition of a "political subdivision" as contained in RCW 41.48.020 (5).

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                                                                   May 15, 1953

 

Mr. L. H. Bates, Commissioner
Employment Security Department
Old Capitol Building
P.O. Box 367
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 44

 

Dear Sir:

            This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 21, 1953, wherein you request our opinion as to whether the King County Directors' Association Purchasing Department is a separate instrumentality, thereby allowing the employees thereof to participate in the Federal Social Security Program.

            It is our conclusion that said department is an instrumentality of one or more political subdivisions of this state and, therefore, its employees are entitled to participate in the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Program of the Federal Social Security Act.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 41.48.050 authorizes political subdivisions of this state to apply for the protection afforded by the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Program of the Federal Social Security Act.  In defining the term "political subdivision," RCW 41.48.020 (5) provides that a political subdivision may include an "instrumentality" of one or more political subdivisions of this state.  An "instrumentality" is defined in 44 C.J.S. 422 as being "a subordinate or auxiliary agency; agency  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] of anything as means to an end; anything used as a means or agency."  Said text also states that the term instrumentality has been held synonymous with agent.  Therefore, the primary problem is to determine whether the King County Directors' Association Purchasing Department is an instrumentality or agency within the purview of the foregoing act defining political subdivisions.

            The statute authorizing the formation of such a Purchasing Department, RCW 28.58.100 (15), is merely a brief enabling act and does not throw any light upon the question at hand.  We must, therefore, resort to the actual facts concerning the formation and operation of said Purchasing Department in order to determine the present problem.

            Said Purchasing Department was organized on May 6, 1948, pursuant to articles of agreement and is participated in by all school districts in King County desiring to participate in the same, and who approve and sign said articles of agreement.  It was established with its own Board of Officers and the affairs of the Department are governed and controlled by five directors who are selected from the directors of the participating members and the school districts are in turn divided into five divisions representing various contiguous areas of King County, each of which elects one director.  The directors are elected for a term of three years and among their duties they must audit and approve vouchers and provide for the employment and the fixing of the salaries of the employees of the Purchasing Department.

            The various participating districts annually submit their requirements to the Purchasing Department who in turn purchase the items required and charge the districts the actual cost of the purchase involved, plus twelve percent.  Said twelve percent is put into a fund from which the salaries of the employees of the department are paid and also provides working capital for the department.

            All surplus funds so accumulated over and above the cost of operating the department are distributed to the various districts in proportion to their purchases.  The school districts are also authorized to order items at any time during the year, but in that event the Purchasing Department orders the items and has the supplier charge the school district direct for the cost of such extraordinary purchase.  The advantages derived from such a system are obvious and it is not deemed germane to this opinion to set them forth herein.

            It is believed that the foregoing facts clearly show that the King County Directors' Association Purchasing Department is an instrumentality within the meaning of the aforesaid definition and further, that it is an instrumentality of one or  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] more political subdivisions of this state, to wit; the school districts, and therefore, falls within the purview of RCW 41.48.020 (5).  Accordingly, it is our opinion that the employees of said Purchasing Department are entitled to participate in the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Program of the Federal Social Security Act providing they can meet the other mandatory requirements and their application is approved by your department.

 

Very truly yours,

 

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

ELROY F. WIEHL
Assistant Attorney General

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