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AGLO 1977 No. 13 - March 28, 1977
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM ‑- REFERENDUM NO. 28 ‑- USE OF BOND PROCEEDS FOR OUTDOOR AND INDOOR RECREATIONAL FACILITIES

Proceeds derived from the sale of bonds issued under Referendum Bill No. 28 (chapter 129, Laws of 1972, Ex.Sess.) are not limited, in terms of use, to the acquisition or construction of outdoor recreational facilities only and thus they may be used in connection with both outdoor and indoor public recreational facilities.

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                                                                  March 28, 1977

Honorable Gordon Herr
State Senator, 31st District
401-D Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1977 No. 13


Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have requested an opinion regarding the use of Referendum No. 28 bond proceeds.  Specifically, you have asked whether such bond proceeds are limited to "outdoor" recreational projects only ‑ as opposed to being legally available to fund indoor public recreational facilities as well.

            We respond to your inquiry in the manner set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Referendum No. 28 was one of several state general obligation bond referendum bills passed by the 1972 legislature and referred to the voters at the November, 1972 election as required by Article VIII, § 3 of our state constitution.  In tandem, these several measures are commonly referred to as the "Washington Futures" bond authorization bills.

            The particular purpose of Referendum No. 28, as evidenced by §§ 1 and 2 thereof (since codified as RCW 43.830.010 and 43.830.020) was to provide funds

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            ". . . for the planning, acquisition, preservation, development, and improvement of recreation areas and facilities in this state, . . ."

            Consistent therewith, the official ballot title and caption for the proposition, as prepared by this office in accordance with RCW 29.79.060, read as follows:

            "BONDS FOR PUBLIC RECREATION FACILITIES

            "AN ACT authorizing the issuance and sale of state general obligation bonds in the sum of $40,000,000 to provide funds for the planning, acquisition, preservation, development, and improvement of recreation areas and facilities; designating the interagency committee for outdoor recreation to be responsible for disbursement of the bond proceeds, subject to prior legislative appropriations; and providing for payment of the bonds from unpledged state retail sales tax revenues or other means authorized by the legislature."

            In addition, the attorney general is required by RCW 29.27.076 to prepare an official explanatory statement for such bond referendum bills as this and the full text of that statement, in the case of this particular bond referendum bill, read as follows:

            "If approved, this act will authorize the issuance and sale of the general obligation bonds described above at any time prior to January 1, 1980.  However, these bonds will be offered for sale during this period only after the legislature has made an appropriation of the proceeds of the bonds to be sold.  No appropriation of these proceeds for the current (1971-73) biennium is contained in this act.

            "When the bonds are sold the funds derived therefrom will be administered by the interagency committee on outdoor recreation.  This agency will be directed to divide these funds into three shares, as follows:

            "(1) Thirty-five percent to be used for the acquisition, preservation and development of recreation areas and facilities by the state and its agencies, generally;

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "(2) Thirty-five percent to be allocated to political subdivisions, taxing districts, municipal corporations, or certain Indian tribes for their use in the acquisition, preservation, development and improvement of recreational areas and facilities within jurisdiction of such bodies; and

            "(3) Thirty percent to be allocated to the state parks and recreation commission for improvement of existing state parks and the acquisition and preservation of historic sites and buildings.

            "The act states that these bond proceeds may be expended for the acquisition and preservation of historic sites and buildings and scenic and environmentally valuable areas and the improvement of existing park and recreation areas and facilities.

            "The act provides for payment of these bonds from a portion of the proceeds of the state retail sales tax and from such other sources as may be authorized by the legislature.  In addition, it provides that the bonds shall pledge the full faith and credit of the state for payment of the principal and interest thereon when due."

            Some confusion, however, has apparently developed recently regarding the permissible uses of these particular bond proceeds because of the fact that they are statutorily administered by the interagency committee on outdoor recreation as created earlier by a 1965 enactment now codified as RCW 43.99.110.  In addition, the confusion is compounded by the futher fact that the first two component segments of the allocated proceeds involve funds which flow through theoutdoor recreation account within the state general fund which is provided for by RCW 43.99.060.

            In our opinion, however, neither of those two circumstances should be taken to mean that Referendum No. 28 bond proceeds are limited to "outdoor" recreational uses only.  Nowhere within the law does the term "outdoor" appear in juxtaposition with the phrase "recreational facilities" with respect to any of the portions of the law referring to the purposes or objects to which the bond proceeds may be applied.  Likewise, nothing in either the official ballot title or the explanatory statement regarding the measure, as above set forth, indicates any such qualification or restriction.  In fact,  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] it is notable that one of the specified objects of the legislation is the ". . . acquisition and preservation of historic sitesand buildings. . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)  Such buildings, quite obviously, might well be used, in turn, for some form ofindoor recreational activity.

            On the other hand, however, it is of course quite clear from both the law itself and the ballot title and explanatory statement that Referendum No. 28 bond proceeds are only available for the financing of public recreational facilities and projects.

            Thus, the first thirty-five percent of the bond proceeds has been allocated for the acquisition, preservation and development of recreation areas and facilitiesby the state; the second thirty-five percent has been allocated for distribution to other

            ". . . public bodies1/ for the acquisition, preservation, development and improvement of recreational areas and facilities within the jurisdicition of such bodies. . . .";

            and the final thirty percent has been allocated to the state parks and recreation commission for the improvement of existing state parks and the acquisition and preservation of historic sites and buildings.  Clearly, any recreational project to be funded with the bond proceeds thus must fall within one of these three categories of uses ‑ irrespective of whether the particular facility in question is an "outdoor" or "indoor" recreational facility.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,


SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/Defined by RCW 43.83C.050 to mean:

            ". . . any political subdivision, taxing district, or municipal corporation of the state of Washington, and those Indian tribes now or hereafter recognized as such by the federal government for participation in the federal land and water conservation program and which may constitutionally receive grants or loans from the state of Washington."

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