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AGLO 1974 No. 98 - November 20, 1974
AGO Opinion Header Image
Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

BONDS ‑- "WASHINGTON FUTURES" ‑- PLANNING ‑- USE OF PROCEEDS FOR PLANNING ACTIVITIES

(1) Bond proceeds derived from the issuance and sale of "Washington Futures" bonds for waste disposal, water supply and health and social service facilities may be used to finance the development of comprehensive plans for the purpose of identifying state‑wide [[statewide]]needs for specific purposes; likewise they may be used to finance project feasibility studies related to a particular local problem or condition for which such facilities may be proposed as a solution, and finally they may be used to fund the preparation of a functional plan by a local entity to identify the need for a specific capital project.
 
(2) Bond proceeds derived from the issuance and sale of "Washington Futures" bonds for public recreation facilities may only be expended for such planning as is related to the particular facilities to be funded with them, along with the acquisition, preservation, development and improvement of such facilities.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                               November 20, 1974

Honorable Wallace G. Miller
Director, Office of Program
Planning & Fiscal Management
House Office Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1974 No. 98

Dear Sir:
 
            By letter previously acknowledged you have asked for our opinion regarding the extent to which the proceeds from the "Washington Futures" bond issues authorized by chapters 127, 128, 129 and 130, Laws of 1972, Ex. Sess., may be used for various planning functions.  Specifically, you have asked whether some or all of these bond proceeds may be used:
 
            1. To finance the development of comprehensive plans for the purpose of identifying statewide needs for specific capital facilities;
 
            2. To finance the preparation of studies and investigations or project feasibility and reconnaissance studies applicable only to a particular local problem or condition;
 
            3. To finance the preparation of a functional plan by a local governmental entity to identify the need for a specific type of capital facility.
 
            We respond to these questions in the manner set forth in our analysis.
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            The several bond issues to which your request pertains were all approved by the voters at the 1972 state general election in accordance with Article VIII, § 3 of the state constitution, which provides as follows:
 
            "Except the debt specified in sections one and two of this article, no debts shall hereafter be contracted by, or on behalf of this state, unless such debt  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] shall be authorized by law for some single work or object to be distinctly specified therein.  No such law shall take effect until it shall, at a general election, or a special election called for that purpose, have been submitted to the people and have received a majority of all the votes cast for and against it at such election."
 
            The purpose of each bond issue is to provide funds to finance certain specified objects; namely, waste disposal facilities,1/ water supply facilities,2/ public recreation facilities,3/ and health and social service facilities.4/   The question which arises is whether, and to what extent, the funds derived from these bond issues can be used for comprehensive planning, feasability studies or other planning activities which are broader in scope than that preliminary planning which is always necessary in connection with the actual construction of capital improvements themselves ‑ such as architectural and engineering design studies.
 
            Insofar as is here material, the respective §§ 2 of chapters 127, 128 and 130 each state that the purpose of the bonds to be issued thereunder is that of ". . . providing funds for the planning, acquisition, construction and improvement of . . ." (emphasis supplied) the particular types of facilities to which each of those measures pertain.  Likewise, the comparable section of chapter 129, relating to public recreation facilities, also uses the word "planning" as follows:
 
            "For the purpose of providing funds for the planning, acquisition, preservation, development, and improvement of recreation areas and facilities in this state. . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)5/
 
             Sections 4 of both chapters 127 and 128 then provide that:
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
            "The proceeds from the sale of the bonds deposited in the state and local improvements revolving account of the general fund under the terms of this act shall be administered by the state department of ecology subject to legislative appropriation.  The department may use or permit the use of any funds derived from the sale of bonds authorized under this act to accomplish the purpose for which said bonds are issued by direct expenditures and by grants or loans to public bodies, including grants to public bodies as matching funds in any case where federal, local or other funds are made available on a matching basis for improvements within the purposes of this act."
 
            The counterpart portion of chapter 129, also contained in § 4 thereof, states that:
 
            "The proceeds from the sale of the bonds deposited in the state and local improvements revolving account of the general fund under the terms of this act shall be divided into three shares as follows:
 
            "(1) Thirty-five percent of such proceeds shall be administered, subject to legislative appropriation, by the interagency committee for outdoor recreation through the outdoor recreation account and allocated to the state of Washington, or any agency or department thereof, for the acquisition, preservation, and development of recreation areas and facilities by the state.  The committee may use or permit the use of any portion of such share as matching funds in any case where federal, local, or other funds are made available on a matching basis for improvements within the purposes of this act.
 
            "(2) Thirty-five percent of such proceeds shall be administered, subject to legislative appropriation, by the interagency committee for outdoor recreation through the outdoor recreation account and allocated to public bodies for the acquisition, preservation, development, and improvement of recreational areas and facilities within the jurisdiction of such bodies.  The committee may use or permit the use of any portion of such share for loans or grants to public bodies including use as matching  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] funds in any case where federal, local, or other funds are made available on a matching basis for improvements within the purposes of this act.
 
            "(3) Thirty percent of such proceeds shall be allocated to the state parks and recreation commission, subject to legislative appropriation, for improvement of existing state parks and the acquisition and preservation of historic sites and buildings.  The commission may use or permit the use of any portion of such share as matching funds in any case where federal, local, or other funds are made available on a matching basis for improvements within the purposes of this act."
 
            And finally, § 4 of chapter 130, in similar terms, provides that:
 
            "The proceeds from the sale of the bonds deposited in the state and local improvements revolving account of the general fund under the terms of this act shall be administered by the state department of social and health services, subject to legislative appropriation.  The department shall prepare a comprehensive plan for a system of social and health service facilities for the state and may use or permit the use of any funds derived from the sale of bonds authorized under this act to accomplish such plan by direct expenditures and by grants or loans to public bodies, including grants to public bodies as matching funds in any case where federal, local, or other funds are made available on a matching basis for improvements within the purposes of this act."
 
            In responding to your questions we will deal, first, with the substantially identical provisions of chapters 127 and 128 relating to bonds for waste disposal facilities and water supply facilities, respectively.  This, in turn, will lead us into the subject of planning for social and health services facilities under chapter 130.  And then, finally, we will consider chapter 129, pertaining to the funding of public recreation facilities.
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]
            The concept of planning is difficult to define and has many meanings.  Hagman, Urban Planning and Land Development Law 1-10 (1971).  Webster's Third New International Dictionary, 1730 (1971), defines the verb "plan" to mean:
 
            "To devise procedures or regulations for in accordance with a comprehensive plan for achieving a given objective . . ."
 
            In Webster's New World Dictionary, 1117 (1962), the words "plan" or "planning" are defined to denote a detailed method, formulated beforehand, ". . . for doing or making something . . ."
 
            Bearing these definitions in mind, we think it pertinent to note the long-range objectives which both chapters 127 and 128 are designed to accomplish.  With respect to the first of them, § 1 thereof reads as follows:
 
            "The long-range development goals for the state of Washington must include the protection of the resources and environment of the state and the health and safety of its people by providing adequate facilities and systems for the collection, treatment, and disposal of solid and liquid waste materials."
 
            Similarly, § 1 of chapter 128 states that:
 
            "The long-range development goals for the state of Washington must include the provision of those supportive public services necessary for the development and expansion of industry, commerce, and employment including the furnishing of an adequate supply of water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural purposes."
 
            In view of these stated objectives of both acts it is our opinion that the course of action to be followed by the department of ecology in planning, as that word is used in § 2 of each of them, is not limited to specific projects.  Rather, we believe the word "planning" as thus used connotes a broader, more comprehensive concept.  By this we mean that both acts authorize the department of ecology, before it provides moneys for specific projects, to undertake studies designed to obtain data relevant to the accomplishment of the long-range goals stated in § 1  [[Orig. Op. Page 6]] of each of them ‑ and to fund those studies from the appropriate bond proceeds.  These endeavors would include, for example, the development and evaluation of alternative approaches to attain the goals of the particular act.  We would further contemplate that, as among the various approaches and projects found to be worthy, the department could develop criteria to be used in determining which competing projects will receive funds.  The development of such criteria, obviously, would be most helpful, in light of the limited funds available to the department for allocation.
 
            In short, we believe the planning authorized by these two acts contemplates an effort which will include a carefully developed and comprehensive decision-making process for the allocation of funds ‑ a program designed to produce well-reasoned decisions for money allocation based on fully developed, relevant information.
 
            This conclusion is buttressed by an examination of certain language contained in chapter 130, supra, pertaining to social and health service facilities.  Section 2 thereof states, as do §§ 2 of chapters 127 and 128, that the proceeds of the bonds sold pursuant thereto may be used for ". . . the purpose of providing funds for the planning, acquisition, construction and improvement . . ." of certain facilities.  However, unlike the provisions of §§ 4 of those two acts, it will be recalled that § 4 of chapter 130 expressly provides that the department of social and health services, which administers these bond proceeds,
 
            ". . . shall prepare a comprehensive plan for a system of social and health service facilities for the state and may use or permit the use of any funds derived from the sale of bonds authorized under this act to accomplish such plan by direct expenditures and by grants or loans to public bodies, including grants to public bodies as matching funds in any case where federal, local, or other funds are made available on a matching basis for improvements within the purposes of this act."  (Emphasis supplied.)
 
            Moreover, by § 4 (p. 759), chapter 114, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., the legislature has specifically appropriated $250,000 in social and health services facilities bond proceeds to fund the preparation of this plan.  By this action the legislature has, in effect, itself construed the term "planning" earlier used by it in § 2, chapter 130, supra, to include the preparation of such a comprehensive plan.  See, Anderson v. Seattle, 78 Wn.2d 201, 471 P.2d 87 (1970), and cases cited therein.  Logically, therefore,  [[Orig. Op. Page 7]] this same interpretation may also be given to the same term as it is identically used in §§ 2 of both chapter 127 and chapter 128, supra.
 
            Therefore in conclusion, as to those two acts, it is our opinion that their respective bond proceeds may be used to finance the development of comprehensive plans for the purpose of identifying state‑wide [[statewide]]needs for specific waste disposal and water supply facilities.  Likewise, they may be used to finance project feasibility studies related to a particular local problem or condition for which such facilities may be proposed as a solution.  And finally, by the same token, they may be used to fund the preparation of a functional plan by a local entity to identify the need for a specific capital project.
 
            Similarly, based upon the foregoing description of §§ 2 and 4 of chapter 130, we reach the same conclusions with respect to the planning for social and health services facilities with the proceeds of bonds issued under that companion act ‑ except that in this case, by reason of § 4 of that act, the preparation of a comprehensive plan is mandatory rather than merely permissive.  In this case, the stated purpose of the act, as set forth in its opening section, is expressed as follows:
 
            "The physical and mental health of the people of the state directly affects the achievement of economic progress and full employment.  The establishment of a system of regional and community health and social service facilities will provide the improved and convenient health and social services needed for an efficient work force and a healthy and secure people."
 
            Accord, §§ 1 of chapters 127 and 128, supra.
 
            On the other hand, when we turn, finally, to chapter 129, supra, pertaining to public recreation facilities, we see a somewhat different pattern.  Although this act also contains a similar broadly stated objective,6/ the fund allocation formula in § 4, which we quoted in full earlier,  [[Orig. Op. Page 8]] necessitates a conclusion that the bond proceeds therein provided for can be used only for that planning which is required as an incidental cost of a particular project ‑ rather than the broader function of comprehensive or feasibility planning.
 
            Subsection (1) of this section states that thirty-five percent of the proceeds are to be allocated to the state for the "acquisition, preservation, and development of recreation areas and facilities by the state."  Subsection (2) then provides that another thirty-five percent of the proceeds are to be allocated to "public bodies for the acquisition, preservation, development and improvement of recreational areas and facilities within the jurisdiction of such bodies."  And finally, subsection (3) provides that the remaining thirty percent of the proceeds are 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."
 
            This set of provisions covering the uses to be made of all of these bond proceeds seems to us to preclude any use of them for the kinds of state‑wide [[statewide]]comprehensive plans or project feasibility studies contemplated by the first two segments of your questions.  Therefore, as to these proceeds it is our opinion they may be expended only for such planning as is related to the particular facilities to be funded with them, along with the ". . . acquisition, preservation, development and improvement" of those facilities.

            This completes our consideration of your questions, and we hope that it will be of some assistance to to you.
 
Very truly yours,
 
SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

ROBERT F. HAUTH
Assistant Attorney General

CHARLES B. ROE, JR.
Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***
 
1/Chapter 127, Laws of 1972, Ex. Sess. (Referendum Bill No. 26).
 
2/Chapter 128, supra (Referendum Bill No. 27).
 
3/Chapter 129, supra (Referendum Bill No. 28).
 
4/Chapter 130, supra (Referendum Bill No. 29).
 
5/Section 2, chapter 129, supra.
 
6/Section 1 of chapter 129 provides that:
 
            "The long-range development goals for the state of Washington must include the acqusition, preservation, and improvement of recreation areas and facilities for the use and enjoyment of present and future residents of the state and the further development of the state's tourism and recreation economic base."

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