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January 11, 1972
Honorable Joseph Panattoni
P.O. Box 577
Ellensburg, Washington 98926 Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 3 (not official)
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on the following question:
"'Is it the duty of the Prosecuting Attorney to represent the County Disability Boards as authorized in RCW 41.26.110?'"
We answer this question in the affirmative.
RCW 41.26.110 is a part of the law relating to the Washington law enforcement officers' and fire fighters' retirement system. As explained in AGO 1971 No. 14 [[to Lloyd G. Baker, LEFF Retirement System on April 14, 1971]], copy enclosed, the function of the various county or other local disability boards which are to be established pursuant to this section is, primarily, that of the initial processing of applications by members of the system for disability retirement benefits under RCW 41.26.120, et seq.; see, also, RCW 41.26.150 relating to certain medical benefits which are to be administered by these local disability boards.
Subsection (b) of RCW 41.26.110 specifically requires that:
"(b) Each county shall establish a disability board having jurisdiction over all members residing in the county and not employed by a city in which a disability board is established. The county disability board so created shall be composed of five members to be chosen as follows: One member of the legislative body of the county to be appointed by the county legislative body, one member of a city or town legislative body located within the county which does not contain a city disability board established pursuant to subsection [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] (1) (a) of this section to be chosen by a majority of the mayors of such cities and towns within the county which does not contain a city disability board, one fire fighter to be elected by the fire fighters subject to the jurisdiction of the county disability board, one law enforcement officer to be elected by the law enforcement officers subject to the jurisdiction of the county disability board, and one member from the public at large who resides within the county but does not reside within a city in which a city disability board is established, to be appointed by the other four appointed members heretofore designated in this subsection. All members appointed or elected pursuant to this subsection shall serve for two year terms.
"(2) The members of both the county and city disability boards shall not receive compensation for their service upon the boards but said members shall be reimbursed by their respective county or city for all expenses incidental to such service as to the amount authorized by law.
"(3) The disability boards authorized for establishment by this section shall perform all functions, exercise all powers, and make all such determinations as specified in this chapter." (Emphasis supplied.)
The primary duties of a prosecuting attorney are, of course, those which are set forth in RCW 36.27.020, which provides, in material part, that:
"The prosecuting attorney shall:
". . .
"(2) Be legal adviser to all county and precinct officers and school directors in all matters relating to their official business, . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)
It is our opinion, based upon the language of RCW 41.26.110 (b), supra, that the members of a county disability board established by a county pursuant to the [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] provisions of that subsection, where expenses are reimbursed by "their" counties under subsection (2), must be regarded as "county officers" within the meaning of RCW 36.27.020. Accordingly, it is the duty of the prosecuting attorney of each county to serve as legal adviser to such disability boards.
We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General