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March 9, 1970
Honorable Robert L. Charette
State Representative, 19th District
100 West 1st Street
P.O. Box 63
Aberdeen, Washington 98520
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 30
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on a question pertaining to the authority of Grays Harbor County:
". . . to adopt a county-wide ordinance concerning mandatory collection and disposal of solid wastes and establish an adequate fee schedule to support such service where necessary?"
In response to this question, we would specifically call your attention to the provisions of Title 55 RCW, relating to the formation of county sanitary districts. On the basis of the statutes contained in this Title (which was originally enacted as chapter 155, Laws of 1933) we concluded, in an opinion dated September 23, 1943, to the Executive Secretary of the Washington State Association of County Commissioners (copy enclosed), that a board of county commissioners, through the formation of one or more sanitary districts, could operate a county garbage collection service on a fee basis. We would particularly direct your attention to RCW 55.08.010, which spells out the rule‑making power of a board of county commissioners upon the formation of a sanitary district.
Alternatively, we believe that a county such as Grays Harbor County may be said to possess the necessary authority to enact the type of ordinance to which you have referred under the provisions of RCW 36.32.120 (7). Under this statute, each of the several boards of county commissioners which are governed thereby is empowered to:
". . .
"(7) Make and enforce, by appropriate resolutions or ordinances, all such police and sanitary regulations as are not in conflict with state law, . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
However, irrespective of which of these two approaches to the matter is taken by a particular county, it should be pointed out and understood that the county's ordinance will only be operative with respect to solid waste disposal in unincorporated areas of the county. If the county proceeds under Title 55 RCW, its territorial jurisdiction will be limited in this respect by RCW 55.04.010, which specifies that sanitary districts for the collection and disposal of garbage and other waste matter are only authorized to be established ". . . in territories outside of incorporated cities and towns . . ." If it proceeds through the enactment of a "police power" ordinance under RCW 36.32.120 (7), supra, a similar territorial or geographic limitation is involved in accordance with the principles enunciated by this office in an opinion dated May 13, 1968, to State Representative George P. Sheridan, copy enclosed.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General