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AGO 1964 No. 115 - August 24, 1964
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


Where a city and a fire protection district have an agreement for mutual fire protection under the terms of which the district agrees, in part, to pay the city a sum equivalent to the salary of one full-time fireman and an additional sum equal to the salary of one full-time fireman‑-this money must be paid into the current expense fund (if the city has not established a payrolls fund).

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                                                                 August 24, 1964

Honorable Don L. Talley
State Senator, 18th District
Kelso, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 115

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on the following paraphrased questions:

            (1) Where there is in operation an agreement for mutual fire protection between a city and a fire protection district, and under the agreement the district agrees in part "to pay to the City . . . a sum equivalent to the salary of one (1) full time fireman, and to pay an additional sum equal to the salary of one (1) full time fireman . . .," must this amount be paid into the current expense fund (if the city has not established a payrolls fund)?

            (2) If the answer to question (1) is in the negative, may such fund be retained by the city in a separate fund other than a payrolls fund authorized by RCW 35.21.085, and be paid as a salary supplement distributed to all city firemen proportionately?

            We answer your first question in the affirmative; thus, this disposes of the necessity of answering your second question.


            It is fundamental, of course, that municipal corporations, including cities and fire protection districts, have only those powers granted to them by statute.  See,Pacific First Federal  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] Savings & Loan Ass'n v. Pierce County, 27 Wn. (2d) 347, 178 P. (2d) 351 (1947).

            Where a power or duty is given to a public officer, and the means for carrying out that function are specified by statute, no other means can be employed.  See,State ex rel. Eastvold v. Maybury, 49 Wn. (2d) 533, 304 P. (2d) 663 (1956).

            Presumably the contract in question was entered into under the express authority of RCW 52.08.030, which provides in pertinent part as follows:

            "Any fire protection district organized under this act shall have authority:

            ". . .

            "(3) To enter into contract with any incorporated city or town whereby such city or town shall furnish fire prevention and fire extinguishment service to the districts and the inhabitants thereof under the provisions of this act upon such terms as the board of directors of the district shall determine. . . . Any city, town, municipal corporation or governmental agency may contract with a county fire protection district . . . for the purpose of affording such district fire fighting and protection equipment and service or fire prevention facilities, and in so contracting the district, city, town, municipal corporation or other governmental agency shall be deemed for all purposes to act within its governmental capacity. . . ."

            The statute leaves the terms of agreements to be arranged between the fire protection district and the city.  However, in this, as in all its other activities, the city must be deemed to be operating as a city under the normal rules governing the receipt and expenditure of its funds, in the absence of any language to the contrary in RCW 52.08.030,supra.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            RCW 35.37.010 provides as follows:

            "Every city and town having less than twenty thousand inhabitants shall maintain a current expense fund out of which it must pay current expenses.  It shall also maintain an 'indebtedness fund,' and if it has outstanding general indebtedness bonds, it must maintain a sinking fund therefor.  If it maintains waterworks, lighting plant, cemetery, or other public works or institutions from which rent or other revenue is derived it must maintain a separate fund for each utility or institution.  All moneys collected by such cities and towns from licenses shall be credited to the current expense fund."

            RCW 35.21.085 provides in pertinent part as follows:

            "The legislative authority of any city or town is authorized to create the following special funds:

            "(1) Payrolls‑-into which moneys may be placed from time to time as directed by the legislative authority from any funds available and upon which warrants may be drawn and cashed for the purpose of paying any moneys due city employees for salaries and wages.  The accounts of the city or town shall be so kept that they shall show the department or departments and amounts to which the payment is properly chargeable."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Thus, each city or town of the class in question must receive and expend its funds according to the appropriate fund category.  See, also, RCW 43.09.210, requiring strict accountability for each fund and each activity of municipal government.  Chapter 35.33 RCW is the city budget law, for budgets in second and third class cities, and first class cities under 300,000.  It requires annual budgeting as a condition for expenditures by a city, and RCW 35.33.040, relating to preparation of budgets, provides in pertinent part  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] as follows:

            "All estimates, appropriations and expenditures shall be classified under the general classes of:

            "(1) Salaries and wages;

            "(2) Maintenance and operation;

            "(3) Capital outlay;

            "(4) Interest and debt redemption;

            "(5) Expenditures proposed to be made from bond or warrant issues not yet authorized.

            "Within the general class of 'salaries and wages' each salary shall be set forth separately, together with the title or position of the recipient. . . ."

            Under RCW 35.33.070, the final budget is adopted by ordinance.  No expenditures may be made by the city in excess of the itemized appropriations except under the emergency procedure specified in RCW 35.33.080 through 35.33.100.  See, also, RCW 35.33.120, specifically limiting expenditures to the budgeted items.

            Under these statutes, it is clearly the duty of the city, on receiving payments from a fire protection district under the contract specifically for salaries, to place such funds in the current expense fund (out of which its fire department is operated), and either expend them for salaries of firemen through the medium of such fund, or consider them as reimbursement to the current expense fund for salaries paid to the city's firemen.1/

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/Of course, if the city elects to adopt the payrolls fund authorized RCW 35.21.085, the mechanical procedure for receipt and disbursement would be varied slightly.  However, as evidenced by the terms of that statute, the payrolls fund would be merely a clearing fund; that is, a mechanical device through which all other funds, including the current expense fund, would handle their total salary and wage payments.  It would not involve a substantial departure from present budget procedures as would the fund mentioned in your second question.

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