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AGO 1965 No. 38 - September 15, 1965
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


FUNDS ‑- COUNTY ‑- TREASURER ‑- FINANCE COMMITTEE ‑- AUTHORITY TO DESIGNATE DEPOSITARY OF COUNTY FUNDS OR AMOUNTS THEREOF IN PARTICULAR DEPOSITARIES.

A county finance committee does not have the authority to direct which of several eligible banks shall be designated by the county treasurer as depositary of county funds or to determine the amount of funds to be placed in a particular depositary.

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                                                              September 15, 1965

Honorable L. Edward Brown
Prosecuting Attorney
Grays Harbor County
417 Finch Building
Aberdeen, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 65-66 No. 38

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Does a county finance committee have authority to direct which of several eligible banks shall be designated by the county treasurer as depositary of county funds, or to determine the amount of county funds which may be placed in a particular depositary?

            We answer your question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 36.29.020 provides in pertinent part that:

            "The county treasurer shall keep all moneys belonging to the state, or to any county, in his own possession until disbursed according to law.  He shall not place the same in the possession of any person to be used for any purpose; nor shall he loan or in any manner use or permit any person to use the same; but it shall be lawful for a county treasurer to deposit any such moneys in any regularly designated county depositary. . . ."  (Emphasis supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The designation of county depositaries is controlled by RCW 36.48.010, providing as follows:

            "Each county treasurer shall annually on the second Monday in January, and at such other times as he deems necessary, designate one or more banks in the state as depositary or depositaries of all public funds held and required to be kept by him as such treasurer, and such designation or designations shall be in writing, and shall be filed with the board of county commissioners of his county, and no county treasurer shall deposit any public money in banks, except as herein provided."

            The word "bank," in connection with its use in that statute, is defined in RCW 36.48.060 as follows:

            "The word 'bank' whenever it occurs in RCW 36.48.010 through 36.48.050 includes all national, foreign, state, and private banks and trust companies doing business in the state."

            RCW 36.48.020 and 36.48.030 establish certain procedures to be taken by banks prior to any such designation becoming effectual.

            Once the designation of a bank or banks as depositaries is effectual, the county treasurer would appear to have the sole discretion as to the bank or banks into which he shall deposit county money.  RCW 36.29.020,supra.  With regard to the function of the county finance committee in connection with depositaries, RCW 36.48.070 provides as follows:

            "The county treasurer, the county auditor, and the chairman of the board of county commissioners, ex officio, shall constitute the county finance committee.  The county treasurer shall act as chairman of the committee and the county auditor as secretary thereof, and the office of the committee shall be in the office of the county auditor.  The committee shall keep a full and complete record of all its proceedings in appropriate books of record and all such records and all correspondence relating to the committee shall be kept in the office of the county auditor and shall be open to public inspection.  The committee shall make appropriate rules and regulations for the carrying out of the provisions of RCW 36.48.010 through 36.48.060, not inconsistent with law."  (Emphasis supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            This statute contains within it the legislative declaration (which we have underscored) which would ordinarily be supplied by rules of statutory construction; namely, that statutes should not be deemed in conflict with each other where they can be appropriately harmonized.  See,In re Sanford, 10 Wn.2d 686, 118 P.2d 179 (1941).  In our opinion RCW 36.48.010 and RCW 36.29.020, supra, give to the county treasurer the discretionary function of designating county depositaries, and of determining what amounts shall be placed in any particular depositary.  RCW 36.48.070 gives the finance committee the authority to make appropriate rules and regulations.  However, such rules and regulations must be consistent with the discretionary power granted to the county treasurer; not inconsistent with it.

            Accordingly, we answer your question (as paraphrased) in the negative.  The county finance committee does not have authority to direct which of several eligible banks shall be designated by the county treasurer as depositary of county funds or to determine the amount of funds to be placed in a particular depositary.

            We trust this information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ROBERT F. HAUTH
Assistant Attorney General

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