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AGO 1958 No. 177 - April 08, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

CIVIL DEFENSE ‑- LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS ‑- AUTHORITY TO CONTRIBUTE FUNDS TO LOCAL CIVIL DEFENSE ORGANIZATION OF ANOTHER STATE.

COUNTIES ‑- CIVIL DEFENSE ‑- AUTHORITY TO CONTRIBUTE FUNDS TO LOCAL CIVIL DEFENSE ORGANIZATION OF ANOTHER STATE.

A county civil defense organization is not legally authorized to contribute money to a civil defense organization of another state except during an actual emergency and pursuant to a mutual aid agreement.

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

                                                                    April 8, 1958

Honorable Charles C. Ralls
Director
Department of Civil Defense
P.O. Box 519
Olympia, Washington                                                                                         Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 177

Dear Sir:

            By letter, previously acknowledged, you have requested the advice of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            May a county civil defense organization contribute funds to a local civil defense agency created under the laws of a neighboring state?

            Your question is answered in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Municipal corporations have only such powers as are expressly granted, or necessarily implied, from granted powers.  Pacific 1st Fed. Savings and Loan Association v. Pierce County, 27 Wn. (2d) 347.

            The authority of local civil defense organizations to be joined in their establishment and operation is contained in RCW 38.52.070, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            ". . . The director of civil defense may authorize two or more political subdivisions to join in the establishment and operation of a local organization for civil defense as circumstances may warrant, in which case each political subdivision shall contribute to the cost of civil defense upon such fair and equitable basis as may be determined upon by the executive heads of the constituent subdivisions. . . ."

            This statutory grant, however, is limited to the political subdivisions of the state of Washington under the direction and control of the director of civil defense.  It cannot be construed in such a manner as to permit the establishment and operation of a joint organization encompassing local civil defense agencies of this and other states.

            Provision has been made for assistance to local civil defense agencies of other states by RCW 38.52.090, which provides in subsection (2) as follows:

            "The director of each local organization for civil defense may, subject to the approval of the governor, enter into mutual aid arrangements with civil defense agencies or organizations in other states for reciprocal civil defenseaid and assistance in case of disaster too great to be dealt with unassisted."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Even if the words "aid and assistance" were to be construed in their broadest sense, and deemed to include the contribution of money in support of a local defense agency of another state, such "aid and assistance" under the terms of the statute must be predicated upon a disaster of sufficient magnitude that a single agency would be unable to cope with it.  The primary duty of the local civil defense agency is to the citizens of its locale.  This is made clear by Article 3 of the Interstate Civil Defense and Disaster Compact between the States of Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, which provides, in part, as follows:

            ". . . it is understood that the state rendering aid may withhold resources to the extent necessary to provide reasonable protection for such state. . . ."

            Accordingly, it is our conclusion that the contribution of a fixed sum of money  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] per annum to a civil defense agency of another state is not within the authority granted a county organization of this state, except in the event of an immediate need arising out of an actual emergency, and pursuant to a duly executed and approved mutual aid agreement.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

JAMES R. CUNNINGHAM
Assistant Attorney General

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