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AGO 1956 No. 319 - September 20, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

CONTRACTS ‑- SEWAGE DISPOSAL PLANT ‑- MAINTENANCE IN LIEU OF CASH PAYMENT

 The Director of Institutions in the operation of the Washington State Veterans' Home is only limited in such power by specific laws relating to the management of institutions.  We are unaware of any limitation on this subject.  Therefore, in our opinion, a contract may be legally entered into as set forth in your questions numbered 1 and 2. 

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                                                               September 20, 1956

Honorable G. Lee Sandritter, M.D.
Acting Director
Department of Institutions
Institutions Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 319

Dear Sir:

            Your letter, which has been previously acknowledged, requests our opinion on the legality of certain proposals in connection with a sewage disposal plant to be constructed at the Washington Veterans' Home.

            The facts and your inquiries in connection therewith are stated as follows:

            "The 1955 legislature appropriated $90,000.00 to the State Veterans' Home at Retsil for the 'construction of a sewage disposal plant.'  The Department of Institutions has, by contract, requested an architect to design a sewage disposal plant to be constructed on property of the Veterans' Home, which will service the Veterans' Home projected increased population in the year 1976.  The size of the plant will be considerably in excess of the present needs of the Veterans' Home."

            The State Pollution Control Commission has requested the Department of Institutions and the Annapolis Sewer District, which is adjacent to the Veterans' Home, to confer in an effort to determine whether private citizens in the district could be serviced by the proposed plan under a  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] contract agreeable to all parties.

            Before proceeding further, we are in need of your opinion on the following questions:

            (1) Can the Department of Institutions contract with the Annapolis Sewer District for the giving of sewage disposal service to the district from the proposed sewage disposal plant?

            (2) If the answer to question number 1 is in the affirmative, can the Department of Institutions contract with the Annapolis Sewer District, as a consideration for sewage disposal service, to maintain and operate the sewage disposal plant in lieu of cash payment to the state for the services rendered?

            (3) If your answer to question number 2 is in the negative, can the Department of Institutions contract with the Annapolis Sewer District for the payment to the Washington Veterans' Home of a sum of money for services rendered, such funds to be set aside in a trust fund for the Washington Veterans' Home to be used to defray the costs of the operation and maintenance of the sewage disposal plant?

            (4) If your answers to questions number 2 and number 3 are in the negative, then can the Department of Institutions contract with the Annapolis Sewer District for the payment to the treasurer of the State of Washington a sum of money representing the value of the services rendered to the Annapolis Sewer District by the proposed sewage disposal plant?"

            In summary, it is our opinion that your questions, number 1 and 2, should be answered in the affirmative.  Our response to questions number 1 and number 2 alleviates the necessity of supplying answers to questions number 3 and 4.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The legislature in circumscribing the statutory authority of the Director of the Department of Institutions has granted especially wide latitude in enabling the Director to properly administer the institutions under his control.

            RCW 43.28.020, § 4, chapter 195, Laws of 1955, provides in part as follows:

            "The director of institutions shall:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "(1) Have full power to manage and govern the following public institutions:

            "* * * the Washington Veterans' Home, * * *subject only to the limitations contained in laws relating to the management of such institutions;" (Emphasis supplied)

            We are unaware of any statutory or constitutional limitations relating to the management of the Washington Veterans' Home which would prohibit the execution of a contract providing for short term sewage disposal service to private individuals in the area on a temporary basis.  Therefore, in our opinion, the Director of the Department of Institutions may legally enter into a contract for the giving of sewage disposal service to the Annapolis Sewer District from the proposed sewage disposal plant on a temporary basis, until the capacity of the proposed plant is needed in its entirety for the requirements of the Washington Veterans' Home.

            In answer to your question number 2, we find nothing in the law to prevent the Department of Institutions from entering into a contract with the Annapolis Sewer District for the maintenance and operation of the sewage disposal plant, in lieu of a cash payment to the state for the services rendered.  However, it should be pointed out that the sewage disposal plant will, when constructed, be state property and subject to the supervision and control of the Superintendent of the Washington Veterans' Home, and any maintenance and operation of such plant by an employee of the Annapolis Sewer District would necessarily be subject to the control and supervision of the Superintendent of the Washington Veterans' Home.

            In view of the conclusions reached on your questions number 1 and number 2, it becomes unnecessary to respond to your other inquiries.

            We hope that the foregoing analysis will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


STEPHEN C. WAY
Assistant Attorney General

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