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AGO 1959 No. 46 - June 24, 1959
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS - COUNTY - WARRANTS - EFFECT OF STATUTE AUTHORIZING BIMONTHLY PAYMENT TO COUNTY EMPLOYEES UPON STATUTE REQUIRING TEN DAYS BEFORE COUNTY WARRANT IS TO ISSUE, AFTER ITS APPROVAL.

RCW 36.17.040, authorizing the payment of salaries bimonthly to county employees, as amended by chapter 300, Laws of 1959, supersedes RCW 36.22.050, restricting the issuance of warrants for ten days after the date of allowance.

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                                                                   June 24, 1959

Honorable John Panesko
Prosecuting Attorney
Lewis County
Chehalis, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 46

Dear Sir:

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

            Does the provision of RCW 36.22.050 that "no warrant shall be issued within less than ten days after the date of its allowance" apply to warrants drawn for the payment of earned monthly salaries of county employees pursuant to § 1, chapter 300, Laws of 1959 (cf. RCW 36.17.040)?

            Your question is answered in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            At its recent session our legislature enacted chapter 300, Laws of 1959, amending § 1, chapter 37, Laws of 1953 (cf. RCW 36.17.040) which provides:

            "The salaries of county officers and employees of counties other than counties of the eight [sic] and ninth classes may be paid twice monthly out of the county treasury, and the county auditor, for services rendered from the first to the fifteenth day, inclusive, may, not later than the twentieth day of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] the month, draw his warrant upon the county treasurer in favor of each of such officers and employees for the amount of salary due him, and such auditor, for services rendered from the sixteenth to the last day, inclusive, may similarly draw his warrant, not later than the fifth day of the following month, and the county commissioners may enter an order on the record journal empowering him so to do:  Provided, That if the board of county commissioners do not adopt the semi-monthly pay plan, they, by resolution, shall designate the first pay period as a draw day.  The draw day period shall be from the first day to the fifteenth day of the month, inclusive.  Not more than forty percent of said earned monthly salary of each such county officer or employee shall be paid to him on the draw day and the payroll deductions of such officer or employee shall not be deducted from the salary to be paid on the draw day.  The draw day shall not be later than the twentieth day of each month.  The balance of the earned monthly salary of each such officer or employee shall be paid not later than the fifth day of the following month.

            "In counties of eighth and ninth classes salaries shall be paid monthly unless the commissioners by resolution adopt the foregoing draw day procedure."  (Underscoring supplied.)

            It is to be noted that the only amendment of prior law (1953) made in this section are the provisions underscored above.  Under the 1953 act,supra, it was permissible for the county commissioners of any county to adopt the semimonthly pay plan (for county officers and employees) therein provided.  The recent amendment, by its terms, does nothing more than direct that in any county (other than those of the eighth and ninth classes) wherein the semimonthly pay plan has not been adopted, the board of county commissioners shall designate a draw day not later than the twentieth day of each month.  The provision of this amendatory act which gives rise to your question is the last sentence of the second paragraph which reads:

            "The balance of the earned monthly salary of each such officer or employee shall be paid not later than the fifth day of the following month."

            Section 2, chapter 48, Laws of 1893 (cf. RCW 36.22.050), provides:

            "No county auditor or clerk of the board of county commissioners shall issue any county warrant within less than ten days from and after the date of the allowance of such warrant."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            You point out that such county road crews are paid a salary which cannot be determined until the end of the month.  Hence, a conflict between the above quoted section of the 1893 act and the 1959 amendatory act becomes apparent, because time would not permit the county auditor to hold the warrant for ten days after its allowance and still deliver it "not later than the fifth day of the following month."

            InState ex rel. Dahlquist v. Van Wyck, 20 Wash. 39, 47, 54 Pac. 768 (1898), our supreme court considered a specific statute relating to construction contracts in connection with § 2, chapter 48, Laws of 1893,supra.  In concluding its opinion the court said:

            ". . . It seems to have been considered by counsel that the respondent had no right to issue these warrants within less than ten days from the time of the filing of the certificate of the board of construction, by reason of a general act of the legislature declaring that no county auditor or clerk of the board of county commissioners shall issue any county warrant within less than ten days from and after the date of the allowance of such order, approved March 7, 1893 (Laws 1893, p. 76, Bal. Code, § 394).  But we think that this view is incorrect, and that it was the duty of the respondent to issue them without delay.  The statute, as we have seen, provides that he shall 'thereupon' draw a warrant on the county treasurer, which means, not within ten days, but, according to Webster, 'immediately; at once; without delay.'  See Webster's International Dictionary.  This, being a later provision than the general act, must prevail."

            Based upon this supreme court decision, and by analogy thereto, we conclude that in so far as the provisions of chapter 300, Laws of 1959, (aspecial act relating "to the payment of salaries of county officers and employees") are in conflict with § 2, chapter 48, Laws of 1893, (a general act, relating "to county, school, city and town warrants, and the manner of their payment"), the latter is superseded by the former.  We therefore conclude that it is incumbent upon the appropriate county officers to effectuate the provisions of the 1959 amendatory act, notwithstanding the pertinent section of the 1893 act above quoted.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ROBERT J. HALL
Assistant Attorney General

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