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AGO 1957 No. 6 - January 25, 1957
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

LIBRARY FUNDS -- EXPENDITURE -- COUNTIES

If rural county library funds are accumulated according to the provisions of RCW 27.12.220, it is necessary at the time expenditure of such accumulated funds is desired that an item for such expenditure be included in the appropriate year's budget.  The trustees of a rural county library district may not declare an emergency for the purpose of expending funds not included in the annual budget, assuming the necessary funds of an emergency nature exist.

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                                                                 January 25, 1957

Honorable D. L. McMannis
Prosecuting Attorney
Whitman County
116 Spring Street
Colfax, Washington                                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 6

Attention:  Mr. Philip H. Faris, Deputy

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on certain questions which we paraphrase as follows:

            (1) If rural county library funds are accumulated according to the provisions of RCW 27.12.220, is it necessary at the time expenditure of such accumulated funds is desired, that an item for such expenditure be included in the appropriate year's budget?

            (2) If so, what forms and procedures should be used at the time of making such budget?

            (3) May the trustees of a rural county library district declare an emergency for the purpose of expending funds not included in the annual budget, assuming the necessary facts of an emergency nature exist?

            (4) If so, what procedure should be followed?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We answer the first question in the affirmative and the third question in the negative.  In answer to the second question, there are no statutory requirements as to forms and procedures.  The fourth question is moot.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 27.12.220 provides as follows:

            "The trustees of any rural county library district or any intercounty rural library district may include in the annual budget of such district an item for the accumulation during the year of a specified sum of money to be expended in a future year for the acquisition, enlargement, or improvement of real or personal property for library purposes."

            A "rural county library district" is a quasi county office by virtue of the definition given it in RCW 27.12.010 (5), ". . . a district serving all the area of a county not included within the area of incorporated cities and towns;" and also because of the unique structure and powers granted the board of trustees and county commissioners under chapter 27.12 RCW.

            RCW 27.12.240 places the authority for determining the necessary appropriations to carry on the functions of a rural county library district with the board of library trustees.  (The legislative body of the governmental unit of a rural county library district is the board of library trustees under RCW 27.12.010 (2).)

            The provisions of RCW 27.12.050 and 27.12.210 (4) provide that the board of trustees submit its budget to the board of county commissioners which shall levy a tax on the property in the rural county library district sufficient to cover the theretofore submitted budget.

            RCW 27.12.210 (4) states that the board of trustees shall

            "Submit annually to the legislative body a budget containing estimates in detail of the amount of money necessary for the library for the ensuing year; except that in a rural county library district the board of library trustees shall prepare its budget, certify the same and deliver it to the board of county commissioners in ample time for it to make the tax levies for the purpose of the district;"

            The aforestated section specifically requires the budget to contain estimates in detail of the amount necessary for a rural county library district's ensuing year's operation.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            It is true that there is no requirement of a detailed statutory form of budget as is the case with true county offices and departments under the provisions of RCW 36.40.010 and 36.40.030, but nevertheless by virtue of RCW 27.12.010 (4), not to mention compliance with sound methods of accounting, the library board's budget must be detailed.  This must necessarily mean that the budget should inform the board of county commissioners of the general classifications of expenditures, which, we believe, should include mention of the item for which appropriations were made pursuant to RCW 27.12.220.

            Referring now to the second question; we determined in answer to the first question that the only statutory requirement of the library budget is that it be detained.  Therefore, in determining what "forms and procedures should be used" the library commission should adopt a form and procedure that will make clear to the county commissioners for what purposes the budget appropriations were made.

            It is the suggestion of this office that for purposes of uniformity, the form of the budget comply with the form referred to in RCW 36.40.030.

            Directing attention to the third question, RCW 27.12.210 defines the powers and duties of a library board of trustees.  In order not to lengthen this letter unnecessarily, we will not set out the provisions of that statute, but will simply state that there is no provision or inference from any provision of said statute that would constitute authority for the board to declare an emergency for the purposes of making expenditures not included in the annual budget.  It is a well-established principle of municipal law that municipal authorities cannot exercise powers except those expressly granted, or those necessarily implied from granted powers.  And, if there is doubt as to whether the power is granted, it must be denied.  Pacific Etc. Ass'n v. Pierce County, 27 Wn. (2d) 347.

            This lack of authority by the library trustees to declare an emergency is further amplified by the last sentence of RCW 27.12.250:

            ". . . The board shall not make expenditures or incur indebtedness in any year in excess of the amount of money annually appropriated by the legislative body and available for library purposes."

            Our determination of the third question renders the last question moot.

            We hope this opinion will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General


DOUGLAS HARTWICH
Assistant Attorney General

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