Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1957 No. 108 - August 08, 1957
AGO Opinion Header Image
John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


INTERGOVERNMENTAL SALES BY COUNTY COMMISSIONER BOARDS.

County commissioner boards may dispose of county property to another political subdivision of the state without the necessity of obtaining a superior court decree declaring the property to be surplus.

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

                                                                  August 8, 1957

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney of King County
County City Building
Seattle, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 108

Attention:  Mr. K. G. Smiles, Chief Civil Deputy

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your request for an opinion concerning whether or not county commissioners are legally authorized to dispose of county property to another governmental unit without the necessity for a decree of the superior court that such property is surplus or excess to the counties' needs.

            Your question is answered in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The statutes involved in your question are as follows:

            RCW 36.34.130

            "The board of county commissioners may dispose of county property to another governmental agency and may acquire property for the county from another governmental agency by means of private negotiation upon such terms as may be agreed upon and for such consideration as may be deemed by the board of county  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] commissioners to be adequate."  (§ 12, chapter 254, Laws of 1945)

            RCW 39.33.010

            "Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the state or any municipality or any political subdivision thereof, may sell, transfer, exchange, lease or otherwise dispose of any property, real or personal, or property rights, including but not limited to the title to real property, to the state or any municipality or any political subdivision thereof on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon by the proper authorities of the state and/or the subdivisions concerned:  Provided, That such property is determined by decree of the superior court in the county where such property is located, after publication of notice of hearing is given as fixed and directed by such court, to be either necessary, or surplus or excess to the future foreseeable needs of the state or of such municipality or any political subdivision thereof concerned, which requests authority to transfer such property."  (§ 1, chapter 133, Laws of 1953)

            Your request for an opinion specifically asks for a reconsideration of an attorney general's opinion of July 14, 1953, (AGO 53-55 No. 90) to your office [[to Charles O. Carroll, Prosecuting Attorney, King County]], wherein it was held that RCW 39.33.010 modified the provisions of RCW 36.34.130 to the extent of adding a requirement that a superior court must find that the property is necessary or surplus or excess to the future foreseeable needs of the political subdivision concerned.

            The primary rule in construing statutes is to ascertain and give effect to legislative intention.  McKenzie v. Mukilteo Water District, 4 Wn. (2d) 103; Lynch v. State, 19 Wn. (2d) 802; Graffell v. Honeysuckle, 30 Wn. (2d) 390.  The enactment of RCW 39.33.010 evidences a legislative intent to simplify the transfer of property between the various political subdivisions of the state and to provide another procedure for the intergovernmental transfer of property.  There is no intent to make RCW 39.33.010 the exclusive method for intergovernmental transfers of property.

            The general rule is that amendments by implication are not favored, and a general statute will not be construed to amend a prior special statute dealing with the same subject unless the two are in conflict or the general act discloses that the special act is amended.  Erickson v. Perica, 113 Wash. 510;  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] Generaux v. Petit, 172 Wash. 132; State v. Becker, 39 Wn. (2d) 94.

            Since RCW 39.33.010 is a general statute applying to all political subdivisions of the state, it is therefore not inconsistent or incompatible with RCW 36.34.130 which specifically applies to a board of county commissioners, granting it an even simpler method of intergovernmental transfer of property.  Accordingly, we are hereby overruling the opinion of July 15, 1953 [[AGO 53-55 No. 90 to Charles O. Carroll, Prosecuting Attorney, King County on July 14, 1953]], to your office in which a contrary result was reached. a contrary result was reached.

            Our conclusion reached herein is consistent with our opinion of August 17, 1956, to the prosecuting attorney of Yakima County (AGO 55-57 No. 313) stating that RCW 39.33.010 does not amend RCW 47.12.040 so that a superior court must pass on a sale of property for highway purposes by a school district to the state of Washington.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

PAUL F. BONNELL
Assistant Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo