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AGO 1956 No. 345 - November 26, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


It is not mandatory to call for bids, advertise for a call for bids, and accept the lowest bid in the purchase of an auto for the officers of a third class county.

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                                                               November 26, 1956

Honorable Walter J. Deierlein, Jr.
Prosecuting Attorney
Skagit County
Mount Vernon, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 345

Dear Sir:

            You requested an opinion of this office on the following question:

            "Is it mandatory to issue a call for bids, advertise for a call for bids, and accept the lowest bid in the purchase of an automobile for the probation officer of a third-class county, the prosecuting attorney of a third-class county, or the sheriff of a third-class county?"

            We answer your question in the negative.


            Your letter indicated confusion on your part after attempting to reconcile AGO 53-55 No. 301 [[to H. A. Henry, Prosecuting Attorney, Thurston County on August 17, 1954]], AGO 51-53 No. 259 [[to R. A. Swanson, Prosecuting Attorney, Thurston County on March 14, 1952]], and an opinion dated May 28, 1946, to John T. Welsh, all relating to this question.

            The question raised in AGO 51-53 No. 259 [[to R. A. Swanson, Prosecuting Attorney, Thurston County on March 14, 1952]]was "whether or not, in view of the provisions and inferences to be drawn from section 6, chapter 254, Laws of 1945, it is necessary to call for bids on the purchase of new vehicles for the sheriff's department."

            Said opinion held:

            "Section 1, chapter 254, Laws of 1945, excludes from the requirement of public hearings and bids the disposal and purchase of county personal property in the possession of the sheriff and not within the jurisdiction of the county commissioners."

            Opinion 53-55 No. 301 [[to H. A. Henry, Prosecuting Attorney, Thurston County on August 17, 1954]], in overruling the aforementioned opinion, stated:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            ". . . It is our opinion that county property furnished to the sheriff for use in performing his official duties remains within the control of the county commissioners and is subject to the provisions of chapter 254, Laws of 1945 (RCW 36.34)."

            The opinion to John T. Welsh answered the question of whether it was necessary for the sheriff of a fifth class county to advertise for bids when trading in an old automobile for a new one.  In discussing the effect of RCW 36.34.070 (§ 6, chapter 254, Laws of 1945) on such a transaction, we said:

            "The section last quoted [§ 6, chapter 254, Laws of 1945] prescribes the procedure to be followed if the board in purchasing the new equipment calls for bids.  However, there is no requirement that the sheriff of a county of the fifth class call for bid in the purchase of new equipment.  Since invitations to bid for the purchase of new property are not required, the procedure set forth for the disposal of the old if such bids are called for is not applicable. . . ."

            The provisions of RCW 36.32.240, as amended, and 36.32.250 (§§ 1 and 2 chapter 61, Laws of 1945), pertain to county purchasing, and specifically require county commissioners of class A and first class counties to "purchase on a competitive basis all supplies, materials, and equipment, for all departments of the county."  Particular reference to these two county classifications necessarily excludes all lower class counties from compliance with said bid requirements.

            Chapter 254, Laws of 1945, pertains primarily to the disposal of county property and sets out certain bid provisions and exceptions in §§ 1-5 which apply to all counties.

            Section 6 provides two methods for the sale of used equipment by county commissioners: (1) In the manner prescribed for the sale of county property under §§ 1-5; or (2) by trading in the old equipment on the purchase of new equipment.  This second alternative provides further:

            ". . . If the Board elects to trade in the used equipmentit shall include in its call for bids on the new equipment a notice that the county has for sale or trade‑in used equipment of a specified type and description which will be sold or traded in on the same day and hour that the bids on the new equipment are opened. . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

            The language of § 6 pertaining to the second alternative might be construed to conflict with the provisions of RCW 34.32.240 and 34.32.250 (§§ 1 and 2, chapter 61, Laws of 1945), since chapter 254 refers to all counties, and RCW 34.32.240 and 34.32.250 require bidding by only class A and first class counties. Chapter 254 is a later enactment than chapter 61 by three days but:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "Repeals by implication are ordinarily not favored in law, and a later act will not operate to repeal an earlier act except in such instances where the later act covers the entire subject matter of the earlier legislation, is complete in itself, and is evidently intended to supersede the prior legislation on the subject, or unless the two acts are so clearly inconsistent with, and repugnant to, each other that they cannot, by a fair and reasonable construction, be reconciled and both given effect. . . ."Abel v. Diking & Drainage Improvement District No. 4, 19 Wn. (2d) 356.

            See alsoState ex rel. Spokane & Eastern Branch of the Seattle First National Bank v. Justice Court, 189 Wash. 87, and State ex rel. Reed v. Spanaway Water District, 38 Wn. (2d) 393.

            It is our opinion that these two acts may be reconciled by excluding from the coverage of the second alternative of § 6, chapter 254, all counties which do not have to comply with the bid requirements for the purchase of all supplies, materials and equipment under the terms of RCW 34.32.240 and 34.32.250.  That is, the "trade‑in" clause of § 6, chapter 254, refers only to class A and first class counties.

            Therefore, your county may proceed with its purchases according to the manner set out in our opinion to John T. Welsh.

            We hope this will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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