Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1994 NO. 20 > Nov 17 1994

1.  A board of freeholders elected pursuant to article 11, section 16 of the Washington Constitution to draft and present a proposed city-county charter may not instead draft a charter relating to the county only.  2.  The state constitution requires that a city-county charter specifically provide for the legal status of cities within the new government's territory, and grants broad discretion to the voters in defining which, if any, of the powers and duties of existing cities would continue or change after adoption of a city-county charter.  3.  Cities remaining in existence in a city-county operating under a city-county charter retain authority to annex territory, only if and only to the extent that the charter grants such authority.  4.  All of the voters of a county may vote on the adoption of a proposed city-county charter, including those residing within any incorporated cities in the county.  5.  A board of freeholders lacks authority to use public funds or property to advocate or promote adoption of a city-county charter after it has been drafted and submitted pursuant to the constitution; however, the acts of soliciting and recording public opinion, drafting, debating, deliberating, selecting options, and submitting a charter to the county are all specifically implied by the freeholders' constitutional role and do not constitute an unlawful use of public property.