Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 2006 NO. 1 > Jan 12 2006

The governing bodies of special purpose districts lack authority to adopt motions or resolutions supporting or opposing ballot propositions. The Legislature has not granted such districts the authority to support or oppose ballot measures and, absent such authority, doing so would not constitute “normal and regular conduct.”

AGO 1953 NO. 2 > Apr 7 1953

Municipal corporations do not have the power to impose a business tax upon taverns and "H" licensed premises.

AGO 1982 NO. 2 > Jan 21 1982

(1)  When a city or other municipality which does not have its own electrical code as provided in RCW 19.28.360 installs, or causes to be installed by contract, electrical wiring to energize traffic control devices, street lights and other associated electrical apparatus, the installation is subject to inspection, as provided in RCW 19.28.210, by a state inspector.(2)  If the city, instead, does have its own electrical ordinance as provided in RCW 19.28.360, the installation is subject to an inspection by a locally authorized inspector of that city who must fully meet the qualifications for inspectors as provided in RCW 19.28.070.

AGO 1975 NO. 2 > Jan 31 1975

Retention or dissolution of existing municipal corporations upon formation of a city-county under Article XI, § 16 (Amendment 58) of state constitution; conditions applicable for the election of freeholders to frame a city-county charter; retention or nonretention of certain county elected officials; assumption of existing intergovernmental contracts by a newly formed city-county; ability of a city-county to make contracts under the interlocal cooperation act; power of a city-county to impose an income tax; eligibility of a city-county for state funds which are statutorily distributable to counties or cities; legality of a city-county two year zoning moratorium; retirement coverage for employees of a newly formed city-county.

AGO 1990 NO. 3 > Apr 26 1990

1.  A municipality that imposes a tax on its electric utility department pursuant to RCW 35.21.860 and [35.21].865 may measure the tax by the utility department's gross revenues, derived from the utility's customers located both inside and outside the city, so long as the tax is within constitutional limits. 2.  A municipality may not levy a tax on another municipality without express authority.  RCW 35.21.860 and [35.21].865 do not authorize one municipality to levy a tax on the electric utility department of another municipality.

AGO 2001 NO. 3 > Apr 23 2001

1.  Public utility districts and port districts lack authority to sell “excess capacity” telecommunications services to “end users”.  2.  RCW 54.16.330 and RCW 53.08.370 preclude public utility districts and port districts, respectively, from offering telecommunications services or facilities to “end users” under any circumstances.  3.  The Interlocal Cooperation Act, RCW 39.34, does not authorize public utility districts or port districts, through interlocal agreement, to offer telecommunications services or facilities to other governmental units where the other unit is an “end user” of such services or facilities.

AGO 1976 NO. 3 > Jan 21 1976

(1) Neither the state public disclosure law (chapter 42.17 RCW) nor any other statute prohibits or restricts a municipal corporation or political subdivision from employing a lobbyist to be registered as such in accordance with RCW 42.17.150; however, such a person may only be employed pursuant to specific legal authority to expend municipal funds for lobbying purposes ‑ either in the form of a state statute or, in the case of a first class or other charter city, code city or charter county, appropriate local legislation.  (2) Only a municipal corporation or political subdivision which is thus authorized to expend its funds for lobbying purposes may, in turn, authorize its officers or employees to appear and testify at municipal expense before a committee of the legislature in support of or opposition to proposed or pending legislation.  (3) Nothing in the state public disclosure law (chapter 42.17 RCW) purports to restrict the ability of any committee or member of the state legislature to seek information or opinions from officers or employees of a municipal corporation or political subdivision.

AGO 2009 NO. 4 > Jul 28 2009

The Legislature’s repeal of statutes authorizing the formation of water distribution districts for irrigation and governing their operation, without making provision for existing districts, resulted in the dissolution of existing districts.  Existing water distribution districts for irrigation were not reclassified as irrigation districts or water-sewer districts.

AGO 1988 NO. 4 > Feb 18 1988

1. A public agency may not, in procuring architectural or engineering services, consider proposed price or cost in determining which firm is most highly qualified to provide services. 2. When a public agency selects a firm to perform architectural or engineering services, price and cost may be considered only after the most qualified firm has been selected, at which time the law provides for negotiation of a "fair and reasonable" price.  

AGO 1997 NO. 5 > Oct 6 1997

1.When one government disposes of property to another government pursuant to chapter 39.33 RCW, RCW 43.09.210 requires that the transferring government receive "full value" for the transfer; "full value" has a flexible meaning depending on the circumstances of the transfer.2.RCW 39.33.020, which requires public notice and a hearing before a government disposes of property having a value of more than $50,000, applies only to intergovernmental transfers of property made pursuant to chapter 39.33 RCW.

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