Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1953 No. 478 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


County commissioners may, under the general authority granted by RCW 36.75.020, to improve, maintain, etc., county roads, enter into any and all contracts necessary to the proper performance of their functions.

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                                                                 February 4, 1953 

Honorable Tom A. Durham
Prosecuting Attorney
Whatcom County
Bellingham, Washington                                                                                                            Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 478

 Dear Sir:

             We acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 23, 1953, in which you request our opinion on the question whether Whatcom county may contract with a foreign corporation to procure a rock crusher to do some road work at Point Roberts, in view of the fact that weight limitations prevent taking the county rock crusher over Canadian highways.

             Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

             County commissioners may, under the general authority to improve, maintain, etc., county roads granted by RCW 36.75.020, enter into any and all contracts necessary to the proper performance of their functions.


             RCW 36.75.020 authorizes the board of county commissioners, among other things, to maintain and repair county roads.  Under RCW 36.75.050 the county road engineer is given supervision and direction over these activities of the commissioners. RCW 36.80.060 provides that the engineer is to maintain records of amounts chargeable to equipment rental.  This provision would seem to imply  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] authority to rent equipment necessary for the performance of the functions of the road engineer.  RCW 36.82.220, which authorizes each county in the state to rent out equipment "to any other county," etc., would seem to imply that a county may also be lessee of any and all equipment necessary to the performance of its functions.

            Furthermore, considering RCW 36.82.100, authorizing the purchase of road equipment, including rock crushers, it would seem to follow that if the county rock crushers cannot reach an isolated portion of the county, authority to rent one that can operate there will be implied.

             The board of county commissioners, being the financial agent of the county, has authority to "make all necessary and lawful contracts" 14 Am.Jur., 200 (§ 28, Counties).  General contractual power, including implied powers necessarily incident to express powers, is vested in the board.  14 Am.Jur., 209 (§ 40, Counties).

             In view of the statutory provisions and citations set forth,supra, we are of the opinion that Whatcom county may contract for the rental of a rock crusher from a Canadian firm.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General