Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 343 - Nov 12 1954
Attorney General Don Eastvold


County commissioners may authorize payment of expenses of a deputy assessor in attending a technical school for purpose of training.

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                                                               November 12, 1954

Honorable James E. Duree
Prosecuting Attorney
Pacific County
South Bend, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 343

Dear Sir:

            By letter, as previously acknowledged, you have submitted the following facts:

            A deputy assessor of Pacific County attended a technical school for one week in Portland, Oregon, learning how to read aerial photographs taken in the timber lands of Pacific County for the purpose of acquiring technical skill in order to perform needed services for Pacific County.

            You request the opinion of this office on two questions, as follows:

            "1. Is it permissible for the board of county commissioners to pay his tuition expense while attending the school?

            "2. Is it permissible for the board of county commissioners to pay him for mileage for his trip down to this city in Oregon and also his meals cost and his hotel rooms while he is there?"

            In our opinion the answer to both of these questions is "Yes".


            RCW 36.17.010 provides as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The county officers of the counties of this state, according to their class, shall receive a salary for the services required of them by law, or by virtue of their office, which salary shall be full compensation for all services of every kind and description rendered by them."

            RCW 36.17.030 provides:

            "All county officers shall be entitled to their necessary reasonable traveling expenses in the performance of their official duties, bills therefor to be audited by the county commissioners: Provided, that when using their own cars they shall be allowed not to exceed eight cents per mile for each mile of necessary travel."

            Since RCW 36.16.070 provides that a deputy may perform any act which his principal is authorized to perform, the answer to your questions depends upon whether the deputy's attendance at the school was within the scope of the assessor's official acts.

            In an opinion of this office to the state auditor, dated January 31, 1946, a copy of which is attached, the general question of the authority of counties and municipalities to expend public funds to pay the expenses of employees on special trips arising out of their work but not being part of their official duties was analyzed.  It was the opinion of that writer that it was necessary to determine the propriety of such expenditures on the facts of each situation.  Specific reference was made to the case of a deputy sheriff who was selected to attend the FBI school in Washington, D.C., whose expense claim the county desired to pay.  The opinion was expressed that the county was authorized to defray the expense of a deputy sheriff to attend the FBI school.  We adhere to that opinion and we believe that the factual situation presented here is analogous thereto.

            By statute the county assessor is required to determine the values of land, improvements, and personal property within his county.  RCW 84.40.040.  The interpretation of aerial photographs is one of the recognized aids and checks in determining such valuations.  Under RCW 36.21.010 the assessor appoints, assigns and directs his assistants.  We believe this carries with it the duty to  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] train his assistants in the performance of the duties to which they are assigned.

            You are advised, therefore, that Pacific County is authorized to defray the expense of the deputy assessor to attend the technical school.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General