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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 234 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


County funds may be used to provide for space in the public health department for a dental clinic for children of medically indigent families who do not qualify for aid from the state medical aid or welfare fund.

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                                                                    April 6, 1954

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
County City Building
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                   Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 234

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of February 25, 1954, you submitted the following facts:

            The Seattle Post-Intelligencer donated from its Christmas Fund certain sums of money to the Seattle Parent-Teacher Board for Child Welfare.  The Board in turn made $17,300 of this money available to the committee on the School Children's Clinic.  This committee is composed of representatives of the Seattle Public Schools, the Parent-Teacher Board of Child Welfare, the Seattle‑King County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Seattle P-I Christmas Fund, the Seattle District Dental Society, the King County Medical Society and other interested parties.

            This committee desires to use the money to operate a clinic which would render dental services and limited medical services to Seattle Public School Children of medically indigent families who do not come under the State Medical Aid or Welfare Fund.  To effectuate this program the committee has requested the use of certain space, equipment and facilities and administration of the King County-City of Seattle Public Health Department.  These facilities are not being fully used at the present time.  The committee would pay for the dentists, assistants and supplies.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Based upon this fact pattern you have asked the following question:

            Can county funds be used for the above stated purpose in view of the fact that the legislature of the State of Washington has limited the county to a two-mill levy for welfare purposes?

            Your question may be answered in the affirmative.


            By virtue of RCW 74.04.150 1953 Supp. the state has superseded the counties in the matter of levying taxes for welfare purposes.  The state is now limited to a two mill levy and the counties do not make any special levy for welfare purposes.

            However, a further question is raised.  That is:  "May the county expend funds in the furtherance of the program herein proposed, in view of Art. VIII, Section 7 of the State Constitution, which reads as follows:

            "No county, city, town, or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money or property, or loan its money or credit to or in aid of any individual, association, company or corporation, except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm, * * *"

            We do not believe that this section of the constitution prohibits the program above proposed.

            Clearly, the county may conduct a public health program and all counties have done so for many years.  King County and the City of Seattle have a combined city-county health department pursuant to RCW 70.08.100.  The director of public health has the same powers as are vested by law in the county health officer (RCW 70.08.020).  The county health officer has supervision over all matters pertaining to the preservation of life and health of the people of his jurisdiction.  (RCW 70.06.030).  The purpose of the program put forward here seems definitely designed to preserve health and therefore is within the jurisdiction of the director of public health.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General