Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1976 No. 56 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


In the event of a proposal to disincorporate a city or town under chapter 35.07 RCW, there will be sufficient compliance with RCW 36.93.090 if the initiators of a petition for disincorporation file their notice of intent with the boundary review board having jurisdiction at the same time as they formally file the petition itself with the city or town council involved.

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                                                              September 15, 1976

Honorable James E. Carty
Prosecuting Attorney
P.O. Box 5000
Vancouver, Washington 98663                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1976 No. 56

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have directed our attention to chapter 35.07 RCW, relating to the disincorporation of certain municipal corporations, and to chapter 36.93 RCW pertaining to county boundary review boards.  You have then asked for our advice as to when, in the process of disincorporation, a notice of intention must be filed with such a boundary review board.

            We respond to this inquiry in the manner set forth in our analysis.


            RCW 36.93.090, which sets forth the basic jurisdiction of a county boundary review board established pursuant to the provisions of chapter 36.93 RCW, reads as follows:

            "Whenever any of the following described actions are proposed in a county in which a board has been established, the initiators of the action shall file a notice of intention with the board, which may review any such proposed actions pertaining to:

            "(1) The creation, dissolution, incorporation, disincorporation, consolidation, or change in the boundary of any city, town, or special purpose district; or

            "(2) The assumption by any city or town of all or part of the assets, facilities, or indebtedness of a special purpose district which lies partially within such city or town; or

            "(3) The establishment of or change in the boundaries of a mutual water and sewer system or separate sewer system by a water  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] district pursuant to RCW 57.08.065; or

            "(4) The extension of permanent water or sewer service outside of its existing corporate boundaries by a city, town, or special purpose district."

            Thus, clearly, a boundary review board does have jurisdiction over a proposed municipal disincorporation.  With this in mind we turn, next, to chapter 35.07 RCW.  The first section of this chapter, RCW 35.07.010, provides that:

            "Cities of the third class and towns having a population of less than four thousand inhabitants may disincorporate."

            RCW 35.07.020 then says that:

            "The petition for disincorporation must be signed by a majority of the registered voters thereof and filed with the city or town council."

            Next to be noted is RCW 35.07.030, which reads as follows:

            "Upon the filing of the petition, the council shall appoint a suitable person to make an enumeration of the inhabitants of the municipality unless an enumeration has been made for the city or town, county, state, or the United States within six months next preceding the filing of the petition showing the city's or town's population to be less than four thousand.  An enumeration made hereunder, unless impeached for fraud, shall be conclusive."

            RCW 35.07.040 then provides that:

            "If the applicable census shows a population of less than four thousand, the council shall cause an election to be called upon the proposition of disincorporation.  If the city or town has any indebtedness or outstanding liabilities, it shall order the election of a receiver at the same time."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            RCW 35.07.050 then indicates that notice of such election is to be given ". . . as provided in RCW 29.27.080" ‑ following which RCW 35.07.060 says that:

            "The ballots for the election shall be printed at the expense of the municipality and there shall be printed thereon the words 'for dissolution' in one line and the words 'against dissolution' in another line and in other and separate lines, the names of each of the lawfully nominated candidates for receiver.  In all other respects the ballots shall be in conformity with the law regulating elections in such cities and towns."

            RCW 35.07.070 ‑ 35.07.080 then deal with the mechanics of the election itself and the remaining pertinent sections of the chapter (RCW 35.07.090 ‑ 35.07.220) cover the ensuing procedures to be followed in the event of an affirmative vote in favor of disincorporation.

            Reading these statutes in chapter 35.07 RCW in the light of RCW 36.93.090,supra, it would appear to us that the "initiators" of disincorporation are the signers of the petition referred to in RCW 35.07.020.  Prior to the time that such a petition has been signed by the requisite number of registered voters and filed with the city or town council, however, it is of no legal force or effect in terms of actually causing disincorporation proceedings to be commenced by the city council.  Therefore, we would think that it would be sufficient, under RCW 36.93.090, for the initiators of a petition for disincorporation to file their "notice of intent" with the boundary review board having jurisdiction at the same time as they formally file the petition itself with the city or town council involved.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General