Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1953 No. 113 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


A first class city may not validly expend municipal funds for the maintenance of a lounge for the convenience of women shoppers.

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                                                                 August 14, 1953

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 113

Attention:  !ttMr. A. E. Hankins
            Chief Examiner

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter requesting the opinion of this office on the following question:

            Does a city of the first class have authority to expend municipal funds to defray the expenses of maintaining a women's lounge on privately owned premises?

            You indicate that the lounge facilities are located in a privately owned building and that the city council has been requested to provide $125.00 per month toward wages of attendants whose principal duties are to care for the children of shopping mothers.

            It is our conclusion that such an item may not be included in the budget.


            Chapter 35.21 RCW contains miscellaneous provisions affecting all cities and towns. RCW 35.22.280 lists under thirty-eight subsections the specific powers of first class cities.  RCW 35.22.290,et seq. provides additional powers to cities of the first class.  Careful examination of these statutes fails to disclose any express  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] or implied authority granted to cities to expend municipal funds for such a purpose.  InState ex rel. Port of Seattle v. Superior Court, 93 Wash. 267, at page 269, the court said:

            "* * * There can be no doubt that a corporation exercising powers of the state possesses only those powers expressly granted or such as are necessarily implied.  The general rule is stated by Dillon on Municipal Corporations, at § 89, as follows:

            "'It is a general and undisputed proposition of law that a municipal corporation possesses and can exercise the following powers, and no others: First, those granted in express words; second, those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted; third, those essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation,‑-not simply convenient, but indispensable.  Any fair, reasonable doubt concerning the existence of power is resolved by the courts against the corporation, and the power is denied . . .'"

            InFerrie v. Sweeney (Ohio Com. Pl.) 72 N.E. (2d) 128, it was held that the operation of day care centers for children of working mothers, irrespective of their ability to pay the cost thereof, involved an invalid expenditure of public funds for a private purpose.

            However, we do not wish to be understood as holding that a city cannot maintain suitable lounges or restrooms in connection with municipal facilities such as parks, playgrounds or public buildings.

            It is our conclusion that a first class city may not validly expend municipal funds for the maintenance of a lounge for the convenience of women shoppers.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General