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Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1951 No. 20 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


A county may, by gift, transfer to a port district, authorized to acquire and operate a municipally owned airport, without financial consideration and with the consent of the donor municipal corporation.

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                                                                   April 20, 1951

Honorable Howard V. Doherty
Prosecuting Attorney
Clallam County
205 Kuppler Building
Port Angeles, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 20

Dear Sir:

            We acknowledge receipt of your request for an opinion of this office in which you ask whether Clallam County has authority to make a transfer of the county owned airport to the port of Port Angeles without any financial consideration or other authority.

            Our conclusions are that a county may, by gift, transfer property, including an airport, to a port district authorized to acquire and operate a municipally owned airport, without financial consideration and with the consent of the donor municipal corporation.


            You have stated that the county commissioners of Clallam County and the commissioners of the port district known as the port of Port Angeles, have mutually agreed to effect a transfer of the Clallam County airport from the county to the port district without financial consideration in the belief that the port district can, through its advantage in making tax levies for airport purposes, handle the airport for its betterment.

            Although we have not, to date, advised as to the transfer of an entire airport from one municipal corporation to another, both of which are authorized to own and operate such projects, we have advised by an opinion of this office  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] dated April 4, 1948, to Representative Warren Poyhonen that a city may make a considerable gift of money to a county for the improvement of the county owned airport; we have held a city and a county may own and operate jointly such an airport and may establish a joint fund to operate the same by opinion dated April 11, 1945, addressed to the state auditor; and we have further held under the older law governing municipally owned airports, by an opinion dated October 2, 1939, and addressed to the prosecuting attorney of Whitman County, that, as cities and counties are authorized to spend money for public purposes and an airport is a public purpose, it would be proper for a county to contribute funds for the improvement of a county owned airport.

            It will be noted that under the general authority of subdivision 1, section 2, chapter 182, Laws of 1945 (subdivision 1, section 2722-31 Rem. Supp. 1945) every municipal corporation, through its governing body may acquire property, real or personal, to establish and operate an airport, but may not take over an airport owned by another municipal corporation without its consent.  Under Subdivision 2 the property may be acquired by gift as well as by purchase or otherwise.

            Under section 3, chapter 182, Laws of 1945, supra, (section 2722-32 Rem. Supp. 1945) the acquisition and operation is declared to be a public purpose.  Inasmuch as it appears that such municipal corporations may give money or property, it would therefore, appear that although no specific authority to dispose of an airport, including the real property thereon located, except from the implication of consideration being required in subdivisions 6 and 8 of the act, a county may give an airport, both its real and personal property, under the general law, and since it is for a declared public purpose, may do so without consideration providing its governing body, in the instant case the county commissioners, resolves that it is for the best interests of the airport and of the county and with the assurances that the city and its inhabitants will enjoy full use thereof.  Such a gift would not controvert Article VIII, section 7 of the constitution of Washington as the transfer and benefit would be to another municipal corporation and for a public purpose.

            We have not been advised whether the airport, through the county, has any commitments with the federal government or any agency thereof, and express no opinion as to any such obligations or commitments that may exist.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General