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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1949 No. 145 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


Several townships do not have the authority to jointly purchase property located in one of them for their joint use as a garbage dump.

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                                                                October 14, 1949

Honorable Hugh H. Evans
Prosecuting Attorney
Spokane County Courthouse
Spokane 11, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 145

Dear Sir:

            We are in receipt of your letter of September 7, 1949, in which you ask the following question:

            May several townships jointly purchase property located in one of the townships to be maintained as a garbage dump for the use of the joint purchasers?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            The townships do not have authority to purchase such property.


            Section 12, chapter 175, Laws of 1895 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 11371), reads as follows:

            "No town shall possess or exercise any corporate powers except such as are enumerated in this title or are especially given by law or necessary to the exercise of the powers so enumerated or granted."

            Some of the powers of townships are set forth in section 11, chapter 175, Laws of 1895, as amended by section 1, chapter 47, Laws of 1909 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 11370), paragraph 2 of which authorizes each township to purchase lands within its own limits.  Without invoking the restriction of section 11371, supra, the ordinary principle of statutory interpretation that the mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another would preclude the township from purchasing lands located outside its own limits.  Section 11371 merely enunciates that principle more distinctly.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In addition to the powers enumerated in section 11370, section 50, chapter 175, Laws of 1895 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 11409), empowers the town's supervisors, acting as a board of health, to exercise all the powers necessary for the preservation of the public health and for the prevention and suppression of public nuisances.  The disposal of garbage is clearly a measure designed to preserve the public health and to prevent public nuisances.  However, we do not feel that the purchase of lands outside of a township is a power, necessary within the meaning of this statute, or necessary within the meaning of section 11371, to accomplish that purpose, without a demonstration that none of the enumerated powers could effectively accomplish the same.

            Thus the resolution of a conflict between the implied inhibition of paragraph 2, section 11370, and the police authority of section 11409, which would arise if the purchase of property outside the townships were a necessary means of effectuating that authority, is not now necessary.  Though in the event of such a conflict, the presumption of consistency between statutes would require the same result we have reached under the instant circumstances.

            Our conclusion being that several townships do not have the authority to jointly purchase property located in one of them for their joint use as a garbage dump, we will be very glad to discuss some alternate plan as suggested in your letter.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General