Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1952 No. 273 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


Expenses incurred by a county treasurer in performing the duties of his office as required by the statutes respecting irrigation districts may not be charged against said districts.

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                                                                  March 28, 1952 

Honorable Robert S. Campbell, Jr.
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 273

 Dear Sir:

             We wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of March 11, 1952, wherein you state:

             "The Grant County Treasurer has requested an opinion from you on the question whether or not expenses directly incurred for irrigation district, such as tax receipts, binder, assessment rolls, postage and mileage for transportation necessary to handle irrigation district, can be charged directly against the irrigation district, or whether this expense has to be borne by Grant County."

             Our conclusions may be summarized by stating that the expense incurred by a county treasurer in performing the duties of his office as required by the statutes respecting irrigation districts may not be charged against said district.


             The statutes respecting the formation of irrigation districts, Rem. Rev. Stat., § 7417 et. seq., set out in detail the duties of county treasurers in regard to irrigation districts.  Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp., § 7453, provides in part:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The county treasurer of the county in which is located the office of any irrigation district shall be and is hereby constituted ex-officio district treasurer of said district, and any county treasurer collecting or handling funds of the district shall be liable upon his official bond and to criminal prosecution for malfeasance and misfeasance, or failure to perform any duty herein prescribed as county treasurer or district treasurer, as is provided by law in other cases as county treasurer.  It shall be the duty of the county treasurer of each county, in which lands of the district are located, to collect and receipt for all assessments and taxes levied as in this chapter provided.  * * *"

             Nowhere in the statute respecting irrigation districts is provision made that such districts will defray the expense incurred by, and as the result of a county treasurer performing his duties as required by those statutes.  To the contrary, however, these statutes provide that a county treasurer shall perform for individuals certain duties for a fee; and the same duties shall be performed for the irrigation districts, but without a fee.

             Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp., § 7445, provides in part:

             "* * * the person who will take the least quantity of the land, or in case an undivided interest is assessed, then the smallest portion of the interest, and pay the assessment and costs due, including one dollar to the treasurer for duplicate of the certificate of sale, is the purchaser.  The Treasurer shall account to the district for said one dollar.  * * * if there is no purchaser in good faith when the property is offered thereafter for sale, the whole amount of the property assessed shall be struck off to the irrigation district as the purchaser, and the duplicate certificate shall be delivered to the secretary of the district, and filed by him in the office of the district.  No charge shall be made for the duplicate certificate where the district is the purchaser, * * *" (Emphasis supplied).

             Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp., § 7447 provides for the conditions under which a county treasurer shall issue and deliver a deed to land sold for delinquent assessments under the act.  In regard to the issuing of a deed, it is provided:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "* * * The Treasurer shall receive from the purchaser, for the use of the district, one dollar ($1.00) for making such deed: * * *" (Emphasis supplied).

             The board of directors of an irrigation district is required by section 7440 Rem. Supp. 1941, to deliver the annual assessment roll of the district to the county treasurer on or before the 15th day of January of each year, and when this is not done after notice as set out in the statute, it is provided:

             "* * * and said Board of County Commissioners shall cause an assessment roll for the said district to be prepared and shall equalize the same if necessary and make the levy required by this chapter in the same manner and with like effect as if the same had been equalized and made by the said Board of Directors, and all expenses incident thereto shall be borne by the district.  In case of neglect or refusal of the Secretary of the district to perform the duties imposed by law, then the Treasurer of the county in which the office of the Board of Directors is situated must perform such duties, and shall be accountable therefor, on his official bond, as in other cases."  (Emphasis supplied)

             It is our opinion that the above set out portions of the statutes respecting irrigation districts show clearly the legislative intent that the expense incident to the duties performed by county treasurers for irrigation districts shall not be borne by such districts.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General 

Assistant Attorney General