Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1950 No. 325 - Aug 24 1950
Attorney General Smith Troy


There is no legal authority for the purchase and operation of summer camps by municipal corporations and private organizations jointly.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                 August 24, 1950

Recreation Division
State Parks and Recreation Commission
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                    Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 325

Attention:  !ttJames R. Huntley, Camping Consultant


            This is in answer to your letter of August 15, 1950, in which you request our opinion on the following:

            "We should like to request an opinion as to whether or not under Chapter 97, Session Laws of 1949 or any other statute in effect, a sub‑division [[subdivision]]of government may act in cooperation with, make a contractual agreement with, and pool funds with private organizations.  As a specific example, would it be possible for the Seattle Public Schools to pool funds with the Seattle King County Community Chest, purchase and operate a summer camp jointly?"

            Our conclusion is as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            A summer camp jointly purchased and operated by a municipal corporation and a private organization is not authorized by law.


            Chapter 97, Laws of 1949 (§ 9319-9321 Rem. Supp. 1949) authorizes that certain municipal corporations and public agencies, including school districts, may purchase and operate various types of camps and other recreational facilities, either singly or jointly with other such agencies.

            Section 2 of this act reads as follows:

            "Any city, park district, school district, county or town shall have power to enter into any contract in writing with any organization or organizations referred to in this act for the purpose of conducting a recreation program or exercising any other power granted by this act.  In the conduct of such recreation program property or facilities owned by any individual, group or organization, whether public or private, may be utilized by consent of the owner."

            We believe a proper construction of this section is that the contracting power therein referred to is limited to contracts among the organizations mentioned in section 1, namely:

            "Any city in this state acting through its City Council, or its Board of Park Commissioners when authorized by charter or ordinance, any separately organized park district acting through its Board of Park Commissioners or other governing officers, any school district acting through its Board of School Directors, any county acting through its Board of County Commissioners, and any town acting through its City  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] Council shall have power, acting independently or in conjunction with the United States, the State of Washington, any county, city, park district, school district or town or any number of such public organizations * * *"

            Should section 2 be construed to mean that the above named organizations are authorized to contract with a private organization for joint ownership and operation, it would clearly be in violation of Article VIII, section 7 of our state constitution, which reads as follows:

            "No county, city, town, or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money or property, or loan its money or credit, to or in aid of any individual, association, company, or corporation, except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm, or become directly or indirectly the owner of any stock in or bonds of any association, company, or corporation."

            The same conclusion was reached in an opinion of this office rendered to the Division of Municipal Corporations on April 27, 1928.  In that instance it was proposed that a park district join with the American Legion in constructing and maintaining a hall for the use of both organizations.

            This opinion is not to be construed as forbidding municipal corporations from accepting donations from private organizations or agreements by which such organizations may use public recreation facilities.  We state only that there must be no pooling of private funds for the purpose of joint ownership and operation.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General