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Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1955 No. 49 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Regional Libraries ‑- terms of contribution to costs shall be governed by the contract between participating governmental units.

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                                                                  March 30, 1955

Honorable Maryan E. Reynolds
State Librarian
Temple of Justice
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 49

Dear Miss Reynolds:

            In your letter of March 10, 1955, previously acknowledged, you have requested our opinion on the obligation of one of the contracting parties to an agreement establishing a regional library under the provisions of RCW 27.12.080 (section 5, chapter 65, Laws of 1941) to include ‑ we presume in addition to the millage agreed to ‑ a share of certain federal funds received by said party because of the existence of a housing project within its corporate limits.

            Our answer is in the negative.


            The statute in question, set forth as follows,

            "Two or more governmental units may join in establishing and maintaining a regional library through a joint written agreement of their legislative bodies.  The agreement must provide for the apportionment of the expenses, and that the treasurer of one of the participating units shall have custody of the funds of the library.  The treasurers of the other participating  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] governmental units shall transfer to the one who has been selected as treasurer for the library, all moneys collected for public library purposes in their governmental units.  If the legislative body of any one of the participating governmental units decides to withdraw from a regional library contract, the withdrawing governmental unit shall be entitled to a division of the property on the basis of its contributions."  (Emphasis supplied)

            is mandatory in its terms with regard to the establishment of the financial responsibility of the contracting parties.

            The costs of such library are to be apportioned between the two or more governmental units in accordance with the terms of an agreement or contract entered into by the parties.

            If this contract provides that each party is obligated to assess the taxable property within its boundaries on an "equal millage basis" such contract is binding on both.  If the contract provides the "city" shall contribute other funds ‑ such as a part of the federal "in lieu of tax" funds ‑ that provision is also binding.  Unless the contract between the two or more governmental agencies as to the apportionment of costs so provides the "city" is not obligated to pay more than the agreed millage.

            It is noted that the parties to such an agreement may, if it is found mutually desirable, amend the terms of their agreement.  It is further noted that either party to the agreement may withdraw therefrom and, in the event it so elects, shall be entitled to a "division of the property on the basis of its contributions."

Yours very truly,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General