Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1952 No. 258 - Mar 12 1952
Attorney General Smith Troy


Legal, but not customary, for a school district to pay an architect's fee of six per cent of the total cost of labor and materials, including the sales tax.

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

                                                                    March 12, 1952 

Honorable James E. Duree
Prosecuting Attorney Pacific County
Raymond, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 258

 Dear Sir:

             According to your letter of February 14, 1952, the Raymond School District in Pacific County has entered into a contract to pay an architect a fee of six per cent of the cost of materials and labor.  The architect has expressed an opinion that the total cost of material and labor should include also the sales tax, and then his six per cent should be of that sum.  You have requested an opinion of this office on the following questions:

             (1) Is it legal for a school district to pay an architect's fee of six per cent of the total cost, including the sales tax, on materials and labor?

             (2) Is this a customary arrangement in considering architect's fees?

             Our conclusions are:

             (1) Six per cent of the amount of the sales tax may be paid to the architect, if the contract so provides.

             (2) Such arrangement is not customary.


             Under the provisions of section 4805, Rem. Rev. Stat., subdivision 6, a school district of the first class has authority to employ an architect and prescribe his duties and fix his compensation.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            And, in the case of Pehrson v. School District No. 334, 194 Wash. 334, our supreme court held that a school district has the power to enter into a contract with an architect.  The foregoing is ample authority for the directors to employ an architect and enter into a contract for his fee. The legislature has not limited the amount of the fee to be paid an architect, and it follows that if the terms of the contract provide that the architect should receive a fee based upon six per cent of the cost of labor and materials and also the amount of the sales tax, the contract would be legal.

             There is, however, another factor to be considered if the district receives state assistance if financing the school building construction project.  Under the regulations of the State Board of Education governing such state assistance, the board has limited the architects' fees to six per cent of the construction costs of the project determined on a competitive bid basis, and the six per cent does not apply to state sales tax computed on the taxable amount of the construction costs thus established.  Any payments to an architect in excess of aforesaid six per cent must be made exclusively from the local school district funds.  It is our understanding that all of the school districts receive state assistance for their school building projects and it is not customary for the architects' fees to include six per cent of the amount of the sales tax computed on the construction costs, since the school districts would necessarily pay such additional amount from district funds without state assistance.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General