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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 237 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


(1) The issuance of a deed to a city or town under RCW 35.49.150 need not be authorized by county commissioners.

(2) Cities and towns proceeding under this statute need not certify a statement of the amount of their assessment lien against the property involved to the county commissioners.

(3) The county treasurer will issue the deed when a city or town elects to proceed under this statute.

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                                                                   April 12, 1954

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
County City Building
Seattle, Washington                                                                                             Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 237

Attention:  K. G. Smiles, Chief Civil Deputy

Dear Sir:

            By your letter of April 2, 1954, you request our advice on the following questions:

            1. Under RCW 35.49.150 must the issuance of the deeds to cities and towns be authorized by the county commissioners?

            2. Under that act must the cities and towns certify to the county commissioners a statement of the amount of their assessment liens against the property involved?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            3. Who issues the deed when a city or town elects to proceed under this act?


            RCW 35.49.150 provides:

            "If property is struck off to or bid in by a county at a sale for general taxes, and is subject to local improvement assessments in any city or town, or has been taken over by the city or town on the foreclosure of local improvement assessments, the city or town may acquire the property from the county at any time before resale and receive a deed therefor upon paying the face of such taxes and costs, without penalty or interest."

            This statute is designed to permit cities to acquire title to such property as a protection against the destruction of the prior liens of junior taxing districts which would result from a resale and initiation of a new title.  Neither this section nor any other provision of the original act renders this power subject to the discretion or control of the county commissioners.  The statute vests in the city the authority to purchase such property for the amount of the tax plus costs, as a matter of right.  To subject this right to a preliminary review, or an exercise of discretion on the part of the board of county commissioners, would constitute a mitigation of the statutory right of those cities.  It is our opinion that the issuance of deeds under this statute need not be authorized by the county commissioners.

            2. The cities and towns need not certify to the county commissioners a statement of the amount of their assessment lien against the property involved.  There is no statutory requirement to this effect, and its only purpose insofar as we can ascertain would be to prove to the commissioners that such assessment liens were actually outstanding.  Since the commissioners have no authority in the matter, the certification of such a statement would be completely useless.  As far as any benefit to the officials who will actually issue the deed is concerned, they already have on their records the amount of these outstanding liens.  We see no purpose in such a certificate, nor any requirement therefor under the law.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            3. The treasurer would issue the deed to the city or town the same as he would issue any tax title deed if the resale had been consummated.  However, this deed would not initiate a new title but would be subject to certain statutory liens in favor of junior districts.

            The problem of the dedication of property to county use prior to the application of a city to purchase under this section, has not been raised, but we consider it worthy of notice.  The counties, of course, are presumably aware of this statute which gives cities the right to redeem prior to resale.  In any case where property located within the limits of an incorporated city or town is struck off to a county, the officials of such county would be well advised to consummate the resale prior to any actual application of such property to the county's use.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General