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AGO 1950 No. 237 - March 21, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

TRANSFER OF SCHOOL DISTRICT FUNDS

School board may transfer funds on a temporary loan basis from the district's building fund to its general fund.

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                                                                  March 21, 1950

Honorable Patrick M. Steele
Prosecuting Attorney
Pierce County
Tacoma 3, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 237

Attention:  !ttValen H. Honeywell, Jr.
            Chief Civil Deputy

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on the following question: Can a school board transfer funds on a temporary loan basis from the district's building fund to its general fund for maintenance and operation purposes?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows: The school board can transfer such funds if it is done on a temporary basis and there are assurances that the funds will be repaid.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            In an opinion of February 3, 1937, directed to the Prosecuting Attorney of Walla Walla County, this office ruled that a school district might temporarily transfer surplus moneys from its transportation fund to its building fund.

            In an opinion of August 3, 1938, to the Grays Harbor County Prosecuting Attorney we held that a school district might borrow from the general fund for the use of the building fund.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            On September 1, 1943, this office directed an opinion to the Prosecuting Attorney of Yakima County holding that money accumulated in a school district's building fund might be transferred to the general fund where the district intended to temporarily abandon the building program.

            The building fund is derived from local taxation, or from special levies or bond issues authorized by the voters.  An appropriatetemporary use of surplus or inactive moneys in that fund for other purposes is not restricted by sections 2 or 3 of Article IX of the Washington State Constitution which are concerned with the Permanent School Fund and the revenues from the common school fund.

            Although the exact question has not been adjudicated, we have noted the cases you cite as having been relied upon in the past by school districts in King County as authority for a temporary transfer of moneys between solvent funds.  As you pointed out, the cases ofVon Herberg v. Seattle, 157 Wash. 141,Seymour v. Ellensburg, 81 Wash. 365; Scott v. Tacoma, 81 Wash. 178, and Griffin v. Tacoma, 49 Wash. 524, all involved a transfer of city funds.  Though not controlling as authorizing a transfer of school district moneys, they are persuasive as to whether a temporary loan is such a diversion of revenue as to come within the constitutional prohibition of sec. 5, Article VII, requiring that taxes be levied in pursuance of law, and the proceeds spent only for the purposes for which the tax was levied.

            Past administrative procedures are sometimes helpful in determining whether certain practices are permissible where they are not expressly or impliedly prohibited inasmuch as the legislature is presumed to acquiesce in the administrative procedures being followed unless some changes are made by the legislature.

            It is our opinion, therefore, that a school board may transfer funds on a temporary loan basis from various solvent funds, in this case from the building fund to the general fund for maintenance and operation purposes, if there are assurances that the borrowing fund can and will repay the borrowed moneys.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LAWRENCE K. McDONELL
Assistant Attorney General

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