AG Opinions Important to Counties

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has issued two formal Attorney General Opinions (AGO) related to the operations of County Government that are very important to Washington’s Counties.

On March 13, 2017, in response to a request from Jay Weber, Executive Director for the County Road Administration Board, Attorney General Ferguson provided guidance related to participation in the Rural Arterial Program if a County chose to divert county road fund levy for certain general government functions.

The Attorney General concluded that:

Incarceration and coroner activities are not road purposes under article II, section 40. Costs related to prosecution, adjudication, and indigent defense of traffic offenses present a closer question, but it is most likely that these would also not be considered road purposes under the Washington Constitution and RCW 36.79.140.

AGO 2017 NO. 1

On March 20, 2017, Attorney General Ferguson issued AGO 2017 No. 3 in response to 14 questions posed by Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney James Nagle regarding the authorities of the County Sheriff and the Board of County Commissioners.

In general, the opinion expressed:

  • It is the role of the Board of County Commissioners to create new positions, budget for salaries, and establish the compensation for Sheriff Department positions.
  • It is the authority of the sheriff to establish job titles, position descriptions, and who to hire in the Sheriff’s Department.
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Eric Johnson has has served as the Executive Director of the Washington Association of Counties (WSAC) since 2008. Johnson, a former Lewis County Commissioner, has more than 25 years of public service at the local and state levels and most recently served as the Association’s Assistant Executive Director before being named as the Executive Director. The Washington State Association of Counties is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides its members research assistance, professional training, legislative advocacy, and a forum for discussing matters of common concern to counties. Members include the elected commissioners, executives and council members of Washington’s 39 counties.