State v. King County

Decision Date01 March 1907
Citation88 P. 935,45 Wash. 519
PartiesSTATE ex rel. POTTER et al. v. KING COUNTY et al.
CourtWashington Supreme Court

Appeal from Superior Court, King County; R. B. Albertson, Judge.

Taxpayers' action by the state, on relation of M. L. Potter and others against King county and others to restrain the issuance of certain county bonds. From a decree in favor of defendants relators appeal. Reversed.

Shepard & Flett, for appellant.

Kenneth Mackintosh and Ernest B. Herald, for respondents.

John H Powell and E. F. Blaine, for interveners.


By the act of June 11, 1906, the consent of Congress was granted to James A. Moore, or his assigns, to construct a ship canal along the government right of way, connecting the waters of Puget Sound with Lake Washington, subject to all the provisions and requirements of said act. Act June 11, 1906, c. 3072, 34 Stat. 231. After the passage and approval of this act the defendant Moore proposed to the board of county commissioners of King county that if the county would aid in the acquisition by the United States of the completed canal, and vote and issue, for county purposes, its negotiable coupon bonds, to the amount of $500,000, made payable to himself or bearer, and place the same in escrow, conditioned that such bonds, or cash to the amount of the principal thereof, should be delivered to him or his order upon the full completion of said canal, and the approval and acceptance thereof by the United States, in accordance with the terms of the act of Congress, he would forthwith undertake the construction of the canal, and do and perform all things necessary to fully complete the same. On the 10th day of August, 1906, the board of county commissioners adopted a resolution, reciting the above proposal, calling a special election, and submitting to the voters of King county 'the question as to whether the county commissioners should be authorized to issue the negotiable coupon bonds of said county, to the amount of $500,000 in denominations of one thousand dollars ($1,000) each, payable to James A. Moore or bearer, 20 years after date of issue, with interest at the rate of 4 per cent. per annum, payable annually, said bonds to be deposited in escrow with the National Bank of Commerce of Seattle, king county, Washington, conditioned that said bonds, or cash equal to the principal thereof, at the option of the county commissioners, shall be delivered to the said Moore, or his order, upon the full completion and acceptance of said canal, in accordance with the provisions of said act of Congress, and any act or acts of Congress amendatory thereof, and, as in this resolution set forth, said completion and acceptance to be evidenced by a certificate to that effect by the government engineer in charge and the Secretary of War that the waters of Lake Washington have been lowered not less than seven feet from their present mean level, provided, that, if the commissioners shall elect to deliver said bonds in the manner aforesaid, then all accumulated interest from date of issue to date of such delivery shall be credited thereon.' A special election was held pursuant to this resolution on the 12th day of September, 1906, and more than three-fifths of the voters voting thereat voted in favor of the bond issue. This action was thereupon brought by certain taxpayers of the county against the board of county commissioners, the county auditor, and the payee named in the proposed bonds to enjoin their issuance. Certain other taxpayers intervened in the action and prayed for similar relief. It is unnecessary to set forth the avernments of the respective complaints further than to state that the validity of the proposed bonds was assailed on the following grounds: (1) That no power has been conferred on King county by the Legislature authorizing the issuance of bonds for any such purpose. (2) That the issuance of the bonds will be in violation of section 7 of article 8 of the state Constitution, which reads: 'No county, city, town or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money or property, or loan its money or credit, to or in aid of any individual, association, company, or corporation, except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm, or become directly or indirectly owner of any stock or bonds of any association, company, or corporations.' (3) That the style and form of the bonds, and the disposition of the bonds or their proceeds, as proposed, are not in conformity with the statute. The court below sustained demurrers to the complaints, and the plaintiffs and interveners electing to stand on their pleadings and refusing to plead further, a judgment of dismissal was entered. From this judgment the present appeal is prosecuted.

'Counties, cities, and towns are municipal corporations, created by the authority of the Legislature, and they derive all their powers from the source of their creation, except where the Constitution of the state otherwise provides. Beyond doubt, they are, in general, made bodies politic and corporate; and are usually invested with certain subordinate legislative powers, to facilitate the due administration of their own internal affairs, and to promote the general welfare of the municipality. They have no inherent jurisdiction to make laws, or to adopt governmental regulations; nor can they exercise any other powers in that regard than such as are expressly or impliedly derived from their charters, or other statutes of the state.' Laramie County v. Albany County, 92 U.S. 307, 23 L.Ed. 552. The only legislative authority for the bonds in question is the act of March 22, 1890 (Laws 1889-90, p. 37). The second and third sections of the act are as follows:

'Sec. 2. That each and every organized, or hereafter to be organized, county of this state may contract indebtedness for strictly county purposes in excess of the amount named in the preceding section [1 1/2 per centum], but not exceeding in amount, together with the existing indebtedness, five (5) per centum of the taxable property, to be ascertained as provided in the preceding section, whenever three-fifths (3/5) of the voters of such county assent thereto, at an election to be held for that purpose, consistent with the general election laws, which election may be either a special or a general election.
'Sec. 3. Whenever any debt is incurred under the provisions of sections one or two of this act, or whenever the board of commissioners of any county shall submit to the voters of this county, at an election to be held under the provisions of section two of this act, the question of issuing bonds to procure money for

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9 cases
  • Lewis v. Leon County
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • January 23, 1926
    ... ... by Leon county, as petitioner, under Rev. Gen. St. 1920, §§ ... 3296-3301, to validate certain bonds, opposed by the State, ... in which George Lewis and others, taxpayers and citizens of ... Leon county, intervened. From a final decree overruling ... interveners' ... this country the policy, prevailing under that law in the ... British Isles, where they called them 'the king's ... highways,' of leaving the care and upkeep of roads, ... highways, and bridges, and the expense thereof, [91 Fla. 127] ... to the local ... ...
  • Thurston v. Greco
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • September 24, 1970
    ...minorities, for the protection of posterity, and to protect majorities against their own improvidence.' State ex rel. Potter v. King County, 45 Wash. 519, 528, 88 P. 935, 938 (1907). See also Raynor v. King County, 2 Wash.2d 199, 208, 97 P.2d 696 (1940). However, these purposes are extremel......
  • In re Bond Issuance of Greater Wenatchee Reg'l Events Ctr. Pub. Facilities Dist.
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • October 25, 2012
    ...barrier” around the public treasury. State ex rel. Jones v. McGraw, 12 Wash. 541, 543, 41 P. 893 (1895); State ex rel. Potter v. King County, 45 Wash. 519, 528, 88 P. 935 (1907) (debt limits “are intended for the protection of minorities, for the protection of posterity, and to protect majo......
  • Anderson v. O'Brien
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • July 11, 1974
    ...legitimate purpose. State ex rel. O'Connell v. Port of Seattle, 65 Wash.2d 801, 399 P.2d 623 (1965). In State ex rel. Potter v. King County, 45 Wash. 519, 88 P. 935 (1907), in an opinion by Rudkin, J., this court held invalid negotiable bonds issued by an overwhelming vote of the people of ......
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