This pages provides an overview of the statutes concerning the sale of surplus property by cities and towns in Washington State, including examples of local government codes and policies.
Cities and towns frequently need to sell or convey equipment or property which is no longer needed for municipal purposes. There are relatively few statutes concerning procedures for sale of surplus property. Cities and towns should be familiar with those listed in the Statutes section below.
- Basic authority to purchase and dispose of real estate and personal property:
- RCW 39.33.010 – Cities, towns and counties can sell or transfer property to other governmental entities "on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon." This statute permits transfer for less than value. See AGO 1997 No. 5 for how to harmonize this statute with RCW 43.09.210 which requires that a local government entity receive "full value" when there is an intergovernmental transfer of property.
- RCW 39.33.020 – This statute requires that a public hearing be held if the value of the property being surplussed exceeds $50,000. MRSC has interpreted this statute as only applying when property is sold or conveyed to another governmental entity. The statute includes timing and notice provisions.
- RCW 35.94.040 – This statute requires that a public hearing be held if property (real estate or personal property) originally purchased for utility purposes is no longer needed for that use and the city desires to lease, sell or convey the property. A hearing is required regardless of the value of the property.
- RCW 42.30.110(1)(c) – Cities and towns can discuss in executive session the minimum price at which it will sell a particular parcel of real estate if public knowledge regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of decreased price. This statute enables the council to provide negotiation direction and flexibility to the person delegated to sell real estate.
- RCW 42.56.260 – This statute exempts from public disclosure real estate appraisals obtained by the city prior to completion of a sale of the property.
- RCW 43.09.210 – This statute requires that a local government entity receive "full value" when there is an intergovernmental transfer of property. See AGO 1997 No. 5 which concludes that the concept of "full value" is flexible, depending on the facts.
- Ch. 35.94 RCW – If a city or town wishes to sell or lease a public utility, or portions of the utility, it can do so by following the procedures in this chapter. Bids are required, and the council must approve the sale by a two-thirds vote, followed by submitting the issue to the voters.
Examples of Codes
Examples of Policies