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Surplus Property for Special Purpose Districts

This page provides an overview of the requirements for special purpose districts in Washington State – such as fire districts, library districts, park districts, port districts, public hospital districts, transit districts, and water-sewer districts – to sell or dispose of surplus personal or real property, as well as examples of surplus policies and resolutions.

Additional examples, as well as an overview of city and county surplus requirements, can be found on our pages Surplus City or Town Property and Surplus County Property.



Overview

Special purpose districts – such as fire protection districts, port districts, water-sewer districts, and many others – sometimes need to sell or otherwise dispose of "surplus" equipment or property that is no longer needed for agency purposes.

There is a threshold question of what types of items need to be declared surplus. Items that are broken, obsolete, or of no monetary value would not necessarily need to be declared surplus before disposing of them, although some agencies do according to local policy. On the other hand, if there is any question of whether an item is usable or has value, it should be declared surplus.

In addition, it is a good idea to surplus anything that is part of an asset management system – even if it no longer has value – to document the fact that it is no longer in use. Real property should be declared surplus before being sold or conveyed and the same is true for timber and mineral rights.

Some special purpose districts have specific statutes regarding the procedures to dispose of surplus property, but others do not. Either way, MRSC recommends adopting written surplus policies and procedures to guide your agency.


General Surplus Procedures and Practice Tips

While there are some unique considerations for certain types of property as discussed later on this page, the general process we recommend for formally disposing of surplus property is similar:

Determine Which Property Is Surplus

This determination should be made by the appropriate staff and managers. Some local government agencies conduct periodic surveys or inventories to identify surplus property, while others identify surplus property on an as-needed basis.

Be specific about which items are no longer needed and, if applicable, from which funds or departments. Document any relevant identifying information, such as model numbers, serial numbers, vehicle identification numbers (VINs), asset management tags, or other information as appropriate (such as vehicle mileage, item location, or equipment condition).

Determine the Fair Market Value

Selling the property for less than its fair market value may be a violation of the “gift of public funds clause” in Article VIII, Sec. 7 of the Washington State Constitution, which states that “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…”

There are a number of ways to determine the property’s estimated market value, including (but not limited to) reviewing recent sales of similar items, Kelley Blue Book values, or county assessment records; contacting the manufacturer; or conducting a real estate market analysis or appraisal. Generally speaking, the more valuable the property, the more formal the appraisal or valuation should be.

The value estimate should not be provided by an individual or entity that has expressed interest in purchasing the property, which could result in the agency receiving less than fair market value.

Publish Public Notice or Hold Public Hearing (If Required)

Public notice and/or a public hearing may be required for certain property under state law or local policy; we discuss the statutory requirements for different property types and agency types below.

While RCW 39.33.020 requires the state or a political subdivision to hold a public hearing before disposing of surplus property with an estimated value of $50,000 or more, AGO 1997 No. 5 concludes that this statute only applies to intergovernmental property transfers made pursuant to chapter 39.33 RCW. Under that reasoning, this statute would not apply to any non-governmental sales, auctions, etc. However, public hearings may be required by other statutes or by local policy.

Adopt Surplus Resolution (Unless Authority is Delegated)

The governing body – such as the board of commissioners or board of directors – should declare the property to be surplus (along with the identifying information mentioned earlier) and specify how the property is to be disposed of or delegate that task to a particular administrative official.

The resolution might also specify what to do with any items that are unable to be sold (such as declaring unsold items to have no value and authorizing them to be scrapped or donated to a particular organization). In some cases such as surplus real estate, the resolution might authorize further appraisal to confirm the property’s value.

An agency has the option of delegating some of its surplus authority to an appropriate administrative official, such as the executive director, superintendent, general manager, fire chief, etc. or their designee. Such delegation is typically capped by the value of the property to be declared surplus. Any delegated authority should be adopted by policy, resolution, or ordinance, but the governing body would not need to approve the disposal of any surplus items below the delegation threshold.

Proceed With Sale or Disposal

Proceed with the sale or disposal in the manner determined by the governing body or appropriate administrative official, subject to any statutory limitations. In some cases further action may be required, such as the governing body's approval of a purchase and sale agreement. Any proceeds should be deposited in the appropriate fund for each item. Note that certain agency staff or officials may be restricted from purchasing the property due to conflict of interest concerns as discussed later on this page.


Personal Property (Vehicles, Equipment, Etc.)

“Personal property” generally refers to anything other than real property (land and buildings). Common examples of surplus personal property include vehicles, computer equipment, tools, and office furniture.

Some special purpose districts have specific statutory requirements for disposing of surplus personal property, while others do not. See the sections later on this page for specific requirements for the most common types of special purpose districts.

Items with commercial value can generally be sold by any number of methods, such as online or in-person auctions, sealed bids, “for sale” ads, fleet management services, direct sale to an individual, trade-in, or other methods.

Items with little or no monetary value – sometimes referred to de minimis items – can be disposed of as the agency sees fit. Examples include obsolete or broken equipment or other items with little to no resale value. Such items can be sold, donated, sold for scrap, destroyed, recycled, or tossed in the garbage as appropriate. Agencies should consult their local policies and procedures to determine whether the governing body needs to approve the disposal of de minimis items or whether that task can be done by staff.

As mentioned earlier, any items that are part of an asset management system should be formally surplused even if they have no remaining value.


Real Property (Land and Buildings)

Some special purpose districts have specific statutory requirements for disposing of surplus real property, while others do not. See the sections later on this page for specific requirements for the most common types of special purpose districts.

Depending on the situation, state laws, and any adopted local policies, real estate sale methods can include requests for proposals (RFPs), sealed bids, auction, direct negotiations, real estate brokers/agents, multiple listing services, or other methods.

RCW 42.30.110(1)(c) allows the governing body to 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 allows the governing body to provide negotiation direction and flexibility to the person delegated to sell the real property. However, the final action to sell or lease the property must be taken during a public meeting open session.

Similarly, RCW 42.56.260 exempts from public disclosure real estate appraisals or other documents prepared for the purpose of considering the minimum price of real estate to be offered for sale or lease if public knowledge would cause a likelihood of decreased price. However, these exemptions do not apply if disclosure is required by another statute, if the sale or lease has been completed, or if the sale or lease has been abandoned. No appraisal may be withheld for more than three years.

In addition, RCW 39.33.015 allows cities, towns, and other political subdivisions to transfer, lease, or dispose of surplus real property at low or no cost to a public, private, or nongovernmental body for affordable housing and related facilities. For more information and examples, see our page Affordable Housing Techniques and Incentives.


Intergovernmental Property Transfers

Chapter 39.33 RCW governs the intergovernmental disposition of property. In particular, RCW 39.33.010 allows any municipality or political subdivision to sell, transfer, exchange, lease, or otherwise dispose of real or personal property to other governmental entities – which includes any other municipality or political subdivision, any federally recognized Indian tribe, or the state or federal government – “on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon,” which permits the transfer of property for less than its fair market value.

The same statute also authorizes local jurisdictions to sell, transfer, exchange, lease, or otherwise dispose of personal property (but not weapons or real property) to a foreign entity.

However, RCW 43.09.210 requires that local governments receive the “true and full value” for all property transferred to another governmental entity. The state attorney general’s office has concluded that this statute can be harmonized with RCW 39.33.010 if the government agencies negotiate over the property’s value and that, depending on the nature of the property and circumstances of the transaction, “full value” can have a flexible meaning and could include non-monetary considerations. See AGO 1997 No. 5. (The statute has been updated since this opinion but not in a way that changes its conclusions.)

If the estimated value of the property being transferred to another government entity is more than $50,000, the local government agency must hold a properly noticed public hearing prior to disposing of the property (RCW 39.33.020). If the agency does not substantially comply with those statutory procedures, the property transfer may be declared invalid by a court if a suit is filed within one year.


Donating Surplus Property

Generally, donating surplus property to a nonprofit organization or other entity is prohibited as a gift of public funds under the state constitution, unless specifically authorized by law (such as transferring real property for affordable housing or transferring property to another government entity for non-monetary considerations as discussed earlier).

However, if the recipient organization provides assistance to the “poor and infirm,” the donation could potentially be allowed under the constitutional exception for the “necessary support of the poor and infirm.” For more information on gifting of public funds generally, see our page Gift of Public Funds.

In addition, the property may likely be donated if the cost of selling or otherwise disposing of it would exceed the fair market value (in which case the agency is saving itself money by donating the property).

For policy examples, see:


Surplus Property Purchased with Grant Funds

Before disposing of surplus grant-funded property, the agency should consult the award documents and the granting agency to ensure that the sale or disposal is consistent with the granting agency’s requirements.

For information on disposing of property acquired or improved with federal grant funds, see 2 CFR 200 Subpart D, Post Federal Award Requirements – in (particular 2 CFR 200.313 (equipment), 2 CFR 200.311 (real property), and 2 CFR 200.314 (supplies).


Conflicts of Interest

When obtaining appraisals and valuation services, public agencies should make sure they are receiving independent and impartial opinions on value. Agencies should not obtain estimates or appraisals from individuals or entities who have expressed interest in purchasing the property, which could result in the agency receiving less than fair market value.

Agency officials who were involved in the decision to surplus the property (the governing body) or responsible for administering the sale (the executive director, superintendent, general manager, or other administrative staff) should not purchase the surplus property due to conflict of interest concerns. See RCW 42.23.030; Washington’s common-law conflict of interest doctrine may also apply.

This prohibition also applies to the spouse and dependent children of anyone prohibited from purchasing by RCW 42.23.030. For more information, see our page on Ethics and Conflicts of Interest.

Although a sale at public auction or by sealed bids would seem to avoid direct conflict of interest issues, our conservative guidance has been to treat auction sales the same as direct sales and prohibit those individuals from submitting bids.

However, other agency employees who were not involved in the decision to declare the property surplus are generally allowed to purchase surplus property, unless a local code or policy provides otherwise.


Fire Districts and Regional Fire Authorities

Fire protection districts have broad power to buy and sell personal property. RCW 52.12.021 states that fire protection districts “have full authority to carry out their purposes and to that end may acquire, purchase, hold, lease, manage, occupy, and sell real and personal property, or any interest therein…”

Beyond that, Title 52 RCW does not provide specific requirements for fire districts to follow when disposing of surplus property (although other general laws still apply such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc. as discussed earlier).

MRSC recommends that fire districts adopt surplus procedures and policies and follow the general guidelines discussed earlier on this page.

Under RCW 52.26.090(1)(g), regional fire authorities (RFAs) follow the surplus procedures applicable to fire protection districts if one of the fire protection jurisdictions forming the RFA is a fire protection district (unless otherwise specified in the RFA service plan), or else the statutes identified in the RFA service plan if none of the participating fire protection jurisdictions is a fire district.

City fire departments that are governed by city council should follow the appropriate surplus procedures for their city; for more information see our page Surplus City or Town Property.

Examples

  • King County Fire District #16 Resolution No. 19-05 (2019) – Declares old vehicle to have exceeded its planned service life and to be surplus; authorizes fire chief to dispose of vehicle in a commercially reasonable manner.
  • King County Fire District #39 Resolution No. 611 (2022) – Declares ten parcels of real property to be surplus and authorizes fire chief to dispose of them. Declares that department will seek to capture fair market value for the properties and will consult with a professional real estate advisor to determine the best approach for property disposal.
  • Pierce County Fire District #21:
    • ‚ÄčResolution No. 874 (2017) – Declares several broken printers/copiers to be surplus personal property with no monetary value and authorizes their recycling/disposal
    • Resolution No. 914 (2018) – Declares list of old turnout gear (trousers and bunker coats) to be surplus with zero value and authorizes their disposal
    • Resolution No. 932 (2019) – Declares old water tender and motor home to be surplus and authorizes them to be advertised for sale as-is; if unable to be sold, authorizes vehicles to be sold to highest bidder at online auction
  • West Benton Regional Fire Authority Resolution No. 2018-8 (2018) – Declares fire truck to have outlived its useful life and to be surplus. Authorizes staff to dispose of vehicle by public auction, sale, or trade-in; authorizes fire chief to establish minimum sale/trade-in price.

Library Districts

The state laws governing library districts (found in chapter 27.12 RCW) are silent about the disposal of surplus property (although other general laws still apply such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc. as discussed earlier).

RCW 27.12.210(10) does provide that library trustees may do “all other acts necessary for the orderly and efficient management and control of the library,” which would include declaring property surplus. In addition, the Washington Attorney General confirmed in a 1974 letter opinion (AGLO 1974 No. 101) that library districts have the power to dispose of surplus property.

Library districts should also be aware that RCW 39.33.070 requires any library – defined in RCW 27.12.010 as “a free public library supported in whole or in part with money derived from taxation” – to dispose of surplus or obsolete reading materials with an estimated value in excess of $1,000 by public auction. If no reasonable bids are received, or if the reading materials have an estimated value of $1,000 or less, a library may directly negotiate the sale of the reading materials to a public or private entity. If the reading materials are determined to have no value as reading materials or if no purchaser is found, the reading materials may be recycled or destroyed.

MRSC recommends that library districts adopt surplus procedures and policies and follow the provisions of RCW 39.33.070 and the general guidelines discussed earlier on this page.

City library departments that are overseen by city council should follow the appropriate surplus procedures for their city; for more information see our page Surplus City or Town Property.

Examples

  • Ritzville Library District No. 2 Surplus Property Policy (2018) – Short policy addressing surplus library materials, real property, and personal property; only property having monetary value must be formally declared surplus.
  • Yakima Valley Libraries Surplus Materials and Equipment Policy (2017) – One-page policy including reading materials over $1,000. Items under capital threshold may be surplused by library director; items over capital threshold must be submitted to board of trustees for approval
    • Resolution No. 20-005 (2020) – Declares vehicle to have expended its useful life with repairs costing more than the vehicle value; authorizes vehicle to be offered for sale or salvage

Park Districts

There are three types of park districts under Washington state law. (See our page Comparison of Recreation Districts for more information.) There are a few statutory provisions specifically for park districts; other general laws still apply such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc. as discussed earlier.

  • Park and recreation districts: RCW 36.69.130 authorizes park and recreation districts to dispose of real and personal property only by unanimous vote of the district commissioners. Beyond that, chapter 36.69 RCW provides no specific surplus procedures to follow.
  • Park and recreation service areas: These districts are created by and governed by the county’s governing body. Park and recreation area statutes (RCW 36.68.400-.620) do not address surplus property, so the service area is likely governed by the same requirements as county parks (see RCW 36.68.010 and our page Surplus County Property).
  • Metropolitan park districts: RCW 35.61.132 authorizes metropolitan park districts (MPDs) to sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any real or personal property acquired for park or recreational purposes by unanimous decision of the board of park commissioners when such property is declared surplus for park or other recreational purposes. The statute provides additional restrictions for property acquired by donation or dedication, but beyond that chapter 35.61 RCW provides no specific surplus procedures to follow.

City or county park departments, as opposed to separately governed park districts, should follow the appropriate surplus procedures for their city or county; for more information see our pages Surplus City or Town Property and Surplus County Property.

Examples

  • Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District:
    • Resolution No. 2016-06 (2016) – Declares ski swap equipment, sailing equipment, and severely damaged vehicle to be surplus; includes sale/disposition method for items.
    • Resolution No. 2018-04 (2018) – Declares pickup truck to be surplus with approximate value of $5,000; authorizes vehicle to be sold on public surplus auction site or traded in
  • Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District Resolution No. 2018-05 (2018) – Declares itemized list of equipment to be surplus with value under $100 and authorizes general manager to sell or otherwise dispose of the equipment using commercially reasonable methods. Includes disposition method for each item; some will be sold, recycled, or donated.
  • Manson Parks and Recreation District:
    • Resolution No. 2019-01 (2019) – Declares non-working and outdated tools and equipment to be surplus and authorizes director to properly dispose of or recycle the items
    • Resolution No. 2021-04 (2019) – Declares park pay station that has been replaced to be surplus and authorizes director to coordinate sale. Pay station will be sold as-is and buyer must sign hold harmless form releasing district from responsibility

Port Districts

There are several statutes specific to port district surplus property; other general laws still apply such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc. as discussed earlier).

All surplus property: If the full purchase price is not paid at the time of purchase, every sale of real or personal property must comply with the provisions of RCW 53.08.091-.092 regarding contract and repayment terms.

Industrial development district property: RCW 53.25.110 authorizes the port commission to sell and convey any property within an industrial development district. Any land areas that are to be deleted from the industrial development district must comply with the provisions of RCW 53.25.040.

Property over $10,000: RCW 53.08.090 authorizes a port district to sell and convey any of its real or personal property valued at more than $10,000 when the port commission has, by resolution, declared the property to be no longer needed for district purposes.

However, no property which is a part of the port’s comprehensive plan (comprehensive scheme) may be disposed of until the comprehensive plan has been modified (with public notice and public hearing) to find the property surplus to port needs.

This $10,000 figure took effect in 1994 and is to be adjusted annually based on the governmental price index established by the state Department of Revenue under RCW 82.14.200. However, RCW 82.14.200 was repealed in 2012. Because RCW 53.08.090(2) still authorizes an annual inflation adjustment, some port districts now use other inflation indexes to adjust this annual threshold, while others use the original $10,000 threshold. We encourage port districts to talk to their legal counsel about whether and how to adjust this amount for inflation.

Property under $10,000: RCW 53.08.090 authorizes a port commission, by resolution, to authorize the district’s managing official to sell and convey surplus property of $10,000 or less in value. Again, this amount is to be increased annually by the inflation index in RCW 82.14.200 which has since been repealed; see our discussion above regarding whether this number can still be indexed to inflation.

Any large block of property having a value above this limit may not be broken down into smaller components of $10,000 or less unless the smaller components are sold by public competitive bid.

This authority may not exceed one calendar year from the date of the resolution, but may be renewed each year. Before any sale or conveyance, the managing official must itemize and list the property to be sold and make written certification to the commission that the property is no longer needed for district purposes.

Abandoned/seized vessels: Abandoned or seized vessels at port district moorage facilities may be sold according to the requirements of RCW 53.08.320.

Examples – Surplus Policies and Delegation

  • Port of Pasco Resolution No. 1572 (2022) – Authorizes executive director to sell and convey surplus personal property under $10,000 for one calendar year; director must provide itemized and certified list of all surplused items to the port commission at their first meeting of the following calendar year.
  • Port of Port Angeles Resolution No. 22-1262 (2022) – Delegation of authority to executive director; see Section XII (Policy Governing Sale of Property), including authority to donate or dispose of surplus items if executive director is unable to sell property or if item has a value of $200 or less and director determines expense of selling the property would exceed any benefit
  • Port of Skamania County Resolution No. 6-2021 (2021) – Authorizes executive director to sell or convey surplus property under $10,000 for one calendar year.
  • Port of Seattle Resolution No. 3797 (2021) – Authorizes executive director to sell or convey surplus personal property of $21,000 or less for one calendar year

Examples – Surplus Resolutions

  • Port of Port Townsend Resolution No. 750-21 (2021) – Declares old, outdated, and/or non-operable cash drawers, credit card swipers, receipt printers, and computer equipment to be surplus and authorizes executive director to sell or dispose of the property in the best manner.
  • Port of Seattle
    • Resolution No. 3757 (2019) – Declares real property to be surplus, removes the property from comprehensive scheme following public hearing, and authorizes executive director execute sale to private company.
    • Resolution No. 3803 (2022) – Declares real property to be surplus, removes the property from comprehensive scheme following public hearing, and authorizes executive director to execute intergovernmental sale to King County for combined sewer overflow facility.

Examples – Selling Abandoned Vessels


Public Hospital Districts

There are several statutes specific to public hospital district (PHD) surplus property; other general laws still apply such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc. as discussed earlier.

Personal property: RCW 70.44.320 authorizes the board of commissioners of any PHD to sell or otherwise dispose of surplus personal property. The board must adopt a resolution determining that the personal property is no longer required for public hospital district purposes and may dispose of the property upon such terms and conditions as the board finds to be in the best interest of the district.

Real property sale: RCW 70.44.300 authorizes the board to sell and convey real property at public or private sale. The board must determine by resolution that the property is no longer required for district purposes or determine that the sale will further the purposes of the PHD.

No more than one year prior to the date of the sale, the property must undergo market value appraisals by three licensed real estate brokers or professionally designated real estate appraisers, or three independent experts in valuing health care property, selected by the board of commissioners. The selected broker(s), appraiser(s), or independent expert(s) in valuing healthcare property may not be a party to any contract with the PHD to sell such property for a period of three years after the appraisal.

No sale may take place if the sale price would be less than 90% of the average of such appraisals.

If the value of the property exceeds $100,000, the board must publish a notice of intention to sell the property and hold a public hearing as prescribed by the statute.

The board may use the services of licensed real estate brokers if it concludes that it would facilitate the sale and realize greater value. The fees or commissions charged for any broker service may not exceed 7% of the sale price for a single parcel.

Real property lease: RCW 70.44.310 authorizes the board to lease or rent out surplus real property if the board has determined by resolution that the property presently is not required for district purposes. The property may be rented or leased in such manner and upon such terms and conditions as the board finds to be in the district’s best interest.

Examples

  • Ferry County Health Resolution No. 2021-14 (2021) – Declares old medical equipment and supplies to be surplus and authorizes them to be sold or scrapped
  • San Juan County PHD #3 Resolution No. 2022-07 (2022) – Declares one medical grade freezer and one medical grade refrigerator to be surplus personal property; authorizes superintendent to work with district’s building committee to explore how property can be disposed of in a manner that will promote the community’s health.
  • San Juan Island EMS Resolution No. 21-560 (2021) – Declares old ambulance to be surplus with value of $5,000 and authorizes sale or auction; also declares small and attractive asset (defibrillator) to be surplus
  • Snohomish County PHD #2 Resolution No. 2019-05 (2019) – Declaring various medical equipment and personal property to be surplus and authorizing superintendent or designee to sell it on a negotiated basis; any property not sold shall be disposed of and removed at the least possible cost.

Transit Districts (PTBAs)

There are several types of transit districts and agencies in Washington. (See our page Local Transit Authorities and Funding Sources for more information.) By far the most common are public transportation benefit areas (PTBAs), which will be discussed here.

PTBAs are governed by chapter 36.57A RCW, which does not explicitly address the disposition of surplus property. However, RCW 36.57A.080 states that “In addition to the powers specifically granted by this chapter a public transportation benefit area shall have all powers which are necessary to carry out the purposes of the public transportation benefit area.” As long as the activity is “necessary to carry out the purposes” of the PTBA, a PTBA can conduct the activity (see AGO 1998 No. 3). Presumably this includes disposing of surplus real and personal property.

Other general laws still apply such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc. as discussed earlier. PTBAs should adopt their own policies governing surplus property.

City or county transit departments should follow the appropriate surplus procedures for their city or county; for more information see our pages Surplus City or Town Property and Surplus County Property. Other types of transit districts will need to consult their enabling statutes.

Examples

  • Jefferson Transit Authority Surplus Policy (2020) – References FTA grant requirements and includes separate inventory disposal forms for items with original purchase price above and below $5,000
    • Resolution No. 15-19 (2015) – Declares real property to be surplus and authorizes disposal by further board action; includes subsequent resolution approving purchase and sale agreement and authorizing general manager to complete transaction
    • Resolution No. 20-10 (2020) – Declares several old buses and other vehicles to be surplus and authorizes each item to be sold at auction or sold for scrap metal value depending on condition
  • Mason Transit Authority Resolution No. 2022-07 (2022) – Declares long list of spare parts that no longer fit agency vehicles to be surplus; authorizes parts to be sold pursuant to agency’s surplus policy
  • Okanogan County Transit Authority Resolution No. 2017-28 (2017) – Declares damaged, inoperable, outdated, or unnecessary personal property and equipment to be surplus and authorizes general manager to dispose of them in commercially reasonable manner

Water-Sewer Districts

There are several statutes specific to water-sewer district surplus property; other general laws still apply such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc. as discussed earlier.

All property: RCW 57.08.015 authorizes the board of commissioners of a water-sewer district to sell surplus property via public or private sale. The board must determine that the property is not and will not be needed for district purposes. The board must publish a notice of intention as prescribed by the statute, but no notice of intention is required for personal property valued under $2,500.

Real property sale: RCW 57.08.016 requires the estimated value to be determined by the board of commissioners and based upon real estate appraiser and broker advice as the board considers appropriate. Any notice of intention to sell real property must include the estimated or appraised value.

For real property exceeding $5,000, the sale must be public and the value must be established by a written broker price opinion made not more than six months prior to the date of sale by three disinterested, licensed real estate brokers or by one professionally designated real estate appraiser.

No real property may be sold for less than 90% of its estimated or appraised value. However, if no purchaser has been found at that price within 120 days of offering the property for sale, the board of commissioners may adopt a resolution stating that the district has been unable to sell the property at the 90% amount and authorizing the property to be sold at public auction for the highest price it can obtain. The district must publish a notice of intention to sell at public auction as prescribed by the statute.

Real property lease: RCW 57.08.120 authorizes any water-sewer district to lease out real property it owns or has an interest in and which is not immediately necessary for its purposes, upon such terms as the board of commissioners deems proper. The board must adopt a resolution declaring that the district has a future need of the property and that provision for its use is made in the district’s comprehensive plan.

No lease may exceed 50 years, and the statute provides detailed requirements for public notice, a public hearing, and bonds and sureties.

Examples – Personal Property

  • Birch Bay Water and Sewer District Resolution No. 741 (2015) – Declares old/unusable fire hydrants that have been replaced to be surplus with aggregate value under $2,500 and authorizes sale by whatever means the district manager chooses.
  • King County Water District No. 90:
    • Resolution No. 993 (2015) – Declares list of obsolete computer equipment to be surplus with no value and authorizes disposal in whatever lawful manner is deemed appropriate by the general manager.
    • Resolution No. 1040 (2018) – Declares dump truck to be surplus and authorizes public sale through DES surplus operations website, with minimum sale price of $6,000 unless efforts to obtain minimum bid are unsuccessful. Includes notice of intention.
    • Resolution No. 1042 (2018) – Declares wood resulting from tree removal to be surplus with a value under $2,500 and authorizes disposal by most cost-effective means.
  • Lakewood Water District Resolution No. B-1419 (2014) – Declares vehicles, computer equipment, and other equipment to be surplus with estimated value over $2,500. Authorizes public or private sale as appropriate.

Examples – Real Property


Other Special Purpose Districts

For other types of special purpose districts not listed on this page, the general surplus considerations and statutes discussed earlier still apply (such as intergovernmental property transfers, transfer of real property for affordable housing, gift of public funds, etc.).

However, you will need to consult your agency's enabling statutes and any local policies and procedures to see if there are any additional considerations or requirements. Eligible agencies may also Ask MRSC for guidance.


Last Modified: September 29, 2022