This page provides an overview of state laws concerning the sale or disposal of surplus property by cities and towns in Washington State, including examples of local government codes, policies, and surplus resolutions.
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.
The basic authority to purchase and dispose of real estate and personal property is set in the following statutes:
Cities and towns should also be familiar with the statutes listed below.
- 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 39.33.015 – Cities, towns, and other political subdivisions may transfer, lease, or dispose of property at low or no cost for affordable housing and related facilities for low-income and very low-income households, as defined under RCW 43.63A.510, consistent with local regulations and comprehensive plans.
- RCW 39.33.020 – Requires that a public hearing be held if the value of the property being surplussed exceeds $50,000. AGO 1997 No. 5 concluded that the public hearing requirement only applies to intergovernmental transfers.
- 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.
- RCW 35.94.040 – 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. However, no hearing is required for personal property or equipment with an estimated value of $50,000 or less.
- RCW 42.30.110(1)(b) – Cities and towns can discuss the selection of property for purchase or lease (or the price) in executive session when public knowledge regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of increased price.
- 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 – Exempts from public disclosure real estate appraisals obtained by the city prior to completion of a sale of the property. The statute was amended in 2015 to clarify the disclosure exemption by adding the following: “The exemptions in this section do not apply when disclosure is mandated by another statute or after the project or prospective project is abandoned or all properties that are part of the project have been purchased, sold, or leased. No appraisal may be withheld for more than three years.”
- RCW 43.09.210 – 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.</…….