Van De Kamp, 052384 CAAGO, AGO 83-1110

Docket Nº:AGO 83-1110
Case Date:May 23, 1984
JOHN K. VAN DE KAMP Attorney General
RONALD M. WEISKOPF Deputy Attorney General
AGO 83-1110
No. 83-1110
California Attorney General Opinion
Office of the Attorney General State of California
May 23, 1984
         THE HONORABLE CLAIR A. CARLSON, COUNTY COUNSEL, COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ, requests an opinion on the following question:          Does Government Code section 54776.1(b), which requires a county board of supervisors to fund a Local Agency Formation Commission ("LAFCO") a budget based on "the amount provided in the prior fiscal year", refer to the amount that had been appropriated in the county budget for LAFCO or the amount that LAFCO actually expended during that period?          CONCLUSION          The provision of Government Code section 54776.1(b) that requires a county board of supervisors to fund a LAFCO a budget based on "the amount provided in the prior fiscal year" refers to the amount that board had appropriated for the LAFCO in the county budget for that year.          ANALYSIS          This opinion discusses the meaning of one of the three amounts described in Government Code section 54776.1 with which a county board of supervisors must fund the county Local Agency Formation Commission.          Local Agency Formation Commissions ("LAFCO's") are established in each county pursuant to the Knox-Nisbet Act (Gov. Code, tit. 5, div. 2, pt. 1, ch. 6.6, § 54773 et seq.) to serve as "watchdogs" over "the orderly formation and development of local governmental agencies . . ." (§ 54774) and they thus, among other things, "guard against the wasteful duplication of services that results from indiscriminate formation of new local agencies or haphazard annexation of territory to existing [ones]." (City of Ceres v. City of Modesto (1969) 274 Cal.App.2d 545, 553; see also 64 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 633 (1981); 63 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 748 (1980); 63 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 758 (1980); 45 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 82 (1965).) A LAFCO is not a county agency; it executes a part of the functions of state government and is independent of the county. (64 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen., supra, at 633; 45 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen., supra, at 84.) Nevertheless the cost of its operation is a county charge, Government Code section 54776 so providing:
"The board of supervisors shall, in conformance with Section 54776.1 furnish the commission with necessary quarters, equipment, and supplies, and the usual and necessary operating expenses incurred by the commission shall be a county charge."
         Section 54776.1, the concern of this opinion, then provides for the mechanism of that funding. After amendment in 1982, the section reads as follows:
"On or before the 10th day of June the commission shall prepare and transmit to the board of supervisors an estimate of the amount of money needed for the purposes prescribed by Section 54776 during the following fiscal year. The board of supervisors shall provide for the use of the commission during such fiscal year not less than the amount of money equal to any of the following: "(a) The amount fixed by the commission. "(b) The amount provided in the prior fiscal year increased by the same percentage as the appropriations limit of the county for such fiscal year will be increased from the prior fiscal year. "(c) The amount determined in (b) plus any additional amount the board deems necessary. "The county auditor shall audit and allow or reject all claims for expenditures for county charges incurred pursuant to the provisions of this chapter in lieu of, and with the same effect as, allowance or rejection of claims by the board of supervisors." (Emphasis added.)
(§ 54776.1; as amended by Stats. 1982, ch. 436, § 2, p. 2579.)          We are asked the meaning of the second described possible minimum amount for LAFCO funding and particularly whether the phrase "the amount provided in the prior fiscal year" refers to the amount the county had budgeted for LAFCO use that year or the amount LAFCO actually then expended. We will conclude that it refers to the former.          Several rules of statutory construction guide us in resolving the issue. First and foremost of course is that we must construe section 54776.1(b) in a manner that is consistent with the Legislature's intention in enacting it, i.e., the legislative purpose for amending the section in 1982. (Cf. Great Lakes Properties, Inc. v. City of El Segundo (1977) 19 Cal.3d 152, 163; Moyer v. Workmen's Comp. Appeals Bd. (1973) 10 Cal.3d 222, 230; Select Base Materials v. Board of Equalization (1959) 51 Cal.2d 640, 645.) That, fortunately, is easily discerned from its history (cf. California Mfrs. Assn. v. Public Utilities Com. (1979) 24...

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