July 18, 1996
Subject: Whether county may be non-federal sponsor for portion of federally supported flood control project in city within the county.
Written by: Gerard Gerhard
Requested by: Hon. Bob Arnold, Commissioner, Department of Local Government
Syllabus: County fiscal court may act as non-federal sponsor of federally supported flood control project, including that portion of such project within incorporated area of a city within the county.
OAGs cited: 75-654, 84-323.
Statutes construed: KRS 67.083(3)(i); 67.083(3)(j); 67.084; 68.240; 68.260; 81.010(6).
OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
The following question, in substance, has been presented:
May a county fiscal court act as the non-federal sponsor for a federally supported flood control project, a portion of which will be carried out within the incorporated area of a sixth class city within the county?
In our view the answer is yes. Discussion follows.
A flood control project is proposed for Martin County, with principal funding to come from the federal government under various federal statutes. An agreement in such regard is called for as between the U. S. Department of the Army, and the Martin County Fiscal Court. The agreement would require the Martin County Fiscal Court to share a portion of the costs of the project, and to assume certain responsibilities as described in the proposed agreement, a draft of which was supplied for review incident to this opinion. While the major portion of the project would be carried out in unincorporated areas of Martin County, a portion of the project would be within the incorporated area of the City of Warfield, a sixth class city (KRS 81.010(6)) within Martin County.
The question has been raised as to whether the Martin County Fiscal Court may act as the non-federal sponsor of the project as to that portion of the project that is within the City of Warfield. As a general rule, a unit of local government may exercise its authority and expend its revenues only within its own territory.
The fiscal court of a county has express statutory authority upon which it may base acting as a non-federal sponsor of a federally supported flood control project. KRS 67.083(3)(i) empowers a fiscal court to act in connection with the control of floods. KRS 67.083(3)(j) empowers a fiscal court to cause the repair or demolition of structures which present a hazard to public health, safety or morals or are otherwise inimical to the welfare of residents of the county.
While the City of Warfield is a jurisdiction unto itself, it is within Martin County. Residents of the city pay taxes to county government that benefit the county as a whole. The project in question will benefit the county as a whole. It would be absurd to suggest that while residents of the City of Warfield may be required to pay taxes for the benefit of Martin County, a portion of those taxes may not be applied to a project that would be beneficial to the county as a whole within a city within the county. See OAG 84-323. We note that the responsibilities of the Martin County Fiscal Court, as non-federal sponsor of the project in question, are not adverse to the governmental interests or authority of the City of Warfield. It might be further noted that legislative intent that a fiscal court of a county may participate in federally supported flood relief efforts is indicated by KRS 67.084, which authorizes fiscal courts to enact ordinances to qualify the county for flood insurance subsidized by the United States.
In OAG 75-654 this office indicated that a fiscal court could contribute to the cost of erection of a stop light within a city, given the broad authority provided by KRS 67.083, and the fact that the light in question would involve the safety, welfare and convenience not only of the inhabitants of the city, but also of the county. By similar reasoning here, and based upon the specific provisions within KRS 67.083 cited above, as well as our observations in the paragraph immediately above, we believe the Martin County Fiscal Court has full authority to act as the non-federal sponsor of a federally supported flood control project within the county, to include that portion of the project that is within a city within the county.
The commitment of county funds to the project is, of course, subject to their availability, and proper budgeting within the county's budget. KRS 68.240, KRS 68.260.
A. B. CHANDLER III
Gerard R. Gerhard
Assistant Attorney General