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Isley v. School Dist. No. 2 of Maricopa County

Supreme Court of Arizona

December 26, 1956

Phil A. ISLEY, as Treasurer of Maricopa County, Arizona, and W. W. Dick, as County School Superintent of Maricopa County, Arizona, Appellants,
v.
SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 2 of MARICOPA COUNTY, Arizona, a body politic, Appellee.

Page 433

[81 Ariz. 281] Snell & Wilmer, and Perry M. Ling, Phoenix, for appellants.

[81 Ariz. 282] William P. Mahoney, Jr., County Atty., and Jos. F. Walton, Special Counsel for School Affairs, Phoenix, for appellee.

LA PRADE, Chief Justice.

The action upon which this appeal is based arose out of undertainty as to meaning and effect of certain provisions contained in section 54-603, A.C.A.1939, as amended, sections 15-1201 and 15-1202, A.R.S.1956, pertaining to school district budgets and the accouting and administrative responsibilities with respect to school district funds resulting under these provisions. The school district, county superintendent of schools and county treasurer were unsure of their respective duties under these statutes, and the school district-appellee sought a declaratory judgment for the purpose of clarifying this situation. The court granted the school district's motion for summary judgment, holding in effect that under then existing statutes a six-line rather than a forty-one-line 'Operating Expense' budget controlled; that the treasurer was bound to keep a separate account for each school district, and pay warrants when such would not result in an overdraft of either the 'Operating Expense' or 'Capital Outlay' divisions of the budget, respectively; and that registered warrants drawn on school district funds should be paid in accordance with sections 17-706 et seq., A.C.A.1939, sections 11-636 through 11-639, A.R.S.1956. From this judgment the county superintendent of schools and county treasurer appealed.

Section 54-603, supra, contains a budget format for school districts, applicable portions of which are as follows:

'54-603. School district budgets. Not later than July 3rd of each year the

Page 434

board of trustees of each common or high school district shall prepare and furnish to the county school superintendent and the state superintendent of public instruction a proposed budget for the current fiscal year, which shall contain the information and be in form as follows:

[81 Ariz. 283]

'(Name and No. of District)

Proposed School District Budget for the fiscal year 19__ to 19__

[81 Ariz. 284]

Page 435

(General categories III, IV, V and VI, which also include subitems, are omittedfor brevity.)

At the request of the school district the county attorney of Maricopa County gave an opinion that the general categories (I, II, etc.) under the 'Operating Expense' division controlled the operating budget, and that the subitems were merely explanatory of the general categories. He founded this conclusion upon the fact that no lines were provided in the three vertical columns for the forty-one subitems included in these general categories. The attorney general subsequently rendered an opinion to the effect that expenditures were limited to amounts set up in each of the subitems-hence the uncertainty confronting the officials to which reference is above made.

School district expenditures are controlled by a budget which is prepared by the board of trustees, as governing body of the district, using the above budget format, pursuant to section 54-603, supra. The general scheme for discharge of school district obligations involves the issuance of a voucher by the board of trustees at the time an obligation is incurred; the drawing of a warrant by the county superintendent of schools on the county treasurer against the school funds upon receipt of a valid voucher, section 54-301, A.C.A.1939, 1952 Supp., section 11-514, ...


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