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ACT OF 1897.
An Act to establish u uniform system of county
and township governments.
[Approved April 1, 1897.)
Bodies corporate and politic.
SECTION 1. The several counties of this state, as they now exist, and such other counties as may be hereafter organized, according to law, are bodies corporate and politic, and as such have the powers specified in this act, and such other powers as are necessarily implied.
Political Code, section 4000.
The state of California was first divided into counties by acts of the legislature of February 16th, 1850; this was amended by aut of April 5th of the same year.
In Smith v. Meyers, 15 Cal. 34, it is said that the people of a county are not a corporation, and possess no capacity of suing or being sued. The county acts and is dealt with only in its corporate capacity.
And in Emeric v. Gilman, 10 Cal. 404, it was held that the private property of individuals cannot be taken under execution against a county; that no execution could issue on a judgment against a county. If a judgment is rendered against a county, it is the duty of
the supervisors to apply such funds as are in tie treasury, and not otherwise appropriated, to its payment, and if that is not sufficient, resort must be had to the power of taxation; and if these duties are not performed, mandamus against the board may be resorted to. But revenues raised for other purposes cannot be applied to such judgments. Of similar import are the cases of Hart v. Burnett, 15 Cal. 586; People v. San Francisco, 28 Cal. 431; Sharp v. Contra Costa, 34 Cal. 291; Rose v. Estudillo, 39 Cal. 275.
Sections 4000, 4001, 4446, 4256 of Political Code, corresponding to sections 1, 2, 25 and 132 of the county government act, are commented on in Scollay v. County of Butte, 67 Cal. 252.
A statute providing for a system of county governments which in its terms is limited to a portion of the state, would be in contravention of the provisions of the constitution. (Sec. 4, Art. VI, Const.). Hale v. McGettigan 114 Cal. 120.
Powers exercised through boards, etc.
SEC. 2. Their powers can only be exercised by the board of supervisors, or by agents and officers acting under their authority, or authority of law.
Political Code, section 4001.
Speaking of sections 4000, 4001, 4003 and 4006 of the Political Code it was said: these provisions constitute the charter of the county upon the subjects to which they relate; and for the declared purposes and objects within
its jurisdiction, the board could exercise the powers expressly granted to it and those which were necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to them. Scollay v. County of Butte, 67 Cal. 252; Sherbourne v. Yuba Co., 21 Cal. 114.
Neither section 35 of the county government act, [Sub. 35 of Sec. 25 of act of 1883–Sub. 40 of Sec. 25 of act of 1897] empowers the board of supervisors to contract to pay a procurer for procuring the sale of the county's bonds. The statute points out the mode to be pursued in making sale and designates the treasurer as the officer to carry that mode into execution. Smith v. County of Los Angeles, 99 Cal. 630. Must be designated by name.
SEC. 3. The name of a county designated in the law creating it is its corporate name, and it must be designated thereby in all actions and proceedings touching its corporate rights, property and duties.
Political Code, section 4002.
See notes under section 4, post.
SEC. 4. It has power:
3. To make such contracts and purchase and hold such personal property as may be necessary to the exercise of its powers.
4. To manage and dispose of its property as the interests of its inhabitants may require.
5. To levy and collect such taxes, for purposes under its exclusive jurisdiction, as are authorized
Political Code, section 4003.
Counties are quasi corporations and were given the capacity to sue and be sued, in general terms, by the act of May 11, 1854. Price v. County of Sacramento, 6 Cal. 256.
In its name: County of Solano v. Neville, 27 Cal. 466.
On criminal recognizance: County of Mendocino v. Lamar, 30 Cal.629.
But cannot delegate to others the power of determining whether or not the county shall sue. Scollay v. County of Butte, 67 Cal. 254.
A county may sue in its own name to recover taxes levied upon a road district. [Pol. Code in Sec. 3671, added in 1883] County of San Luis Obispo v. White, 91 Cal. 432.
It is held in relation to the clause in the San Francisco consolidation act, "and by that name it may purchase, receive, hold and enjoy real and personal property, and sell, convey, mortgage and dispose of the same for the common benefit,” that it did not confer power on the board of supervisors to purchase land for a small-pox hospital site; that the clause was not a grant of unlimited power, but was declaratory of the capacity of the city-its powers as elsewhere declared in the act were to be exercised only as therein specified. Von Schmidt v. Widber, 105 Cal. 159.
Persons contracting with boards such as county supervisors do so under the presumption that they are aware of the powers of the board, and that they can obtain no benefit under contracts made with such boards in excess of the authority conferred by the statutes. Santa Cruz R. P. Co. v. Broderick, 113 Cal. 634. Giving and loaning of credit prohibited.
SEC. 5. No county shall in any manner, give or loan its credit to or in aid of any person or corporation. An indebtedness or liability incurred contrary to this provision shall be void.
Political Code, section 4004.
Sections 30, 31 of article IV of the constitution of 1879 declares that neither the legislature, nor any county, city and county, township, school district or other municipal corporation, shall ever make an appropriation, or pay from any public fund whatever, or grant anything to or in aid of any religious sect, creed, or sectarian purpose, or help to support or sustain any college, school, university, etc.
And that the legislature shall have no power to give or lend, or to authorize the giving or lending of the credit of the state, or of any county, city and county, township, or other political corporation or subdivision of the state now existing, or that may be hereafter established, in aid of or to any person, association or corporation, whether municipal or otherwise,
Nor shall it have power to make any gift, or authorize the making of any gift, of any public money or thing of value, etc.
In the coyote scalp bounty matter it was held that the act of the legislature did not constitute an "appropriation”. of money because no specific sum was named. And that