A-80440, SEPTEMBER 21, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 282

A-80440: Sep 21, 1936

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THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR EXPENDITURES IN EXCESS OF THAT AMOUNT. AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH COPY OF PROPOSED LEASE COVERING RENTAL AGREEMENT OF THE CENTURY BUILDING. WHICH IS OCCUPIED BY THE RECORDER OF DEEDS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. YOUR ATTENTION IS ESPECIALLY DIRECTED TO THE FACT THAT UNDER THE TERMS OF THE PROPOSED LEASE THE LANDLORD HAS INCREASED THE RENT OF THE CENTURY BUILDING FROM $12. OUR LANDLORD INFORMS US THAT UNLESS THE TERMS OF THE NEW LEASE ARE MET PROCEEDINGS IN THE MUNICIPAL COURT FOR POSSESSION OF THE PREMISES WILL BE INSTITUTED. IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: QUESTION 1. WHICH SAID SUM WILL AGGREGATE $16. IF QUESTION NUMBER ONE IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE HOW SHALL THE RECORDER PROCEED TO PROVIDE FOR THE DEFICIENCY RESULTING IN OUR RENT ITEM?

A-80440, SEPTEMBER 21, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 282

LEASES - RENT - APPROPRIATION LIMITATIONS - RECORDER OF DEEDS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA THE ACT OF JUNE 23, 1936, 49 STAT. 1854, MAKING APPROPRIATION FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1936, HAVING SPECIFICALLY LIMITED THE AMOUNT TO BE EXPENDED FOR RENT OF OFFICES OF THE RECORDER OF DEEDS, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR EXPENDITURES IN EXCESS OF THAT AMOUNT.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE RECORDER OF DEEDS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 21, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 1, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH COPY OF PROPOSED LEASE COVERING RENTAL AGREEMENT OF THE CENTURY BUILDING, WHICH IS OCCUPIED BY THE RECORDER OF DEEDS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES HAS MADE AVAILABLE FOR RENT OF OFFICES FOR THE RECORDER OF DEEDS THE SUM OF $12,600.00, FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1937.

YOUR ATTENTION IS ESPECIALLY DIRECTED TO THE FACT THAT UNDER THE TERMS OF THE PROPOSED LEASE THE LANDLORD HAS INCREASED THE RENT OF THE CENTURY BUILDING FROM $12,600.00 TO $16,000.00 PER ANNUM. OUR LANDLORD INFORMS US THAT UNLESS THE TERMS OF THE NEW LEASE ARE MET PROCEEDINGS IN THE MUNICIPAL COURT FOR POSSESSION OF THE PREMISES WILL BE INSTITUTED.

IN THIS CONNECTION YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

QUESTION 1. WHETHER THE RECORDER OF DEEDS HAS AUTHORITY TO PAY RENT FROM THE AVAILABLE ITEM OF $12,600.00, THE SUM OF $1,333.33 PER MONTH, WHICH SAID SUM WILL AGGREGATE $16,000.00 PER ANNUM, BEGINNING WITH THE FIRST DAY OF JULY 1936? AND,

QUESTION 2. IF QUESTION NUMBER ONE IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE HOW SHALL THE RECORDER PROCEED TO PROVIDE FOR THE DEFICIENCY RESULTING IN OUR RENT ITEM?

QUESTION 3. IF QUESTION NUMBER ONE IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE, WHAT PROCEDURE SHOULD BE FOLLOWED IN ORDER THAT THE RECORDER MAY PROVIDE FOR THE PROPER HOUSING OF HIS RECORDS?

PUBLIC, NO. 762, 74TH CONGRESS, APPROVED JUNE 23, 1936, 49 STAT. 1854, IN MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1937, PROVIDED (P. 5):

FOR RENT OF OFFICES OF THE RECORDER OF DEEDS, $12,600.

YOUR ATTENTION IS INVITED TO SECTION 3679, REVISED STATUTES (SEE ALSO SEC. 625, TITLE 20, D.C. CODE), AND ACT OF MARCH 3, 1905, 33 STAT. 1257, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 27, 1906, 34 STAT. 48, WHICH EXPRESSLY PROHIBITS THE EXPENDITURE IN ANY ONE FISCAL YEAR OF ANY SUM IN EXCESS OF THE APPROPRIATION MADE BY THE CONGRESS FOR THAT FISCAL YEAR AND PROHIBITS THE INVOLVING OF THE GOVERNMENT "IN ANY CONTRACT OR OTHER OBLIGATION FOR THE FUTURE PAYMENT OF MONEY IN EXCESS OF SUCH APPROPRIATIONS UNLESS SUCH CONTRACT OR OBLIGATION IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW," WITH A FURTHER PROVISION THAT:

* * * ANY PERSON VIOLATING ANY PROVISION OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE SUMMARILY REMOVED FROM OFFICE AND MAY ALSO BE PUNISHED BY A FINE OF NOTLESS THAN ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS OR BY IMPRISONMENT FOR NOT LESS THAN ONE MONTH.

IN ADDITION TO THIS PROHIBITION AGAINST THE EXPENDITURE OF MONEY IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT APPROPRIATED AND THE INVOLVING OF THE GOVERNMENT IN ANY CONTRACT NOT AUTHORIZED BY LAW IN EXCESS OF THE APPROPRIATION, IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT A CONTRACT ATTEMPTING TO IMPOSE AN OBLIGATION IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT APPROPRIATED OR AUTHORIZED BY LAW WAS A NULLITY AND IMPOSED NO LEGAL OBLIGATION ON THE GOVERNMENT. HOOE V. UNITED STATES, 218 U.S. 322, AND SUTTON V. UNITED STATES, 256 U.S. 575. THIS BEING THE SITUATION, YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO ENTER INTO ANY LEASE FOR PREMISES TO BE OCCUPIED BY THE RECORDER OF DEEDS AT A RENTAL IN EXCESS OF $12,600 FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1937, AS APPROPRIATED IN THE ABOVE REFERRED TO ACT OF JUNE 23, 1936.

YOUR QUESTION NO. 1 IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE. YOUR QUESTIONS NOS. 2 AND 3 ARE FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION LIMITED BY THAT NO OBLIGATIONS MAY BE ASSUMED INVOLVING EXPENDITURES IN EXCESS OF AVAILABLE APPROPRIATIONS.