2015 ORS 294.100¹
Public official expending money in excess of amount or for different purpose than provided by law unlawful
  • civil liability

(1) It is unlawful for any public official to expend any moneys in excess of the amounts provided by law, or for any other or different purpose than provided by law.

(2) Any public official who expends any public moneys in excess of the amounts or for any other or different purpose than authorized by law shall be civilly liable for the return of the money by suit of the district attorney of the district in which the offense is committed, or at the suit of any taxpayer of such district, if the expenditure constitutes malfeasance in office or willful or wanton neglect of duty.

(3) On the demand in writing of 10 taxpayers of any municipal corporation with a population exceeding 100,000 inhabitants, filed with the tax supervising and conservation commission in the county in which the municipal corporation is situated, which demand sets forth that a public official has unlawfully expended public moneys in excess of the amount or for any other or different purpose than provided by law and that the expenditure constitutes malfeasance in office or willful or wanton neglect of duty, the tax supervising and conservation commission shall make an investigation of the facts as to the expenditure. If the tax supervising and conservation commission finds that public moneys have been unlawfully expended and that the expenditure constitutes malfeasance in office or willful or wanton neglect of duty, the commission shall proceed at law in the courts against the public official who has unlawfully expended the moneys for the return of the moneys unlawfully expended to the treasury of the municipal corporation. A right of action hereby is granted to the tax supervising and conservation commission for the purposes of this section.

(4) This section does not apply to the expenditure of revenues that are allowed to be accrued from a fiscal year to the prior fiscal year under ORS 294.383 (Inclusions in accrued revenues of school, education service, community college and community college service districts using accrual basis of accounting). [Amended by 2001 c.399 §1; 2002 s.s.4 c.1 §§9,10]

Notes of Decisions

The fact that a public official acted in good faith does not justify an at­tempted exercise of any power or authority not expressly or impliedly given to him, no matter how honest may be his inten­tion or how upright his motives. Porter v. Tiffany, 11 Or App 542, 502 P2d 1385 (1972), Sup Ct review denied

Public money expended to advocate voter approval of a bonding issue was not "authorized by law" and the public utility com­mis­sioners who authorized the expenditure were per­sonally liable for the funds so spent. Porter v. Tiffany, 11 Or App 542, 502 P2d 1385 (1972), Sup Ct review denied

This sec­tion provides a pro­ce­dure at law for taxpayers to follow in challenging expenditure of public funds by any public official. Halsey v. Portland Sch. Dist. 1 (concurring opinion), 16 Or App 450, 518 P2d 1349 (1974), Sup Ct review denied

Defense of good faith reliance on advice of counsel was available in ac­tion on rela­tion of taxpayers against directors of Sanitary Authority seeking return of moneys allegedly expended for purposes other than authorized by law and to es­tab­lish de­fense of advice of counsel, defendants must show they relied in good faith on advice given and without per­sonal benefit. Bear Creek v. Hopkins, 53 Or App 212, 631 P2d 808 (1981), Sup Ct review denied

If any change from urban renewal project is so substantial as to require formal amend­ment of urban renewal plan under ORS 457.220 (Plan amendment) (2), then spending any funds for project without formal plan amend­ment is unauthorized and subjects public officials who authorize expenses to per­sonal liability. Umrein v. Nelson, 70 Or App 104, 688 P2d 419 (1984), Sup Ct review denied

Reference to unauthorized expenditure in this sec­tion includes unlawful use of otherwise authorized expenditures. Burt v. Blumenauer, 299 Or 55, 699 P2d 168 (1985)

After circuit court on remand from Court of Appeals granted officials' mo­tions to dismiss and taxpayer again ap­pealed, taxpayer ac­tion under this sec­tion to recover allegedly misspent public funds is not "tort" within meaning of Oregon Tort Claims Act. Burt v. Blumenauer, 84 Or App 144, 733 P2d 462 (1987), Sup Ct review denied, as modified by 87 Or App 263, 742 P2d 626 (1987)

Defense of good faith reliance on advice of counsel is not limited to situa­tions where law is unclear or public official lacks statutory guidance. Belgarde v. Linn, 205 Or App 433, 134 P3d 1082 (2006), Sup Ct review denied

Atty. Gen. Opinions

District Attorney not civilly liable, (1976) Vol 37, p 1142; per­sons liable for excess funding, (1976) Vol 37, p 1142; liability for unlawful expenditures of unemploy­ment insurance funds to operate a school district, (1976) Vol 38, p 304; reliance upon an opinion of the Attorney General, (1976) Vol 38, p 304; liability of school district or other municipal corpora­tion of­fi­cers for continued expenditures after knowledge of substantial invest­ment loss, (1980) Vol 40, p 408

Law Review Cita­tions

52 OLR 155-170 (1973)

  • Portland Mercury / Dirk Vanderhart, Dec 9, 2013
    “The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, perpetually in the hot seat for millions in overtime expenditures, overshot its budget last fiscal year by more than half a million dollars, a breach of Oregon law. That overspending amounts to a sliver of the office's $120 million budget. But it also contravenes the normal process . . .”

1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 294—County and Municipal Financial Administration, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors294.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2015, Chapter 294, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano294.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.