1. There is no merit in the contention that the court erred in overruling the general demurrer to the plaintiff's petition as amended. All contracts made for and on behalf of a county by its board of county commissioners must be in writing and entered on its minutes. Code, § 23-1701; Board of Commissioners of Morgan County v. MacDougald Construction Co., 157 Ga. 595 (122 S. E. 317); Graham v. Beacham, 189 Ga. 304 (5 S.E.2d 775). "If they are not in writing and not so entered, they are not enforceable." In this case, the petition as amended alleges that the defendant, as his authority and for his right to cut and remove timber from the plaintiff's land, relied upon a contract with the Board of County Commissioners of Fulton County, which at that time had not been recorded on the board's official minutes, and it is well settled in this State that such a contract is unenforceable until so entered. James v. Douglas County, 131 Ga. 270 (62 S. E. 185); Spears v. Robertson, 170 Ga. 368 (152 S. E. 903); Griffin v. Maddox, 181 Ga. 492 (182 S. E. 847); Hobbs v. Howell, 204 Ga. 370 (49 S.E.2d 827). Accordingly, the defendant's general demurrer to the petition as amended was properly overruled.
2. County property which has become unserviceable may be sold by order of the county commissioners at private sale. Code, §§ 91-602, 91-804; Head v. Lee, 203 Ga. 191 (4) (45 S.E.2d 666). And such property becomes unserviceable, within the meaning of our statute, when it cannot be beneficially or advantageously used under all the circumstances for county purposes. Dyer v. Martin, 132 Ga. 445 (64 S. E. 475); Trapnell v. Candler County, 146 Ga. 617 (91 S. E. 771). In this case, the evidence shows indisputably that the timber involved had become unserviceable for county purposes; and, that being true, the county commissioners were authorized to dispose of it by sale.
3. It is alleged in the original petition, and earnestly argued by plaintiff's counsel, that the contract of sale relied upon by the defendant is void, because (1) it was not read in full by the county attorney when he presented it to the county commissioners for consideration and action; and (2) because it was not read by the county commissioners themselves before being acted upon. This contention is wholly untenable. It is elementary
4. It is alleged in an amendment to the original petition that the contract relied upon by the defendant is a nullity because it was not properly signed for and on behalf of the county, and should for that reason be canceled. There is no merit in this. The record discloses that it was signed, "Fulton County, a political subdivision of Georgia, by James H. Aldredge (Seal)." James H. Aldredge, as the uncontroverted evidence reveals, was, at the time he signed the contract, Chairman of the Fulton County Board of County Commissioners, and he, as a witness for the plaintiff, testified: "I signed it [the contract involved] on the part of Fulton County, and I singed it pursuant to direction of the board." And an extract from the official minutes of the board of county commissioners, as introduced in evidence, shows: that "Commissioner Towns made a motion that the above and foregoing contract between Fulton County and James T. Malcom be approved and ratified by the board, and that the chairman of the board be authorized to execute said contract. The above and foregoing motion was seconded by Commissioner Doyal, and upon roll-call vote said contract was approved and the chairman authorized to execute the same for the county." The contract was, therefore, signed for and on behalf of Fulton County by James H. Aldredge, the board's chairman, in accordance with the board's directive, and it was not necessary, as urged, for the word "Chairman" to follow Aldredge's signature; nor, as insisted, for all of the members of the board to sign it. See, in this connection, Johnston v. Crawley, 25 Ga. 316 (71 Am. D. 173); Carr v. Georgia Loan & Trust Co., 108 Ga. 757 (33 S. E. 190); Pilcher v. English, 133 Ga. 496 (5) (66 S. E. 163); Boone v. Jenkins, 147 Ga. 812 (95 S. E. 707); Braswell v. Palmer, 191 Ga. 262 (3) (11 S.E.2d 889). In the Braswell case, supra, this court said: "If the county commissioners authorize the sale of county land, the deed may lawfully be signed by the chairman in the name of the board." Accordingly, the contract was not void, as contended, for want of proper signing on behalf of the county.
5. "After the cause is at issue, the defendant may, by an
6. The amendment to the original petition alleges also: that the contract relied upon by the defendant is void and should be canceled, because (a) the contract shows on its face that it was to be executed by "agents" of the county and only Aldredge's signature appears on behalf of the county; (b) it appears on its face to have been signed by Aldredge as an "agent" of the county, and no written authority was entered upon the official minutes of the board authorizing him to bind the county as agent; (c) it was incomplete when signed by Aldredge, since it
7. The judgment overruling some of the special demurrers as interposed by the defendant to the plaintiff's petition as amended shows no substantial error.
8. While a county contract which has not been entered of record on the minutes of the authority making it is unenforceable (Milburn v. Commissioners of Glynn County, 112 Ga. 160, 37 S. E. 178; Jones v. Bank of Cumming, 131 Ga. 614, 63 S. E. 36; Weathers v. Easterling, 153 Ga. 601, 113 S. E. 152), yet it is not for want of record alone necessarily void; and, if otherwise valid, it becomes enforceable when subsequently recorded. In other words, a county contract, otherwise valid, is not rendered void, as here contended, by not being entered of record by those whose duty it is to record it upon their minutes; but it is, through such failure, rendered unenforceable until it is recorded, and it is well settled in this State that mandamus will lie to require its record. Wagener v. Forsyth County, 135 Ga. 162 (68 S. E. 1115); King v. Casey, 164 Ga. 117 (137 S. E. 776). The statute fixes no limit of time during which a county contract may be entered of record. Weathers v. Easterling, supra. And
9. Paragraph 8 of the original petition alleges: "On October 5, 1950, during the continuation of the regular October 4th meeting of said board, the clerk advised that he had received two offers to purchase the same timber for larger sums of money and the county manager stated that an offer had been received during the afternoon of October 4, 1950, to pay the sum of $45,000 for the same timber on the same terms outlined in the Malcom offer." The defendant demurred to and moved to strike the above-quoted allegation on the ground that it constituted no basis for the recovery of any of the relief prayed for;
10. Under the law and the evidence, a verdict in favor of the defendant was demanded in this case, and the court erred in overruling the motion for a new trial. The main bill of exceptions contains several special assignments of error as to the overruling of special grounds of the motion for a new trial. While some of these grounds relate to matters which are not free from criticism, yet in view of the reversal on the general grounds, requiring another trial, it is not deemed necessary to deal with the special assignments of error. It does not seem likely, in view of the rulings in the present decision, that the questions raised by the special grounds of the motion will arise upon another trial. See Simpson v. Charters, 188 Ga. 842 (5 S.E.2d 27).
Judgment reversed on the main bill of exceptions, and affirmed on the cross-bill. All the Justices concur.