A disagreement over some old office furniture has triggered an intergovernmental squabble that may result in Salt Lake County filing suit against the state for breach of contract.

The county says the state Division of Surplus Property has refused to hand over more than $5,000 the division took in when it auctioned off some furniture from the old City-County Building.While the matter could yet be settled without a lawsuit, county commissioners have given the county attorney's office permission to take the division to court if a negotiated settlement can't be reached.

When the county moved into its new Government Center it agreed to have the division auction its old office furniture. The May 1987 agreement called for the auction proceeds to be divided with the county getting 80 percent and the division getting 20 percent for its services.

The furniture auction brought more than $11,000, but the division returned to the county only $3,400. Following a county inquiry, division director William A. Arseneau wrote the county attorney's office saying the division in July 1987 had adjusted the rates charged government entities for auction services.