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AGO 1950 No. 375 - October 25, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTIES ‑- BONDS ‑- TOTAL COUNTY INDEBTEDNESS LIMITED TO FIVE PER CENT OF TAXABLE PROPERTY

A county may not issue bonds for county purposes for the full amount of five per cent and also issue county road bonds for an additional five per cent of the taxable property.

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                                                                October 25, 1950

Honorable Robert S. Campbell
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County Court House
Ephrata, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 375

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of October 19, 1950, you requested our opinion on whether a county may issue bonds pursuant to section 5577 of Rem. Rev. Stat. for the full amount of five per cent of the taxable property and at the same time issue road bonds pursuant to section 5592 Rem. Rev. Stat. for another five per cent of the taxable property.

            Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

            A county may not issue bonds for county purposes for the full amount of five per cent and also issue county road bonds for an additional five per cent of the taxable property.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, p. 587, Laws of 1917 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5605), provides, in part:

            "No taxing district shall for any purpose become indebted in any manner to an amount exceeding one and one‑half per centum of the last assessed valuation of the taxable property in such taxing  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] district, without the assent of three‑fifths of the voters therein voting at an election to be held for that purpose, nor in cases requiring such assent shall the total indebtedness at any time exceed five per centum of the last assessed valuation of the taxable property in such taxing district * * *"

            A taxing district includes counties.  Section 4, p. 589, Laws of 1917 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5608).

            Section 5605,supra, in our opinion prohibits a county from becoming indebted in any manner in excess of five per cent of the taxable property.  This section is practically identical to Art. VIII, section 6, of our state constitution which limits the indebtedness of counties, cities, school districts and municipal corporations to five per cent of the value of the taxable property.  Consequently, a county may only issue bonds up to five per cent of the taxable property, and this regardless of the various statutes authorizing counties to issue bonds.  In light of this it is our opinion that sections 5577 and 5592 cannot be construed to allow for an indebtedness of ten per cent of the taxable property.  Thus, section 5605,supra, and Art. VIII, section 6, of our constitution limit the total indebtedness allowed a county for any purpose at any time to five per cent of the taxable property.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General

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