TAXES -- THREE MILL LEVY BY METROPOLITAN PARK DISTRICTS
Chapters 229, 230 and 231, Laws of 1949, do not preempt for the state the three mill tax levy authorized for Metropolitan Park District purposes until the legislature specifically so provides.
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December 28, 1949
Honorable Gordon J. Brown
Representative, Twenty-Ninth District
237 Farallone Avenue, Fircrest
Tacoma, Washington Cite as: AGO 49-51 No. 187
We are in receipt of your letter of December 10, 1949, in which you ask the following question:
Do sections 5, chapters, 229, 230 and 231, Laws of 1949 preempt for the state the three mill tax levy authorized for metropolitan park district purposes in the event these chapters are adopted and ratified in the next general election?
Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:
Until the legislature provides specifically that the three mill tax levy shall be preempted to the use of the state the authority of the metropolitan park districts to levy such taxes remains effective.
Chapters 229, 230 and 231, Laws of 1949, are acts providing respectively for the construction of public school plant facilities, for the construction of needful buildings at the state operated charitable, educational, and penal institutions, and for the construction of needful buildings at the state institutions of higher learning. These acts authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds of the state to finance these programs, such bonds to pledge the full faith and credit of the State of Washington and to contain unconditional promises to pay the principal and interest when due. The acts further provide that the amounts needed to meet the bond retirement and interest requirements "shall be a first and prior charge against all retail sales tax revenues of the State of Washington." Section 5 in each of these chapters is identical and reads as follows:
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"The Legislature may provide additional means for raising moneys for the payment of the interest and principal of the bonds authorized herein and this act shall not be deemed to provide an exclusive method for such payment."
This section simply states the inherent and existing power of the legislature to prescribe additional means for financing the payment of interest and principal on any bonds of this type.
Section 1, chapter 171, Laws of 1947 (6741-5 Rem. Supp. 1947), authorizes an annual levy by the board of park commissioners of the metropolitan park district not to exceed three mills for park district purposes. Assuming chapters 229, 230 and 231 are adopted and ratified by the electors and that the means provided to finance the programs thereunder, that is, retail sales tax revenues prove inadequate, the legislature may subsequently preempt for that purpose the millage now allocated to metropolitan park districts. However, an act especially preempting this millage to the state would be necessary to curtail or revoke the authority under section 1, chapter 117, Laws of 1947.
It is, therefore, our opinion that until the legislature does so act, the authority of the metropolitan park districts to levy a tax not to exceed three mills on property located within such district remains in full force and effect.
Yours very truly,
LAWRENCE K. McCONELL
Assistant Attorney General