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AGO 1955 No. 11 - January 17, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTIES ‑- HOSPITALS ‑- TAX LEVY ‑- LIMITATION.

A county must levy a tax under RCW 36.62.090, for hospital purposes, but in doing so may not exceed the eight mill limitation imposed under RCW 84.52.050.

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                                                                 January 17, 1955 

Honorable John Panesko
Prosecuting Attorney
Lewis County Court House
Chehalis, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 11

 Dear Sir:

            You have asked whether or not we still adhere to the opinion of May 31, 1932, addressed to the prosecuting attorney of Pierce County.  We ruled in that opinion that the levy authorized for county hospitals under § 6, chapter 174, Laws of 1925 Ex. Sess., could be made in addition to the county current expense fund maximum levy of eight mills.

             In our opinion subsequent legislation has rendered the conclusion expressed therein inapplicable.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

             RRS § 11238, in force at the time of our 1932 opinion, stated that "the tax for county current expense shall not exceed eight mills".  Section 6, chapter 174, Laws of 1925, Ex. Sess., now RCW 36.62.090, provides as follows:

             "If the hospital is established, the board of county commissioners, at the time of levying general taxes, shall levy a tax at the rate voted, not to exceed two mills in any one year, for the maintenance of the hospital."

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In the 1932 opinion, we said that in view of RRS § 11238, § 6, chapter 174, Laws of 1925 Ex. Sess., contemplates a special levy, which may be assessed in addition to the eight mills authorized forcounty current expense purposes.  The opinion evidently recognized that RRS § 11238 limited specific levies, including thecurrent expense fund levy, and that § 6, chapter 174, Laws of 1925 Ex. Sess., authorized an additional levy for hospital purposes.

             RCW 84.52.050, as amended in 1953, enacted pursuant to Amendment 17 of the Washington Constitution, provides that "the levy by any county shall not exceed eight mills".  This provision limitsall levies by the county.  Therefore, it would appear that the county must not exceed eight mills in any event.

             This office has previously held, however, that § 6, chapter 174, Laws of 1925, (RCW 36.62.090) imposes a duty upon the county to levy a tax for the maintenance of county hospitals where such have been established.  AGO 51-53 No. 245 [[to J. A. Kahl, Department of Health on March 3, 1952]].  It is our opinion that though the duty to levy a tax for hospital purposes is mandatory, it must be done within the eight mill limitation imposed by RCW 84.52.050 (1953 Supp.), except where the voters authorize an excess levy under RCW 84.52.052 (1953 Supp.).

 Very truly yours,
 DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

EDWARD M. LANE
Assistant Attorney General

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