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AGO 1953 No. 455 - January 09, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

SECOND SPECIAL ELECTION ON BOND ISSUE PROPOSITION DEFEATED IN PRIOR ELECTION.

A water district bond issue proposition defeated in September 1952 special election may be submitted again to the electors in 1953 elections.

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                                                                  January 9, 1953 

Honorable Raymond C. Sly
Prosecuting Attorney
Skamania County
Stevenson, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 455

 Dear Sir:

             Under date of January 5, 1953, you state that September 16, 1952, a special election was held in Cold Springs Water District of Skamania County to vote on two propositions:  Acquisition of an old water system, which received a favorable majority vote; and the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $10,000, payable from the annual tax levies to be in excess of the 40 mill tax limitation for the purpose of acquiring the existing system and the water and water rights therefrom and constituting a new system, the bonds to mature in not to exceed twenty years.  While the second proposition carried by a majority vote, it did not receive the affirmative vote of a three‑fifths majority of those voting on the proposition as required by the statute.

             You request an opinion whether Cold Springs Water District may call another special election immediately to vote on the above‑described bond issue proposition which was defeated in the September 16, 1952, special election.

             It is the opinion of this office that your inquiry should be answered in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

             Any water district may issue, pursuant to RCW 84.52.050 to 84.52.056, general obligation bonds in excess of the forty mill tax limit, when authorized so to do at  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] an election duly held.  Such an election for that purpose shall not be held oftener than twice in anycalendar year, and the proposition to issue such bonds and to exceed the tax limitation of forty mills must receive the affirmative vote of a three‑fifths majority of those voting on the proposition and the total number of persons voting at such election must constitute not less than forty percent of the voters in said district who voted at the last preceding general state election. RCW 84.52.056; 17th Amendment to State Constitution.

             RCW 84.52.052 respecting prescribed procedure for authorization of excess levies reads as follows:

             "The limitations imposed by RCW 84.52.050 to 84.52.056, inclusive, shall not prevent the levy of additional taxes, not in excess of five mills a year and without anticipation of delinquencies in payment of taxes, in an amount equal to the interest and principal payable in the next succeeding year on general obligation bonds, outstanding on December 6, 1934, issued by or through the agency of the state, or any county, city, town, or school district, or the levy of additional taxes to pay interest on or toward the reduction, at the rates provided by statute, of the principal of county, city, town, or school district warrants outstanding on December 6, 1932; but this millage limitation with respect to general obligation bonds shall not apply to any taxing district in which a larger levy is necessary in order to prevent the impairment of the obligation of contracts.  Any county, school district, metropolitan park district, sewer district, water district, public hospital district, rural county library district, inter-county rural library district, fire protection districts, city, or town may levy taxes at a rate in excess of the rate specified in RCW 84.52.050 to 84.52.056, inclusive, when authorized so to do by the electors of such county, school district, metropolitan park district, sewer district, water district, public hospital district, rural county library district, inter-county rural library district, fire protection district, city or town by a three‑fifths majority of those voting on the proposition at a special election,  to be held in the year in which the levy is made, and not oftener than twice in such year, in the manner  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] provided by law for holding general elections, at such time as may be fixed by the body authorized to call the same, which special election may be called by the board of county commissioners, board of school directors, or council, board of commissioners, or other governing body of any metropolitan park district, sewer district, water district, public hospital district, rural county library district, inter-county rural library district, fire protection district, city or town, by giving notice thereof for two successive weeks by publication and posting in the manner provided by law for giving notices of general elections, at which special election the proposition of authorizing such excess levy shall be submitted in such form as to enable the voters favoring the proposition to vote 'Yes,' and those opposed thereto to vote 'No:'  Provided, That the total number of persons voting at such special election must constitute not less than forty percent of the voters in said taxing district who voted at the last preceding general state election."

             The language "voting on the proposition at a special election, to be held in the year in which the levy is made" may not be wrested from the statute (chapter 23, Laws 2nd Ex. Sess. 1951.)  While it is incorporated into and made a part of RCW 84.52.052, the section (RCW 84.52.056) pertaining to elections to authorize excess levies for capital purposes is also governed thereby.  It follows that the water district commissioners may immediately call a special election, pursuant to RCW 84.52.052, RCW 84.52.056 and the 17th Amendment to the State Constitution on bond issue proposition, levies for payment of which, if approved by the electors in such special election, will be fixed in the final budget in October of each year.

 Very truly yours,
SMITH TROY
Attorney General

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