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AGO 1953 No. 471 - January 27, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

FIRE PATROL ASSESSMENTS ‑- FOREST LANDS ‑- MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS ‑- WHETHER A FIRE PATROL ASSESSMENT LEVIED UNDER RCW 76.04.360 AGAINST A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION WHICH OWNS FOREST LANDS VIOLATES ARTICLE XI, SECTION 12 OF THE WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION. 

A fire patrol assessment levied pursuant to RCW 76.04.360 against a municipal corporation which owns forest lands does not violate Article XI, section 12 of the Washington State Constitution.   

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                                                                 January 27, 1953

Honorable Don G. Abel
Prosecuting Attorney
Grays Harbor County
Aberdeen, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 471

 Dear Sir:

             We acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 21, 1953, in which you request an opinion whether RCW 76.04.360, violates Article XI, section 12 of the Washington State Constitution when applied to municipal corporations that hold title to forest lands.

             Our conclusion is that it does not.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             Article XI, section 12 of the Washington State Constitution reads as follows:

             "Assessment and Collection of Taxes in Municipalities.  The legislature shall have no power to impose taxes upon counties, cities, towns or other municipal corporations, or upon the inhabitants or property thereof, for county, city, town, or other municipal  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] purposes, but may, by general laws, vest in the corporate authorities thereof, the power to assess and collect taxes for such purposes."

             Since this constitutional limitation on the taxing power applies only to taxes which are for "county, city, town, or other municipal purposes," we are of the opinion that it is not violated by RCW 76.04.360.  This statute was enacted to provide fire protection to forest lands when the owner of such lands fails (or refuses) to provide such protection.  The protection of forest lands in this state, irrespective of who owns them, is a matter of public concern and involves the welfare of the whole state.  The levy provided for in the statute is not merely for local purposes, and does not fall within the limitation set forth in Article XI, section 12.

             We are of the opinion that the city of Hoquiam must pay the assessments levied under RCW 76.04.360, and that Article XI, section 12 of the Constitution is not violated by such a requirement.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

WILLIAM C. HALLIN
Assistant Attorney General

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