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AGO 1952 No. 294 - May 05, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

EXCESS LEVY BY RURAL LIBRARY DISTRICT

A county rural library district may vote a levy in excess of the forty mill limit but not in excess of two mills.

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                                                                    May 5, 1952

Honorable Maryan E. Reynolds
State Librarian
Temple of Justice
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 294

Dear Madam:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of April 14, in which you inquire as to whether chapter 23 of the Second Extraordinary Session of 1951 could be interpreted to permit a rural county library district to go before the voters with a request for a special levy over and above the forty mills to be used for the erection of a headquarters building.

            It is our conclusion that a county rural library district may, with the approval of the requisite number of voters, make a special levy above forty mills, but is limited to a maximum levy of two mills per annum.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Rural county library districts derive their right to levy taxes from section 27.12.050 RCW (Section 11, chapter 75, Laws of 1947, Rem. 1947 Supp. 8226-4a) which provides:

            "After the board of county commissioners has declared a rural county library district established, it shall appoint a board of library trustees and provide funds for the establishment and maintenance of  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] library service for the district by making a tax levy on the property in the district of not more than two mills a year sufficient for the library service, as shown to be required by the budget submitted to the board of county commissioners by the board of library trustees.  Such levy shall be a part of the general tax roll and shall be collected as a part of the general taxes against the property in the district."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Rural county library districts by this organic act are limited to an overall levy of two mills per year.  Our Supreme Court in the case of State ex rel. Finance Committee v. Yelle, 33 Wn. (2d) 940, 207 P. (2d) 730, held that a similar limitation in the law relative to hospital districts constituted an overall limitation independent of other limitations contained in the forty mill law.  Amendment 17 to the State Constitution prohibits the levying of an aggregate of all millages in excess of forty mills except under certain circumstances.  This is implemented by RCW 84.52.010 and 84.52.050, the first of which calls for prorating of the levies of the various taxing agencies when their aggregate would exceed forty mills.  The latter, as amended by chapter 23, Laws of Second Ex. Session of 1951, contains the following:

            "* * * Any county, school district, metropolitan park district, sewer district, water district, public hospital district, rural county library district, inter-county [[intercounty]]rural library district, fire protection district, city, or town may levy taxes at a rate in excess of the rate specified in this act, 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 provided by law for holding general elections at such time as may be fixed by the body authorized to call the same, * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The authority conferred by chapter 23, Laws of 2nd Ex. Session of 1951 is unlimited as to the purpose for which the excess levy shall be made.  This is express authority to make a levy that will exceed the forty mill tax limitation.  It is not authority for exceeding the two mill limitation contained in the library statute, RCW 27.12.050.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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