TAXATION ‑- WEED DISTRICTS, STATE OWNED LANDS, ASSESSMENT OF
State lands located within a weed district are to be assessed for weed district purposes in the same amount as if privately owned. A statement showing the amount of the tax is to be forwarded to the commissioner of public lands or director of public institutions, whichever is appropriate.
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May 13, 1952
Honorable John A. Biggs
Department of Game
509 Fairview Avenue North
Seattle 9, Washington Cite as: AGO 51-53 No. 306
You have requested an opinion whether the State Game Department is liable for weed control assessment on state owned land being used in the management of game and game fisheries resources located within county weed districts.
The conclusion reached is that the Department of Game as such is not liable for such assessments. However, the state, under statute, is obligated to provide for payment of such assessments to the various districts by an appropriation out of the general fund of the state. County treasurers should forward statements showing the amounts due for land under the jurisdiction of the State Game Department to the commissioner of public lands.
You relate that the Department of Game has purchased in the name of the state considerable acreage of land located throughout the various counties of the state; that during the past year the department has received through the offices of the county treasurers bills for assessments for weed control work within certain counties.
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RCW 17.04.180 which is quoted in full below appears to specifically answer your problem:
"Whenever there are included within a weed district any lands belonging to the county, the county commissioners shall determine the amount of the taxes for which the lands would be liable if they were private lands and they shall appropriate from the current expense fund of the county sufficient money to pay the amount. When state lands are located within a district the county treasurer shall certify annually and forward to the commissioner of public lands, or, if the land is occupied by or used in connection with any state institution, to the director of public institutions, a statement showing the amount of the tax to which the lands would be liable if they were private lands, separately describing each parcel, and the commissioner, or director, shall cause a proper record to be made in his office of the charges against the lands, and shall certify it to the state auditor thirty days previous to the convening of the biennial session of the legislature, and the state auditor shall, at the next session of the legislature, thereafter certify to it the amount of such charges and it shall provide for payment of the charges to the district by an appropriation out of the general fund of the state, with interest at six percent per year on the amount of the charges, without penalties."
It seems plain from the statute that the Department of Game is not liable for such assessments nor should they be paid from Game Department funds. Rather, such statements as your department has now received or may receive from various county treasurers should be forwarded to the office of the commissioner of public lands for his disposal.
Very truly yours,
DON CARY SMITH
Assistant Attorney General