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AGO 1951 No. 023 - April 23, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

AVAILABILITY OF STATE SCHOOL EQUALIZATION FUND TO COUNTIES.

A county is entitled to moneys out of the state school equalization fund if the county enacts a tax upon sales of real property, and if the revenue received from such tax is insufficient to meet authorized expenditures.

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                                                                   April 23, 1951

Honorable Charles A. Riemcke
State Representative
Fourteenth District
2508 South 1st
Yakima, Washington                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 23

Dear Sir:

            Your letter of April 9, 1951, reads in part as follows:

            "Please advise me of the actual affect upon the appropriation of $17,350,000 from the State School Equalization Fund by S.B. 9.  [Chapter 11, Laws of 1951, Ex. Sess.]

            "* * *

            "There is an interpretation that the $17,350,000 (or as much as is necessary) is only available to those counties that levy the 1% transaction tax and is available only in the amount necessary to make up any shortage between the amount raised by the real estate tax and the amount equal to 17¢ per pupil for daily attendance."

            We conclude that:

            Before a county is entitled to moneys out of the state school equalization fund under chapter 11, Laws of 1951, Special Session (Senate Bill No. 9), it must appear that the county enacted the tax upon sales of real estate, and that the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] revenue received from such tax is insufficient to meet authorized expenditures.  In such an instance the deficit is made up out of the state school equalization fund.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 3 of chapter 11,supra reads as follows:

            "If the excise tax herein authorized shall be levied in any county for a period of twelve or any lesser number of months and it shall appear upon the first day of May of any year that such tax has not produced seventeen cents per day's attendance credit or such proportion thereof as such lesser number of months, or major fraction thereof, during which the tax was levied, bears to twelve, the deficit shall be certified by the board of county commissioners to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction as a charge against the state school equalization fund for the schools of such county.  The sum so certified shall be paid to the county treasurer from the state school equalization fund and allotted to the school districts in the same manner as other money is distributed from the county school fund."

            We note that section 4 of chapter 11, supra, repeals other statutes authorizing disbursements to counties out of the state school equalization fund.  Hence, if any payments are to be forthcoming out of the fund, they must be made in accordance with section 3 above cited.  This section provides for the payment of moneys out of the state school equalization fund upon the certification by a board of county commissioners of a "deficit."  Patently, there can only be a "deficit" if the revenue from the tax is insufficient to match authorized expenditures.  As no other disbursements from the state school equalization fund are authorized, it would seem,a fortiori that unless a county enacts the tax upon real estate sales, there will never arise the possibility of a deficit entitling the county to reimbursement out of the fund.

            Therefore, we are of the opinion that the interpretation you cite is correct.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT A. COMFORT
Assistant Attrney General

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