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AGO 1951 No. 064 - June 07, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

FIRE PROTECTIONDISTRICTS ‑- WATERDISTRICTS ‑- TAX POWER ‑- YEARS FOR WHICH AUTHORIZED.

Under chapter 107, Laws of 1951, water districts may not levy any ad valorem property taxes in 1951 or subsequent years, except to retire certain indebtedness outstanding on April 1, 1951.

Under chapter 107, Laws of 1951, fire protection districts may levy ad valorem property taxes in 1951 for collection in 1952, but may not levy such taxes in 1952 or subsequent years, except to retire certain indebtedness outstanding on April 1, 1951.

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                                                                    June 7, 1951

Honorable John J. O'Connell
Prosecuting Attorney
Pierce County
Court House
Tacoma, Washington                                                                                                    Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 64

Attention:  !ttMr. Valen H. Honeywell, Jr., Chief Civil Deputy

Dear Sir:

            We have your request for our opinion on the following question:

            Under chapter 107, Laws of 1951, for what years may fire protection districts and water districts continue to levy ad valorem property taxes?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            Under chapter 107, Laws of 1951, water districts may not levy anyad valorem property taxes in 1951 or subsequent years, except to retire certain indebtedness outstanding on April 1, 1951.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Under chapter 107, Laws of 1951, fire protection districts may levyad valorem property taxes in 1951 for collection in 1952, but may not levy such taxes in 1952 or subsequent years, except to retire certain indebtedness outstanding on April 1, 1951.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 107, Laws of 1951, drastically changed the methods by which weed, fire protection, sewer, and water districts will henceforth raise their revenues, that enactment providing for the elimination of property tax levies and the substitution therefor of special assessments.  Section 2 thereof, pertaining to fire protection districts, reads in part as follows:

            "In the year 1952 and subsequent years no tax levy shall be made by any district except for the purpose of retiring indebtedness outstanding on April 1, 1951, for which tax revenue of the district shall have been pledged.  * * *"

            Section 4, pertaining to water districts, provides, in part:

            "For the year 1952 and subsequent years no taxes shall be levied by any district except for the purpose of paying bond and warrant indebtedness outstanding on April 1, 1951, for which the tax revenues of the district shall have been pledged.  * * *"

            While almost identical in form, section 2 provides that "no tax levy shall be made" by a fire protection district "[i]n the year 1952 and subsequent years," while section 4 provides that "no taxes shall be levied" by a water district "[f]or the year 1952 and subsequent years."  It will be noted that section 3, dealing with sewer districts, uses the same form as section 4.

            Property taxes are levied in one year for collection in the following year.  Such taxes are for use in the year in which they are due and payable, the taxing district's budget anticipating such revenue.  They are known and designated as taxes of the year in which they become due.  Section 2, chapter 136, Laws of 1939 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 11112-2).  Thus "1952 taxes" are those levied in 1951 and which are due and payable and for use in 1952.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            In section 4, no reference is made to the year in which the levy is made, but for which it is made.  If no taxes are to be levied by a water district for the year 1952, then it follows that no levy may be madein 1951.  On the other hand, fire protection districts are expressly instructed concerning the yearin which the levy shall be made, not for which it is made.  If no taxes are to be leviedin the year 1952, then 1953 taxes are prohibited, but the power to taxin the year 1951 for 1952, granted by section 36, chapter 34, Laws of 1939 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 5654-136), remains.

            It is speculative as to whether the legislature intended to make this distinction in language.  However, where the language is clear, precise and unambiguous a statute means exactly what it says; there is no room for construction.  Shelton Hotel Co. v. Bates, 4 Wn. (2d) 498, 508, 104 P. (2d) 478.  It is our opinion that the provisions of sections 2 and 4, chapter 107, Laws of 1951, relative to the continuation of the taxing power are clearly and precisely written.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

C. JOHN NEWLANDS
Assistant Attorney General

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