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AGLO 1979 No. 35 - October 10, 1979
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- COUNTY ‑- TREASURER ‑- TAXATION ‑- SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS ‑- IMPOSITION FEES FOR SERVICES BY COUNTY TREASURER

The provisions of RCW 36.29.180 only authorize a county treasurer to charge and collect a fee for his services in handling, collecting, disbursing and accounting for funds collected pursuant to the assessment rolls of a political subdivision as distinguished from the county's own assessment rolls for ad valorem property tax purposes.

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                                                                October 10, 1979

Honorable George F. Hanigan
Prosecuting Attorney
Wahkiakum County
P. O. Box 39
Cathlamet, Washington 98612                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1979 No. 35

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you posed to us the following question:

            "Do the provisions of RCW 36.29.180 apply to any and all assessment rolls of political subdivisions of a county, excluding irrigation districts, including their annual general purpose assessment, or to local improvement district assessment rolls for particular projects only?"

            We respond in the manner set forth below.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 36.29.180, which originated as § 1, chapter 270, Laws of 1961 and was recodified (along with the remainder of Title 36 RCW) by chapter 4, Laws of 1963, reads, in full, as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The county treasurer, in all instances where required by law to handle, collect, disburse and account for the funds collected pursuant to the assessment roll of any political subdivision within the county, may charge and collect a fee for his services according to but not to exceed the following schedule:

            "For up to a five year term assessment roll, a fee of two dollars per account;

            "For a six to ten year term assessment roll, a fee of three dollars per account;

            "For an eleven to fifteen year term assessment roll, a fee of four dollars per account;

            "For an assessment roll of over fifteen years, a fee of five dollars per account.

            "Such fees shall be a charge against the district, shall be included as a part of the cost of the improvement, and shall be credited to the county current expense fund by the county treasurer from moneys received following publication of the assessment roll.  The provisions of this section shall not apply to irrigation district assessments."

            Clearly, insofar as the first issue raised by your question is concerned, this statute, by its express language, applies to any political subdivision within a county‑-with the single exception stated, of irrigation districts.  Thus, undoubtedly, the statute applies to all other political subdivisions for which the county treasurer is ". . . required by law to handle, collect, disburse and account for the funds collected pursuant to the assessment roll . . ." thereof.

            Within that statutory frame of reference, however, two further points should be noted.  First, it will be seen that the statute does not apply to those political subdivisions, such as cities and towns, which have their own treasurers and thus handle all collection matters related to their own assessment rolls.  And secondly, as related to the further issue raised by your question, the only assessment rolls handled by a county treasurer which fall within the scope of the statute are the assessment rolls of other political subdivisions, as distinguished from the county's own assessment rolls compiled and maintained by the county assessor for general ad valorem property tax purposes under  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] RCW 84.52.010, et seq.  Even though the various political subdivisions within the county (or at least some of them) derive revenues from both regular and excess property tax levies, the assessment rolls related to those property tax levies do not constitute assessment rolls of the particular subdivision but, instead, are the assessment rolls of the county or counties within which those districts or other political subdivisions are situated.  Conversely, such things as assessment rolls for local improvements, or assessments against only those landowners receiving benefits from the district (e.g., but for the express exclusion in the statute, irrigation district assessments under RCW 87.03.240, et seq.), being assessment rolls of the particular political subdivision and not of the county in which it is situated, are within the purview of the subject statute.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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