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AGLO 1975 No. 92 - December 03, 1975
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

TAXATION ‑- PROPERTY ‑- COUNTIES ‑- HEALTH ‑- RATE OF PROPERTY TAX FOR PUBLIC HEALTH WORK

The increased rate of property taxation for public health work in each county which is provided for by RCW 70.12.010, as amended by § 1, chapter 291, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., is applicable both to 1975 taxes to be collected in 1976 and 1976 taxes to be collected in 1977.

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                                                                December 3, 1975

Honorable Alan Thompson
State Representative, 18th District
112 Pleasant Hill Lane
Kelso, Washington 98626                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1975 No. 92

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have directed our attention to the provisions of RCW 70.12.010, as recently amended by § 1, chapter 291, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess.  Set forth in bill form for ease of comprehension, this 1975 amendment reads as follows:

            "Each board of county commissioners shall annually budget and levy as a tax for public health work in its county a sum equal to the amount which would be raised by a levy of ((four and one half)) nine cents per thousand dollars of assessed value against the taxable property in the county, but nothing herein contained shall prohibit a county from obtaining said public health funds from any other source of county revenue or from budgeting additional sums for public health work.

            "This section shall expire on January 1, 1977."

            In addition you have noted that chapter 291, supra, contained an emergency clause (§ 46) so as to cause § 1 thereof to have taken effect when signed into law by the governor on July 2, 1975.

            Based upon the foregoing you have asked the following two questions:

            "1. Does the nine cent tax apply to 1975 taxes to be collected in 1976?

            "2. Does the nine cent tax apply to 1976 taxes to be collected in 1977?"

            We believe that both of these questions are answerable in the affirmative.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]                       ANALYSIS

            The key to your questions is to be found in the statutory timetable which governs the levying and collection of property taxes in our state.  First to be noted is RCW 84.52.030, which specifies the time when levies are to be made ‑ as follows:

            "For the purpose of raising revenue for state, county and other taxing district purposes, the board of county commissioners of each county at its October session, and all other officials or boards authorized by law to levy taxes for taxing district purposes, shall levy taxes on all the taxable property in the county or district, as the case may be, sufficient for such purposes, and within the limitations permitted by law."

            Similarly, RCW 36.40.070 and 36.40.071 provide, respectively, as follows with respect to the related county budget process:

            RCW 36.40.070:

            "On the first Monday in October in each year the board of county commissioners shall meet at the time and place designated in the notice, whereat any taxpayer may appear and be heard for or against any part of the budget.  The hearing may be continued from day to day until concluded but not to exceed a total of five days.  The officials in charge of the several offices, departments, services, and institutions shall, at the time the estimates for their respective offices, departments, services or institutions are under consideration be called in and appear before such hearing by the board at the request of any taxpayer and may be questioned concerning such estimates by the commissioners or any taxpayer present."

            RCW 36.40.071:

            "Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the board of county commissioners may meet for the purpose of holding a budget hearing, provided for in RCW 36.40.070, on the first Monday in December.  The board of county commissioners may also set other dates relating to the budget process, including but  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] not limited to the dates set in RCW 36.40.010, 36.40.050, and 36.81.130 to conform to the alternate date for the budget hearing."

            The collection of the property taxes thus levied ‑ for the purpose of funding the county budget thus formulated ‑ however, does not take place until the following calendar year.  Specifically, one‑half of the property taxes levied in a particular year are to be paid by April 30 of the following year and the remainder are to be paid by October 31 of that year.  RCW 84.56.020 and 84.56.070.

            With this in mind let us now return to § 1, chapter 291, supra.  Under the amendment to RCW 70.12.010 which is contained therein, each board of county commissioners is presently required annually to budget and levy as a tax for public health work in its county

            ". . . a sum equal to the amount which would be raised by a levy of nine cents per thousand dollars of assessed value against the taxable property in the county, . . ."

            This requirement took effect on July 2, 1975, when the act was signed by the governor, replacing a previous mandatory levy for public health work of four and one‑half cents per thousand dollars of assessed value of the taxable property in each county.  It will henceforth remain in effect until January 1, 1977 ‑ at which time § 1, chapter 291,supra, will by its own terms "expire."  At that time, assuming no further legislative action, the tax rate will again revert to its previous four and one‑half cent level.

            The critical point, however, is that the nine cent rate was and will be in effect at the time of both the 1975 tax levy (for 1976 collection) and at the time of the 1976 levy (for 1977 collection).  Accordingly, it follows that unless the legislature provides otherwise this increased rate will be applicable with respect to the taxes to be levied by a county for public health work in each of those two calendar years.  For this reason we believe the proper answer to both of your questions is in the affirmative.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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