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AGLO 1973 No. 108 - November 20, 1973
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- LIQUOR BOARD ‑- TAXES ‑- COUNTIES ‑- ALCOHOLISM ADMINISTRATIVE BOARDS ‑- RECEIPT OF LIQUOR TAXES BY CITIES AND COUNTIES
 
Extent to which an alcoholism administrative board is required in order for a city and county to receive liquor taxes and profits under chapter 70.96 RCW, as amended by chapter 155, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess.
 
                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
                                                               November 20, 1973
 
Honorable Charles Morris
Secretary, Department of
Social and Health Services
P.O. Box 1788
Olympia, Washington 98504
                                                                                                             Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 108
 
Dear Sir:
 
            By recent letter you asked for our opinion on the following question:
 
            Is an alcoholism administrative board required in order for a city and county to receive liquor taxes and profits under chapter 70.96 RCW, as amended by chapter 155, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess.?
 
            We answer this question in the affirmative.
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            As you have noted in your letter, this same question was previously considered, and affirmatively answered, in a memorandum opinion written by Assistant Attorney General William Collins on October 4, 1973.  We will treat your current inquiry, therefore, as simply being a request for our formal review and confirmation of the informal advice contained in that memorandum.
 
            In order to place your question in proper focus let us first note the various existing statutes under which liquor taxes and profits are made distributable to cities and counties in this state.  To begin with RCW 82.08.150 imposes certain excise taxes upon the sale at retail in state liquor stores and agencies of a number of designated categories of intoxicating liquor "in the original package."  These tax revenues are collected by the state liquor control board and remitted by it to the department of revenue under RCW 82.08.160, to be deposited with the state treasurer who then credits sixty-five percent to the state general fund and thirty-five percent to the "liquor excise tax fund."  RCW 82.08.170 requires the quarterly apportionment and distribution of the liquor excise tax fund on the basis of twenty percent to the counties of the state in accordance with RCW 43.66.100 (now RCW 66.08.200), and eighty percent to the cities and towns of the state in accordance with RCW 43.66.110 (now RCW 66.08.210).
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            In addition, and separate and apart from this procedure for the collection and distribution of these excise tax revenues, RCW 66.08.170 establishes a fund, known as the "liquor revolving fund," consisting of
 
            ". . . all license fees, permit fees, penalties, forfeitures, and all other moneys, income, or revenue received by the [state liquor control] board.  . . ."1/
 
             RCW 66.08.180 then provides for the distribution of moneys in this revolving fund, and it states, in material part, that:
 
            "Moneys in the liquor revolving fund shall be distributed by the board at least once every three months in accordance with RCW 66.08.190, 66.08.200 and 66.08.210:  . . . And provided further, That twenty percent of the total amount derived from license fees pursuant to RCW 66.24.320, 66.24.330, 66.24.340, 66.24.350, 66.24.360, and 66.24.370, as such sections are now or hereafter amended, shall be transferred to the general fund to be used by the department of health solely to carry out the purposes of RCW 70.96.085, as now or hereafter amended.  . . ."
 
            RCW 66.08.190, to which reference is made in the first portion of RCW 66.08.180 above quoted, provides for the distribution of moneys from the liquor revolving fund to counties, cities and towns as follows:
 
            "When excess funds are distributed, all moneys subject to distribution shall be disbursed as follows:
 
            "Fifty percent to the general fund of the state, ten percent to the counties of the state, and forty percent to the  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] incorporated cities and towns of the state."
 
            With all of these various statutory provisions in mind by way of background, we turn, now, to chapter 155, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess.  By § 2 of this act the legislature provided that:
 
            "Any county or combination of counties acting jointly by agreement, hereinafter referred to as 'county', may create an alcoholism administrative board.  Such board shall be composed of not less than seven nor more than fifteen members, who shall be representative of the community, shall include at least two recovered alcoholics, and shall include consumer and minority group representation.  No more than four elected or appointed city or county officials may serve on such board at the same time.  Members of the board shall serve three year terms and until their successors are appointed and qualified.  They shall not be compensated for the performance of their duties as members of the board, but may be paid subsistence rates and mileage in the amounts prescribed by RCW 36.17.030 as now or hereafter amended.
 
            "The alcoholism administrative board, the county and the department of social and health services shall, in the area of alcoholism prevention, treatment and education, and the administration, planning and funding thereof, have the same duties, responsibilities, powers, liabilities and authorities as are provided by chapter 71.24 RCW with respect to the mental health administrative board, the county and the department of social and health services.
 
            "An executive director of the board may be appointed by the county commissioners subject to the approval of the board.  Applicants for such position need not be residents of the county, city or state, and may be employed on a full or part time basis."
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]
            And then, by § 3, the legislature amended the preexisting provisions of RCW 70.96.096 to read as follows:
 
            "In order to be eligible to receive its share of liquor taxes and profits, each city and county shall be required to devote no less than two percent of such share of liquor taxes and profits to the support of an alcoholism program approved by the alcoholism administrative board authorized by section 2 of this 1973 amendatory act and the secretary of the state department of social and health services."  (Emphasis supplied.)
 
            The question you have posed is whether, even though the creation of an alcoholism administrative board under § 2, supra, is permissive, the lack of such a board within a given area will jeopardize the right of the cities and counties located therein to receive any share of liquor taxes and profits otherwise distributable to them under RCW 82.08.170 and RCW 66.08.190, supra.  Mr. Collins, in his memorandum of opinion of October 4, 1973, supra, answered this question in the affirmative and this office is officially in full agreement with that conclusion.  By virtue of the amendment contained in § 3, chapter 155, supra, a city or county is now required, in order to receive its share of liquor taxes and profits, to devote no less than two percent of such share to the support of an alcoholism program approved not only by the secretary of the state department of social and health services, as before2/ but, in addition, by ". . . the alcoholism administrative board authorized by section 2 of this 1973 amendatory act . . ."
 
            Accordingly, although the establishment of such a board within a given geographic area is permissive rather than mandatory, it follows that unless one has been established so as to be able to grant its approval to the alcoholism program being supported by a given county or city, that county or city will not be able to  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] meet the requirements of RCW 70.96.096, supra, as amended, and, therefore, will not be eligible to receive its share of liquor taxes and profits.
 
            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
 
Very truly yours,
 
SLADE GORTON
Attorney General
 
 
PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General
 
 
                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***
 
1/The only tax revenues going into this fund, we should note and underscore, are those imposed under RCW 66.24.210 and 66.24.290 upon the manufacture and sale of wine and beer in this state by domestic wineries or breweries.
 
2/See, § 2, chapter 77, Laws of 1972, Ex. Sess.
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