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March 5, 1970
Honorable John Martinis
2304 8th Street
Everett, Washington 98201
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 27
We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated February 20, 1970, requesting our opinion on a question pertaining to the levying of property taxes by a port district under RCW 53.36.070.
In your letter, you have indicated that you are asking this question on behalf of the members of the Everett port commission. Essentially, the issue you have raised is whether the two mill excess levy provided for in RCW 53.36.070, for dredging, canal construction, or land leveling or filling purposes, can be authorized on a continuing or recurring basis by the voters of the district at a single election ‑ or whether each annual excess levy must be separately authorized by the voters.
The statute in question reads as follows:
"Any port district organized under the laws of this state shall, in addition to the powers otherwise provided by law, have the power to raise revenue by the levy and collection of an annual tax on all taxable property within such port district of not to exceed two mills on each dollar of the assessed valuation of the taxable property in such port district, for dredging, canal construction, or land leveling or filling purposes, the proceeds of any such levy to be used [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] exclusively for such dredging, canal construction, or land leveling and filling purposes: Provided, That no such levy for dredging, canal construction, or land leveling or filling purposes under the provisions of RCW 53.36.070 and 53.36.080 shall be made unless and until the question of authorizing the making of such additional levy shall have been submitted to a vote of the electors of the district in the manner provided by law for the submission of the question of making additional levies in school districts of the first class at an election held under the provisions of RCW 29.13.030 and shall have been authorized by a majority of the electors voting thereon."
This statute was originally enacted by § 1, chapter 29, Laws of 1925, and was last amended by § 1, chapter 22, Laws of 1965, Ex. Sess. Notably, however, both the original 1925 enactment and the 1965 amendment contained a second section, as well. This section is presently codified as RCW 53.36.080, and reads as follows:
"Whenever such additional levy for dredging, canal construction, or land leveling or filling purposes shall have been authorized by the electors of the district at an election, held subsequent to the time of making the levy for the district for general purposes, in any year, such levy shall be certified by the port commission in the manner provided by law for certifying levies for general purposes of the district, and shall be forthwith spread and extended upon the tax rolls for the current year, and the taxes so levied and extended shall be collected in the manner provided by law for the collection of general taxes."
Reading this section together with § 1 (RCW 53.36.070), supra, we are very definitely inclined to the view that the legislature contemplated separate voter authorizations for each annual port district excess levy for dredging, canal construction, land leveling or filling purposes. Throughout both sections, the legislature has used the phrases "an annual tax," "such additional levy," etc., in the singular [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] rather than the plural. Furthermore, the special provision made in § 2 (RCW 53.36.080) for extending the special levy ". . . upon the tax rolls for the current year, . . ." where the levy election has occurred subsequent to the time of making the general port district levy also seems to evidence a legislative intent that each annual special levy be separately approved by the voters.
Presumably, of course, the Everett port commission has been in contact with its own attorney with respect to the question presented, and has (as is proper) obtained its official legal counsel from him. If such an opinion has been issued and is in any way contrary to the views which we have expressed in this letter, we would be happy to review it and give further consideration to your request should you then desire us to do so.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General