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AGLO 1970 No. 143 - November 06, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
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                                                                November 6, 1970
Honorable L. Edward Brown
Prosecuting Attorney
Grays Harbor County
P.O. Box 529
Montesano, Washington 98563
                                                                                                             Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 143
Dear Sir:
            This is written in further response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on two questions pertaining to the effect upon county ad valorem property taxation of the incorporation of the Ocean Shores Peninsula as a noncharter code city under chapter 35A.03 RCW.
            We are advised that the proposition for incorporation of this area was approved by a majority of the voters at the recent November 3, 1970 election.1/   Your request, which was submitted to us prior to this election but which, for policy reasons previously explained, we declined to answer until afterwards, assumed this result and asked the following specific questions with respect to county property taxes levied in October 1970 for collection in 1971:
            (1)  Is Grays Harbor county entitled to use for general county purposes the tax money, when collected, for taxes levied in 1970 payable in 1971?
            (2)  Under these same circumstances, would the road district be entitled to the taxes levied in 1970, payable in 1971, or would all of such road district taxes collected for property in the area which became incorporated as a noncharter code city be paid over to the city treasury?
            As you have indicated in your letter, authorized ad valorem property taxes for county purposes are divided into  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] two basic categories; taxes for general county purposes, and taxes for county road district purposes.  Those taxes, both within and in excess of the constitutional 40 mill limit, which are levied for general county purposes are to be levied on a uniform basis throughout the entire county ‑ both within and without the areas of incorporated cities and towns.  On the other hand, those taxes which are levied for road district purposes are only to be levied within those areas of the county not occupied by an incorporated city or town.  See, RCW 36.75.060, under which the territory of any incorporated city or town is excluded from boundaries of a county road district; also RCW 36.82.040, which contains the general authority for levying county road district property taxes.
            From this it follows that irrespective of when a city or town is deemed to have become incorporated for property tax purposes, the fact of incorporation of such a municipality will have no effect upon either existing or future "general purpose" county ad valorem property tax levies.
            Moreover, in so far as the factual situation underlying your question is concerned, even if the incorporation of the city of Ocean Shores were to be of some significance with respect to the general property taxing authority of the county, it is evident from the provisions of RCW 35A.84.010 that an incorporation occurring sometime after the November 3, 1970 election would have no effect upon general county property taxes levied in October of 1970, for collection in 1971. This statute states, in material part, as follows:
            "The taxation of property in code cities shall be governed by general provisions of the law including, but not limited to, the provisions of:  (1) Chapter 84.09 RCW, relating to the time for establishment of official boundaries of taxing districts on the first day of March of each year; . . ."
            The pertinent portion of chapter 84.09 RCW, to which reference is thus made, is RCW 84.09.030, which reads, in material part, as follows:
            "For the purposes of property taxation and the levy of property taxes the boundaries of counties, cities and all other taxing districts shall be the established official boundaries of such districts existing on the first day of March of the year in which the levy is made, and no such  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] levy shall be made for any taxing district whose boundaries were not duly established on the first day of March of such year.  . . ."
            Accordingly, we answer your first question in the affirmative.
            Your second question, pertaining to the distribution of county road district taxes levied in 1970, for collection in 1971, must be answered somewhat differently.  Here, of course, (as above indicated) the incorporation of the noncharter code city of Ocean Shores will ultimately exclude the county from levying and collecting county road district taxes within the area of the incorporated city.  Since, under the provisions of RCW 35A.03.120 ‑ 35A.03.130, it appears logical to assume that the effective date of this incorporation will arrive well in advance of March 1, 1971, this result will be fully felt for the first time in connection with the 1971-72 levy and collection cycle.  Accord, RCW 84.09.030, supra.
            In the meantime, i.e., with regard to county road district taxes levied in October of 1970, for collection in 1971, the distribution of these revenues will be governed by the following provisions of RCW 35A.03.150:

            "Whenever any territory which is part of a road district of the county becomes a part of an incorporated noncharter code city, and any road district taxes have been levied on any property within such territory, the county treasurer, upon collection of such taxes, shall pay to the code city treasurer a pro rata share of such taxes in the proportion which the remaining period of the assessment year after the effective date of the incorporation bears to the total assessment year.  Such moneys shall be placed by the city treasurer in the city street fund:  Provided, That this section shall not apply to any special assessments due in behalf of such property."
            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***
1/According to unofficial but apparently reliable returns at this time, 189 persons voted for incorporation, as against 108 persons who voted against incorporation.  Under RCW 35A.03.120, a simple majority of all votes cast is all that is required for incorporation of a noncharter code city.
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