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AGO 1963 No. 55 - September 10, 1963
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


DISTRICTS ‑- SEWER ‑- PROPERTY SUBJECT TO SPECIAL ASSESSMENT ‑- SUBDIVIDED PRIOR TO PAYMENT ‑- REAPPORTIONMENT ‑- APPROVAL OF COMMISSIONERS ‑- SALE OF INDIVIDUAL LOTS ‑- PAYMENT OF CERTAIN ASSESSMENTS PRIOR TO SALE.

(1) Property subject to a special assessment by a sewer district may be subdivided prior to the payment of the assessment and upon approval of the sewer district commissioners the total special assessment may be reapportioned and prorated to individual lots in the subdivision.

(2) Same:  In cases where a sale of lots must be preceded by filing of the plats, or filing requirements are otherwise imposed, all special assessments on property which will become streets, alleys, and other public places must be paid.

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                                                              September 10, 1963

Honorable R. DeWitt Jones
Prosecuting Attorney
Clark County
301 Court House
Vancouver, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 55

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested an opinion of this office regarding two questions which we paraphrase as follows:

            (1) May property subject to a special assessment by a sewer district be subdivided prior to the payment of the assessment, and the total assessment reapportioned and prorated to the individual lots in the subdivision?

            (2) If the answer to the first question is in the affirmative, may the individual lots in the subdivision be sold prior to the payment of special assessments by a sewer district?

            We answer your first question in the affirmative and your second question in the analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 56.20.090, provides in part as follows:

            "Whenever any land against which there has been  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] levied any special assessment by any sewer district shall have been sold in part or subdivided, the board of sewer commissioners of such district shall have the power to order a segregation of the assessment.

            "Any person desiring to have such a special assessment against a tract of land segregated to apply to smaller parts thereof shall apply to the board of commissioners of the sewer district which levied the assessment.  If the sewer commissioners determine that a segregation should be made, they shall by resolution order the county treasurer to make segregation on the original assessment roll as directed in the resolution.  The segregation shall be made as nearly as possible on the same basis as the original assessment was levied, and the total of the segregated parts of the assessment shall equal the assessment before segregation.  The resolution shall describe the original tract, the amount and date of the original assessment, and shall define the boundaries of the divided parts and the amount of the assessment chargeable to each part.  A certified copy of the resolution shall be delivered to the county treasurer who shall proceed to make the segregation ordered. . . ."

            Under the provisions of this statute, a board of sewer district commissioners is empowered to prorate any outstanding special sewer assessments to the individual lots of an approved subdivision.  The statute does not require that special assessments by paid prior to the therefore conclude that such a segregation may be made prior to the payment of the special assessments.

            Question (2):  Although we have concluded that special assessments may be prorated to the individual lots of a subdivision, there are limitations on the sale of lots of certain subdivisions.

            As a condition precedent to the sale of lots in a subdivision containing five or more lots, the subdivision plat must be filed with the county auditor.  See, RCW 58.16.020.  Similarly, when a town is laid out, the plat must be recorded prior to the sale of any lots.   [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] See, RCW 58.08.010.  Furthermore, RCW 35.63.080 grants to the board of county commissioners the authority to pass ordinances or resolutions for the purpose of regulating and restricting the subdivision of land.  See, also, 57 AGO No. 88 [[AGO 57-58 No. 88 to Prosecuting Attorney, Douglas County on June 26, 1957]].  Our office has also concluded that a city may regulate the subdivision of two or more lots under the provisions of RCW 58.10.040.  See, 54 AGO No. 329 [[AGO 53-55 No. 329 to Bureau of Governmental Research and Service on October 4, 1954]].

            When filing of a subdivision is a condition precedent to the sale of lots, as it is in the cases covered by RCW 58.16.020 and RCW 58.08.010, the person or persons making the filing must comply with RCW 58.08.030, which provides in part as follows:

            ". . . In all cases where any person or persons, . . . shall desire to file a plat, map, subdivision or replat of any property . . . such person or persons, . . . must, at the time of filing the same for record . . . file therewith a certificate from the proper officer or officers who may be in charge of the collection of taxes for which the property affected may be liable at that date, that all taxes which have been levied and become chargeable against such property at such date have been duly paid, satisfied and discharged and must file therewith a certificate from the proper officer or officers, who may be in charge of the collections, that all delinquent assessments for which the property affected may be liable at that date and that all special assessments assessed against said property,which, under the plat filed, become streets, alleys and other public places, have been paid."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            A reading of this statute indicates that when filing a plat, all special assessments against property which under the plat filed become streets, alleys and other public places must be paid.

            We conclude therefore that in cases where a sale of lots must be preceded by filing, or filing requirements are otherwise imposed, all special assessments on property which will become streets, alleys and other public places must be paid.  Such a requirement is consistent with the language of RCW 58.08.030.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

HERBERT GELMAN
Assistant Attorney General

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