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AGO 1959 No. 14 - February 19, 1959
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- COUNTY ‑- TREASURER ‑- AUTHORITY TO REFUSE TO ACCEPT DELINQUENT IRRIGATION OR DRAINAGE DISTRICT ASSESSMENTS.

The county treasurer cannot refuse to accept the first half of either irrigation or drainage district assessments after such first half assessments are delinquent but before the second half are delinquent and require the assessment to be paid in full.

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                                                                February 19, 1959

Honorable Ray E. Munson
Prosecuting Attorney
Yakima County
102 County Court House
Yakima, Washington                                                                                             Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 14

Attention:  Lon Boyle, Assistant

Dear Sir:

            You have requested our opinion on a problem which we quote as follows:

            "Can the treasurer refuse to accept the first half of either irrigation or drainage assessments after the first half delinquency and before delinquency of the second half, unless the assessment is paid in full?"

            We answer your question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 84.56.020 provides for the collection of property taxes by the treasurer and further provides that:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            ". . . All taxes upon real and personal property shall bedue and payable on or before the thirtieth day of April in each year, after which they shall become delinquent, . . . Provided, That where the total amount of tax on any lot, block or tract of real property payable by one person is ten dollars or more, and if one‑half of such tax is paid on or before the said thirtieth day of April, then the time for payment of the remainder thereof shall be extended and said remainder shall be due and payable on or before the thirty-first day of October following after which date such remaining one‑half shall become delinquent, . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

            You will note from the language quoted above, that the entire amount is due and payable on or before the thirtieth day of April in each year, after which date they shall become delinquent.  However, by paying one‑half the account prior to this time the other half does not become due and payable until the thirty-first day of October following, after which date that one‑half shall become delinquent.  It follows that if one‑half is not paid by April 30th, the entire amount becomes delinquent, since the proviso is not met.

            RCW 87.32.050 provides for the collection, etc., of irrigation district assessments.  While irrigation assessments become due and payable on the fifteenth day of February, the statute provides that one‑half of the assessment shall become delinquent on the first day of June following the filing of the roll and the remaining one‑half shall become delinquent on the first day of December following.  Thus, none of the taxes are statutorily delinquent on the due date provided by the statute for the first installment since the statute specifically provides thatonly one‑half shall become delinquent on the first day of June.  The remaining one‑half becomes delinquent on the first day of December following.  Therefore, it is our opinion that the treasurer should accept the delinquent first half payment of irrigation district assessments without demanding that the second half also be paid at that time.

            Procedures for collection of assessments for diking and drainage districts are set forth in RCW 85.08.480.  The germane part of this section is as follows:

            "The installments of assessments shall be collected in the same manner and shall become delinquent at the same time as general taxes; certificates of delinquency shall be issued, and the lien of the assessment  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] shall be enforced by foreclosure and sale, as in the case of general taxes.

            "The annual assessments shall become due in two equal installments; one‑half being payable on or before May 30th, and the other half on or before November 30th; and interest thereon shall run from such dates."

            However, the session law from which this section was taken reads as follows:

            "The respective installments of assessments for construction or maintenance of improvements made under the provisions of this act, shall be collected in the same manner and shall become delinquent at the same time as general taxes, certificates of delinquency shall be issued, and the lien of the assessment shall be enforced by foreclosure and sale of the property assessed, as in the case of general taxes, all according to the laws in force on January 1, 1923, except as hereinafter specifically provided.

            "The annual assessments or installments of assessments, both for construction and for maintenance and repairs of the diking and/or drainage system shall become due in two equal installments, one‑half being payable on or before May 30th, and the other half on or before November 30th; and delinquency interest thereon shall run from said dates on said respective halves of said assessments. . . ." (chapter 125, § 2, Laws of 1933.)

            Where, as here, there is an inconsistency between the code and the session laws enacted prior to 1949, the session laws control.  (See RCW 1.04.021.)

            You will note that the session law provides in the first paragraph quoted that:

            "The respective installments of assessments . . . shall be collected in the same manner and shall become delinquent at the same time as general taxes . . . all according to the laws in force on January 1, 1923,except as hereinafter specifically provided. . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            The second paragraph proceeds to qualify the first paragraph by providing that:

            "The annual assessmentsor installments of assessments, . . . shall become due and payable in two equal installments, one‑half being payable on or before May 30th, and the other half on or before November 30th; and delinquency interest thereon shall run from said dates on said respective halves of said assessments. . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)

            Therefore, it is our opinion that the annual assessments and the installments of assessments are both due in two equal installments, on May 30th and November 30th, and that the treasurer should accept the first half payment, with proper interest, after May 30th without demanding that the other half be paid, since the other half is not due until November 30th.  It is obvious that this was the intention of the legislature since the last clause of the session law quoted above provides that delinquency interest thereon shall run from said dates on said respective halves of said assessments.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of some help to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

CHARLES I. McCLURE
Assistant Attorney General

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