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AGO 1958 No. 185 - April 29, 1958
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

MOSQUITO CONTROL DISTRICT ‑- EXCESS TAX LEVY ‑- LEVY WITHIN 12 MONTHS OF ELECTION.

TAXATION ‑- EXCESS TAX LEVY ‑- LEVY WITHIN 12 MONTHS OF ELECTION.MOSQUITO CONTROL DISTRICT ‑- BOARD OF TRUSTEES ‑- METHOD OF APPOINTMENT.

A mosquito control district cannot levy an excess tax levy in October, 1958, when the proposition was approved by the voters in June, 1957.

A mosquito control district may submit a proposition for an excess tax levy, except for payment of general obligation bonds, only at the election held for approval of the formation of the district.

Successors to the initial members of the board of trustees of a mosquito control district are to be appointed in the same manner as the initial members are appointed.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   April 29, 1958

Honorable Arthur L. Hawman
Prosecuting Attorney
Walla Walla County
Walla Walla, Washington                                                                                      Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 185

Dear Sir:

            This letter is written in answer to your request for an opinion of this office on several questions relating to mosquito control districts.  We paraphrase your questions as follows:

            (1) May an excess tax levy approved by the voters of a mosquito control district on June 14, 1957, be levied simultaneously with real property taxes levied in October, 1958?

            (2) In the event question (1) is answered in the negative, does the mosquito  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] control district have authority to resubmit to the voters an excess tax levy proposition under the provisions of Chapter 17.28 RCW?

            (3) When the terms of office of the members first appointed to the board of trustees expire, how are their successors to be appointed or elected?

            We answer questions (1) and (2) in the negative.  The answer to your third question is contained in the analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Question (1)

            Your letter states that the one mill levy approved on June 14, 1957, was not levied in October, 1957, because the mosquito control district was not in existence on March 1, 1957, as required by RCW 84.08.160.  You desire to know whether the levy can be made in October, 1958.

            The 17th Amendment to the state constitution specifically provides that the proposition for an excess tax levy must be submitted to the voters "not more than twelve months prior to the date on which the proposed levy is to be made."  Thus, since the proposition was submitted to the voters in June, 1957, the levy cannot be made in October, 1958, because more than twelve months will have elapsed between the date of the election and the date of the levy.  (AGO 57-58 No. 161 [[to Martin Durkan, State Representative on February 20, 1958]]).

            Question (2)

            Your second question concerns the power of the mosquito control district to submit another proposition for an excess tax levy to the voters of the district.

            A municipal corporation possesses no inherent power to tax and if the power exists, it must be based on a legislative authorization.  If doubt exists as to whether or not the power is granted, the power must be denied.  Pacific Etc. Ass'n v. Pierce County, 27 Wn. (2d) 347, 178 P. (2d) 351.

            RCW 17.28.260 authorizes a mosquito control district to levy an annual excess tax levy to pay the principal and interest on general obligation bonds approved by the voters.  The only other authority to levy taxes is contained in RCW 17.28.100.  It reads in pertinent part as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "At the same election [the election for formation of the district] there shall be submitted to the voters residing within the district, for their approval or rejection, a proposition authorizing the mosquito control district, if formed, to levy at the earliest time permitted by law on all taxable property located within the mosquito control district a general tax, for one year, of one mill in excess of any constitutional or statutory limitation for authorized purposes of the mosquito control district. . . ."

            In our opinion, the authority of a mosquito control district to levy a tax other than for the payment of general obligation bonds is limited by RCW 17.28.100, quotedsupra, to an excess tax levy which must be submitted for approval at the same election at which the proposition for the formation of the district is submitted.  Since no other authority exists by statute, we conclude that a mosquito control district may not submit an excess tax levy to the voters except for payment of general obligation bonds at any time other than at the election at which the proposition for the formation of the district is submitted.

            Question (3)

            Your third question concerns the appointment or election of members of the board of trustees of the mosquito control district at the expiration of the terms of office of the members appointed when the district is first organized.

            RCW 17.28.110 reads in pertinent part as follows:

            "Within thirty days after the filing with the secretary of state of the certified copy of the order of formation, a governing board of trustees for the district shall be appointed.  The district board shall be appointed as follows:"  (Emphasis supplied.)

            The statute then provides a method for the appointment of members depending upon the geographical boundaries of the district.

            RCW 17.28.130 specifies a method for determining the term of office of each member of the board and provides that in the event of the resignation, death or disability of any member, his successor shall be appointed by the governing body which appointed him.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            We find no other provision in the basic act which bears on the question presented.  Your letter indicates that you interpret the underlined portion of RCW 17.28.110 as applying only to the appointment of members to the board of trustees when the district is first organized.  This interpretation is apparently based on the fact that the language underlined is preceded by language which has reference only to the appointment of a board of trustees when the district is first organized.  If this interpretation is accepted, however, the legislature has failed to provide a means of selecting successors to the members initially appointed when their terms of office expire.

            It is a general rule of statutory construction that a statute must be interpreted as a whole and not in parts or sections.  2 Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3rd ed.), 336, (1943).  Since the act makes no other provision for the selection of successors to the initial members, the legislature must have intended the underlined language of RCW 17.28.110 to apply to the appointment of members to the board of trustees initially and as the terms of office of the initial members expire.

            We conclude, therefore, that the method provided in RCW 17.28.110 is controlling in the appointment of successors to members of the board of trustees of a mosquito control district as their terms of office expire.

            We trust this opinion will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ELVIN J. VANDEBERT
Assistant Attorney General

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