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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 213 - Feb 23 1954
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Assessments may not be levied for 1954, payable in 1955, for the support of a fire protection district where the election to ratify the creation of the district will be held March 9, 1954.

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                                                                February 23, 1954

Honorable Maloy Sensney
Prosecuting Attorney
Benton County
Fisk Building
Prosser, Washington                                                                                             Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 213

Dear Sir:

            We acknowledge receipt of your letter of February 16, 1954, presenting the following question:

            May assessments be levied for 1954, payable in 1955, for a fire protection district where the election on creation of the district will be held on March 9, 1954?

            In our opinion, the answer is "No."


            The question arises out of the following circumstances: A petition designating the boundaries of the proposed district was filed with the county commissioners and hearings set prior to March 1, 1954.  At the time of the hearing, the commissioners, by resolution, designated the name and number of the proposed district and fixed its boundaries.  There was sufficient time to have an election upon the question set before March 1, 1954, but there was a school district election set for March 9, 1954.  In order to save costs, the commissioners and the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] auditor fixed that as the date for the election on the creation of the fire protection district.  The question now arises whether the resolution of the commissioners fixing the boundaries of the proposed district and setting the matter for election, may be considered compliance with the provisions of RCW 84.08.160, so as to enable the county assessor to levy taxes for this district in 1954, payable in 1955.

            The organization of a fire protection district is completed by the filing of certified copies of the resolution of the county commissioners so declaring, which resolution cannot be passed until a canvass of the votes and a declaration of the result of the election has been had.  RCW 52.04.110.  This is the resolution referred to in RCW 52.04.150.

            RCW 84.08.160 provides that, 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 districtsexisting on the first day of March of the year in which the levy is made.  It further expressly provides that no such levy shall be made for any district whose boundaries were not duly established on the first day of March of such year.  Although this statute did not originally apply to newly created districts, since the addition of the last mentioned provision by chapter 182, Laws of 1943, (since amended) it does, because of that express prohibition, apply to newly created districts.

            Each of the following steps is mandatory and a condition precedent to the complete organization of the district:

            1.  Election.  (RCW 52.04.080)

            2.  Canvass of election returns.  (RCW 52.04.100)

            3.  Declaration of creation of district by resolution.  (RCW 52.04.110)


            4. Filing of resolution with auditor and assessor.  (RCW 52.04.130)


            5.  Organization becomes complete and conclusive after five days from date of resolution (upon filing).  (RCW 52.04.150)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Until all of the steps are completed, the district is not "existing" within the meaning of RCW 84.08.160.  The resolution of the board of county commissioners fixing the proposed boundaries and setting the matter for election cannot be considered complete organization of the district.  The most fundamental step of all, approval by the voters, had not yet occurred.  Furthermore, under the language of RCW 52.04.150, the time of completion of the organization is specifically fixed, and cannot relate back, especially for tax assessment purposes, in view of RCW 84.08.160.

            We conclude that a fire protection district cannot be considered as organized, on the first day of March for the purpose of assessing tax levies, where the election upon the creation of the district will be held on March 9th.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General