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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1964 No. 101 - May 4 1964
Attorney General John J. O'Connell


The board of directors of an irrigation district charging tolls for services must fix the date from which tolls will be delinquent and interest should be charged on the tolls declared by the board to be delinquent.

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                                                                    May 4, 1964

Honorable Herbert H. Davis
Prosecuting Attorney
Benton County
Fisk Building
Prosser, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 101

Dear Sir:

            By a previously acknowledged letter you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Where an irrigation district charges tolls for services, when do such tolls become delinquent for purposes of imposing interest thereon?

            We answer your question as set forth in the following analysis.


            For purposes of defraying the expense of organization and operation, an irrigation district is authorized by RCW 87.03.445 to fix rates or tolls and charges and/or levy assessments.  The statute provides that if the toll and charge method is adopted in whole or in part the district shall prepare a schedule showing the amount of the toll, the persons to be charged and a description of the land against which the tolls are to be levied.  The statute continues in material part:

            ". . . Such schedule of tolls for a given year shall be filed with the proper county treasurer within the same time as that provided by law for the filing of the annual assessment roll, and the county treasurer shall collect and receipt for the payment of said tolls and credit them to the proper funds of the district.  The board  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] may designate the time and manner of making such collections and shall require the same to be paid in advance of delivery of water and other service and may accept short term interest bearing notes with or without collateral in their discretion for any portion of such charges. . . .

            "All tolls and charges levied shall also at once become and constitute an assessment upon and against the lands for which they are levied, with the same force and effect, and the same manner of enforcement, and with the same rate of interest from date of delinquency, in case of nonpayment, as other district assessments."

            On the other hand, by RCW 87.03.270, assessments become due and payable on the 15th day of February of each year and become delinquent as follows:

            "One‑half of all assessments on said roll shall become delinquent on the first day of June following the filing of the roll unless said one‑half is paid on or before the thirty-first day of May of said year, and the remaining one‑half shall become delinquent on the first day of December following, unless said one‑half is paid on or before the thirtieth day of November.  All delinquent assessments shall bear interest at the rate of ten percent per annum from the date of delinquency until paid."

            While under the provisions of the last paragraph of RCW 87.03.445,supra, tolls are considered the same as assessments in so far as their effect, enforcement procedures and rates of interest on delinquency are concerned, said paragraph does not purport to make the delinquency date for tolls coincide with that for assessments, nor, in our opinion, is that the legislative intent.

            Assessments, under RCW 87.03.270, supra, are due on or after February 15 of each year, with one‑half payable before the first of June and the other one‑half before the first of December without becoming delinquent.

            On the other hand, while RCW 87.03.445, requires the county treasurer to collect tolls and thedistrict board is given the authority  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] to "designate the time and manner of making such collections," the only limitation on the board's authority is that such tolls must "be paid in advance of delivery of water and other services."  This means the time in which tolls may be paid will not necessarily coincide with payments of assessments.  We can foresee situations where the action of the board in fixing the time for paying tolls could make it impossible to apply the delinquency dates for assessments set forth in RCW 87.03.270, supra.

            RCW 87.03.445,supra, requires interest on delinquent tolls, and as no delinquency date is provided, it follows that the board must fix such a date.  It is our opinion and we therefore conclude that interest on delinquent tolls should be charged from the date the tolls are declared by the district board to be delinquent.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General