Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 332 - Oct 5 1954
Attorney General Don Eastvold


1. Joint school district is a taxing district.

2. Boundaries of a taxing district must be established by March 1 in a given year before a valid levy may be made for the year.

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                                                                 October 5, 1954

Honorable Howard V. Doherty
Prosecuting Attorney
Clallam County
Aldwell Building
Port Angeles, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 332

Attention:   Mr. Nathan G. Richardson

Dear Sir:

            Your recent letter which has been previously acknowledged states that your county received on July 27, 1954 an order dated July 21, 1954 which consolidated Quillayute Valley School District No. 400 and Bogachiel School District No. 19 and Hoh No. 21 of Jefferson County into one new school district to be known as the Quillayute Valley School District No. 402.

            You request our opinion as to whether or not your county assessor should insert a symbol to identify the new school district on the assessment rolls for 1954 which in turn will be reflected in the 1955 tax.

            It is our conclusion that your assessor should not now insert any such symbol to identify the new school district on the assessment rolls for the year in question.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]


            At the outset it should be said that we assume that the purpose of inserting the symbol on the assessment rolls for 1954 is so that the joint school district created by the order of July 21, 1954 can be identified as a taxing district which is entitled to levy 1955 taxes.  With that assumption in mind we feel that our first line of inquiry should be whether or not the joint school district, created by the order, referred to in your question is in legal contemplation, a taxing district.

            RCW 84.04.120 reads as follows:

            "'Taxing district' means the state and any county, city, town, township, port district,school district, road district, metropolitan park district, water district, or other municipal corporation, authorized by law to impose burdens upon property within the district in proportion to the value thereof, for the purpose of obtaining revenue for public purposes, as distinguished from municipal corporations authorized to impose burdens, or for which burdens may be imposed, for such purposes, upon property in proportion to the benefits accruing thereto."  (Emphasis supplied)

            The above seems too clear to require construction, thus unless there be some difference between school districts as set out in the above statute and joint school districts, the creation of which is allowed by chapter 28.57 RCW, it would follow that joint school districts are also taxing districts within the purview of RCW 84.04.120.  A careful reading of the applicable sections of chapter 28.57 RCW indicates no legislative intent to make such a distinction but rather indicates that joint school districts are to be treated the same as ordinary school districts so far as practicable.

            This then brings us to the main question which is whether or not a levy can be made for a taxing district at this time in 1954 by your assessor.

            The applicable portion of RCW 84.08.160 reads as follows:

            "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  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] official boundaries of such districts existing on the first day of March of the year in which the levy is made, and no such levy shall be made for any taxing district whose boundaries were not duly established on the first day of March of such year.  * * *"  (Emphasis supplied)

            It is, of course, clear that the new school district, known as Quillayute Valley School District No. 402, did not have its official boundaries established until the execution of the order dated July 21, 1954.  Therefore, under the express terms of the last quoted statute, no levy may be made in 1954 because the boundaries of the district were not established on the first day of March, 1954.

            Thus, as above indicated, your assessor should not now insert the symbol of the newly created joint district on the assessment rolls.

            We hope that the above will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General