Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 328 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


The electors in a proposed hospital district may not vote on a proposition authorizing a bonded indebtedness or a levy in excess of three mill at the election at which the district is voted into existence for the first time.

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

                                                              September 23, 1954

John A. Kahl, M.D.
Acting Director
Department of Health
Smith Tower
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 328

Dear Dr. Kahl:

            You have requested our opinion upon the following question:

            "May the electors within a proposed hospital district vote on a proposition calling for (1) bonded indebtedness or (2) a levy in excess of three mills at the same election in which the Public Hospital District is voted into existence or incorporated for the first time."

            Our answer to the above question is in the negative.


            Sections 12 and 13, Chapter 264, Laws of 1945 (Cf. RCW 70.44.110 et seq.) provide that where a public hospital commission deems it advisable to purchase, condemn, acquire, or construct a public hospital or make additions or betterments thereto or extensions thereof, the commission shall provide therefor by resolution setting forth the proposed plan.  In the event the plan necessitates indebtedness which would exceed one and one‑half per cent (1 1/2%) of the taxable property of the district, the proposed plan and the proposition for incurring indebtedness must be submitted to the electors of the district.  Bonds may be issued if the electors adopt said plan and proposition.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Section 6 (f), Chapter 264, Laws of 1945 [Cf. RCW 70.44.060 (6)], as amended by Section 18, Chapter 197, Laws of 1949, provides that a public hospital district may levy an annual tax of three mills on all property within the district.  Authority is also granted to the commissioners to call a special election for the purpose of submitting to the electors the proposition of a levy in excess of three mills.

            It is clear, under Sections 12 and 13, supra, that a proposition for incurring indebtedness may be submitted to the electors of the district only after the district has been formed and the commission has been elected, since the commission must devise the plan and determine the need for and extent of any proposed indebtedness of the district.

            With reference to Section 6 (f), supra, there is no procedure for voting an excess levy except by special election.  A special election may only be called by the district commissioners; no other person or body has such authority.  Therefore, said special election may not be called until after the district commissioners have been duly elected.

            It is our opinion, therefore, that a proposed hospital district may not vote to incur bonded indebtedness or for an excess levy at the same election at which the district is voted into existence.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General