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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 201 - Feb 11 1954
Attorney General Don Eastvold


The three mill levy authorized by law for public hospital districts is subject to the forty mill limitation contained in the Seventeenth Amendment of our state constitution.

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                                                                February 11, 1954

Honorable Norman A. Ericson
Prosecuting Attorney
Pend Oreille County
Newport, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 201

Attention:  Jay Roy Jones, Deputy

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of January 13, 1954, previously acknowledged, in which you advised that propositions for the formation of two public hospital districts in your county will probably appear on the ballot at the next general election.  You ask for our opinion on whether or not the three mill levy provided for in RCW 70.44.060 (6) is over and above the forty mill limitation of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Washington Constitution as codified in chapter 84.52 RCW.

            In our opinion your inquiry may be answered in the negative.


            RCW 70.44.060 provides in part as follows:

            "A public hospital district shall have power:

            "* * *

            "(6) To raise revenue by the levy of an annual tax  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] on all taxable property within the district not to exceed three mills or such further amount as has been or shall be authorized by a vote of the people: * * *"

            In the absence of an excess levy, a public hospital district would fall within the class of taxing districts subject to a proportionate reduction of tax rate by the county assessor to bring the consolidated tax levy within the provisions of the constitutional limitation.  RCW 84.52.010.  RCW 84.52.052 (1953 Supp.) prescribes the procedure for authorizing levies in excess of the forty mill limitation.  RCW 84.52.056 sets out the authority for taxing districts, such as public hospital districts, to provide for excess levies for capital purposes.  This section is particularly applicable to new districts which desire to purchase or to construct hospital facilities which they propose to finance by means of general obligation bonds of the district.

            We direct your attention toState ex rel. Finance Committee v. Yelle, 33 Wn. (2d) 940, in which an excess levy approved by the voters of a public hospital district was held to be invalid because the proposition submitted to the voters was too broad to be contained within the statutory formula.

            It is our conclusion that the three mill levy authorized by RCW 70.44.060 (6) for public hospital districts is subject to the limitations contained in the Seventeenth Amendment of our state constitution.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General