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Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1957 No. 87 - Jun 24 1957
Attorney General John J. O'Connell


Mosquito Control Districts have no authority to impose taxes except those authorized by voters of such districts.  A special one mill levy may be authorized for general expenses during the first year after the district's organization; thereafter levies may be imposed only to retire general obligation bonds, the proceeds of which used for capital purposes only.  Such districts cannot share millage within the 40 mill limit with other taxing districts.

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                                                                   June 24, 1957

Honorable Roger L. Olson
Prosecuting Attorney
Franklin County
Pasco, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 57-58 No. 87

Dear Mr. Olson:

            This is to acknowledge your recent letter in which you asked four questions concerning the recently enacted mosquito control bill, being chapter 153, Laws of 1957.  We have paraphrased your inquiries as follows:

            1.         May a mosquito control district levy a tax each year without the necessity of a vote of the people, or without having to follow the procedure of an election to vote upon issuing bonds?

            2.         Is there any limitation upon the amount of bonds that can be issued?

            3.         Is there any limit on the amount of tax a district may levy?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            4.         Is such a district entitled to share in unclaimed millage within the 40 mill limit on an equal basis with other junior taxing districts, or should there be a priority between such districts?

            Our answers to the above questions appear under corresponding numbers in the analysis below.


            The only authority provided for levy of taxes by mosquito control districts is set out in §§ 10 and 26 of the act.  § 10 authorizes the electorate to vote upon a one mill levy for one year at the organizing election, which levy may exceed constitutional or statutory limitations.  Thereafter the only levies which such districts are empowered to impose are those required to retire outstanding general obligation bonds which can only be issued in conformance with § 26 of the act and amendments 17 and 27 of the Constitution.

            Section 26 provides as follows:

            "A mosquito control district shall have the power to issue general obligation bonds and to pledge the full faith and credit of the district to the payment thereof, for any authorized purpose or purposes of the mosquito control district:  Provided, That a proposition authorizing the issuance of such bonds shall have been submitted to the electors of the mosquito control district at a special or general election and assented to by three‑fifths of the persons voting on said proposition at said election at which such election the total number of persons voting on such bond proposition shall constitute not less than forty percent of the total number of votes cast within the area of said mosquito control district at the last preceding county or state general election.

            ". . .

            "There shall be levied by the officers or governing body now  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] or hereafter charged by law with the duty of levying taxes in the manner provided by lawan annual levy in excess of the forth mill tax limitation sufficient to meet the annual or semiannual payments of the principal and interest on the said bonds maturing as herein provided upon all taxable property within the mosquito control district."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            The purpose of the act is to facilitate district financing, except during the first year after organization, through the issuance and retirement of general obligation bonds.  No other source of revenue is provided.  The bonds authorized by § 26 are to be retired by levies in excess of the 40 mill limit, and while conceivable, it is highly unlikely that such levies, when added to levies of other taxing districts, will not raise the aggregate levy above 40 mills.  Consequently, under amendment 17 (b) these bonds can be issued only for capital purposes and their proceeds may not be utilized for operating expenses of the districts.  SeeState ex rel. Finance Committee v. Yelle, 33 Wn. (2d) 940.

            1. The answer to your first question, therefore, is that only a one mill levy may be imposed for such districts during their first year of existence, and that such a levy must receive the approval of the voters at the organizing election.  Thereafter, the only levies which may be made are ones required to retire bonds authorized at elections as provided in § 26 of the act.

            2. The act places no limit on the amount of bonds which the district may issue.  However, amendment 27 to the state constitution limits voter-approval indebtedness of any municipal corporation (a mosquito control district is such a corporation) to five per cent of the value of the taxable property within the corporation.  This limitation applies to indebtedness "for any purpose."

            3. There may be levied for the district a tax not in excess of one mill in the October following its organization (RCW 84.52.030).  Thereafter the rate of tax will be that which is necessary to service any outstanding bonds.  Indirectly the amount of such levies will be determined by the voters of the district, since it is they who must initially authorize the issuance of the bonds.

            4. Mosquito control districts have no authority to impose general tax levies within the 40 mill limit established by RCW 84.52.050.  Only those levies authorized by § 10 and § 26 of the act may be imposed, and the levies authorized  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] by each of those sections may be, if necessary, outside the 40 mill limit.  There consequently will be no occasion to prorate any mosquito control district's millage under the provisions of RCW 84.52.010.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General