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AGO 1950 No. 372 - October 20, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CITIES AND TOWNS ‑- CITY PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS FUND ‑- AVAILABLE ONLY TO PAY L.I.D. ASSESSMENT AGAINST CITY-OWNED PROPERTY ‑- FEDERAL PROPERTY

It is not proper for the City of Seattle to use money belonging to the City Property Assessments Redemption Fund for paying local improvements assessments chargeable against property owned by the federal government or property owned by the Housing Authority.

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                                                                October 20, 1950

Mr. Lawrence Hubble, Chief Examiner
Division of Municipal Corporations
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 372

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of May 2, 1950, you requested our opinion on whether it was proper for the City of Seattle to use the funds of the City Property Assessments Redemption Fund to pay for local improvements on property owned by the federal government and property owned by the Housing Authority.

            Our conclusion is as follows:

            It is not proper for the City of Seattle to use money belonging to the City Property Assessments Redemption Fund for paying local improvements assessments chargeable against property owned by the federal government or property owned by the Housing Authority.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, p. 475, Laws of 1929 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 9344), provides:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "Every city of the first, second and third class and town shall include in its annual tax levy an amount sufficient to pay all unpaid assessments, with all interest, penalties and charges thereon levied against all lands of such city or town."

            Section 2, p. 476, Laws of 1929 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 9345), provides, in part:

            "* * * The proceeds of such portion of the tax levy shall be placed by such city or town treasurer in a separate fund to be known as the 'City (or town) Property Assessments Redemption Fund' and by him inviolably applied in payment of any unpaid assessment liens on any lands belonging to such city or town.  * * *"

            Both of the above sections refer only to "lands belonging to such city or town."  Consequently, it is our opinion that the money collected and placed in the City Property Assessments Redemption Fund is to be used only for paying assessments against lands belonging to the city.  This, we think, is the clear meaning of section 9345, supra.  The purpose in creating this fund was to provide money to pay the cities' assessment obligations.  If the fund is used to pay assessments against non-city [[*sic (noncity)]]property its purpose is destroyed.  Thus, it is our conclusion that the city may only use the money credited to this fund for paying assessments charged against city-owned property.

            In respect to property owned by the Housing Authority, the Authority may agree to pay something toward improvements benefitting their property.  Although section 22, chapter 23, Laws of 1939 (Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp. 6889-22) exempts all Housing Authority property from assessments, the Act also provides:

            "* * * That in lieu of such taxes an authority may agree to make payments to the city or the county or any such political subdivision for improvements,  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] services and facilities furnished by such city, county or political subdivision for the benefit of a housing project, but in no event shall such payments exceed the amount last levied as the annual tax of such city, county or political subdivision upon the property included in said project prior to the time of its acquisition by the authority."

            Thus, the Housing Authority may pay if they want to, however, there is no way whereby the Housing Authority can be compelled to pay anything toward the cost of the improvements.

            As to property owned by the federal government, the city or political subdivision has no legal means to secure any payments for improvements benefitting the property.  Property of the federal government cannot be assessed by a municipal corporation for local improvements.  63 C.J.S., section 1332-b.  The end result is that the cost of local improvements which also benefit federal property is borne solely by the other landowners benefitted because, as pointed out heretofore, the city may not assume this added burden of the other landowners by using funds from the City Property Redemption Fund.

            As a collateral question, you also sought our opinion as to how federal government property should be handled in forming a local improvement district.  We feel that this is a matter primarily of local policy which should not be determined by this office.  Matters of this nature should be worked out by the municipal corporations themselves.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General

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