In 1957, senators from the Ephrata and Odessa sponsored legislation authorizing the formation of special mosquito control districts. The law that passed, Ch. 153 Laws of 1957, provided for the creation of mosquito control districts in Adams, Benton, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Walla Walla and Yakima counties. A city could be part of a district if it requested to be included within the district by resolution. In 1959, the powers of the district were broadened, and in 1969, to accommodate inclusion of Chelan county, language was added to allow districts to be formed "in any other county" instead of only in the original seven counties.
There are currently fourteen districts, with new ones being considered. Most of the districts are in Eastern Washington, but several have been formed in Western Washington. See List of Mosquito Control Districts. With the threat of West Nile virus, one of the methods to finance the control of mosquitoes is through the formation of mosquito control districts.
- Ch. 17.28 RCW provides for the creation of mosquito control districts and provides the districts with the power to exterminate mosquitoes, a method of financing mosquito control, and the power to abate breeding places for mosquitoes as nuisances as is necessary for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of the residents.
- Ch. 70.22 RCW establishes a statewide program for the control or elimination of mosquitoes as a health hazard. The secretary of health coordinates plans for mosquito control work which may be projected by any county, city or town, municipal corporation, taxing district, state department or agency, federal government agency, or any person, group or organization, and arrange for cooperation between any such districts, departments, agencies, persons, groups or organizations.
- Laws of 2013, Ch. 208 (SSB 5002) provides that Mosquito control district officials may enter lands adjacent to districts to conduct inspections and abate breeding places; effective 07/28/2013.
Formation of Mosquito Control Districts
The formation of a mosquito control district may be initiated either by resolution of the county legislative authority or by petition of the voters. A hearing is held to determine "whether the public necessity or welfare of the proposed territory and of its inhabitants requires the formation of the district," and an election is held to vote on the district's creation and on a tax levy for its first year of operation. Provisions for creating a district are found in RCW 17.28.020-.100.
- Formation of Mosquito Control Districts - Summary of statues prepared by MRSC
- Powers and Governing Structure of Mosquito Control Districts - Summary of statutes relating to powers, method of appointment of board of trustees, qualifications of board of trustees, and term of Office organization of board, and compensation
- Compilation of Formation Documents - Includes petition, hearing notices, resolutions for election, and appointment of officers from formation of Chelan County Mosquito Control District No. 1, Brae Burn, Chelan County Mosquito Control District No. 2, Leavenworth, Chelan County Mosquito, Control District No. 3, Idlewild, and Woodland resolution to annex to Woodland to Cowlitz County Mosquito Control District
Financing Mosquito Control Districts
Sources of funding are a one year property tax levy at the time of formation, assessments, a general purpose excess levy, and an excess levy for bonds. A mosquito control district may, prior to the receipt of taxes raised by levy, borrow money or issue warrants of the district in anticipation of revenue, and such warrants shall be redeemed from the first money available from such taxes (RCW 17.28.251).
Boundaries for Taxation (RCW 17.28.253)
For the purpose of property taxation the boundaries of the mosquito control district must be established by September 1 and the boundary existing on September 1 of each year is the boundary used for taxing property within the district. Although RCW 84.09.030 (formerly RCW 84.08.160) stipulates an earlier date, AGO 59-60 No. 132 concludes that RCW 17.28.253 is controlling where the residents of a mosquito control district vote for the levy of taxes pursuant to RCW 17.28.100, 17.28.252 or 17.28.260. Note that the first property taxes or assessments will not be received until April 30 of the year after the formation.
Assessments to Finance District Operations (RCW 17.28.255 - .257)
- The board of trustees of the mosquito control district annually determines the amount of money necessary to operate the district and classifies property within the district in proportion to the benefits received from the district.
- In accordance with its classification the board apportions and assesses the property within the district, and the assessments are collected with the general taxes of the county or counties. Note the basis for calculating assessments was changed to current use of property rather than market value by Laws of 2005, ch. 181.
- The board of trustees in determining assessments must follow the procedures for county road improvement districts as outlined in RCW 36.88.090 - 36.88.120.
- The provisions of RCW 36.88.120, 36.88.140, 36.88.150, 36.88.170 and 36.88.120 governing the liens, collection, payment of assessments, delinquent assessments, interest and penalties, lien foreclosure and foreclosed property of county road improvement districts shall govern such matters as applied to mosquito control districts.
- AGO 2003 No. 9, Sept 30, 2003 - Extent to which city-owned property is subject to special assessment for operations of mosquito control district.
- One Year General Levy (RCW 17.28.100)
At the same time as the election on the formation of the district, a ballot measure for a one year general levy of up to twenty-five cents per thousand dollars of assessed value is submitted to the voters. This levy, if passed, is outside the constitutional and statutory limits. In order for the measure to pass, it must a) be approved by three-fifths of the voters, with a voter turnout at least equal to 40 percent of those voting in the last general election or b) receive a number of “yes” votes equal to three-fifths times 40 percent of the number of people voting in the last general election. (Washington State Constitution, Art. VII, Sec. 2(a)).
- Excess Levy for General Governmental Purposes (RCW 17.28.252)
A mosquito control district has the power to levy additional taxes in excess of the constitutional and/or statutory limitations for any of the authorized purposes of the district, in an amount not to exceed fifty cents per thousand dollars of assessed value per year. This levy is commonly called an “O&M” levy. In order for the measure to pass, it must:
- be approved by three-fifths of the voters, with a voter turnout at least equal to 40 percent of those voting in the last general election or
- receive a number of “yes” votes equal to three-fifths times 40 percent of the number of people voting in the last general election. (Washington State Constitution, Art. VII, Sec. 2(a)).
The statute does not specify the number of years for which this levy may be made, but Art. VII, Sec. 2(a) specifically provides for a four-year levy for schools and a constitutional amendment was passed in November 2002 to allow a two- year levy by fire districts. Although the language in the section is not as clear as it could be, the remaining districts are limited to one-year levies, presumably including mosquito control districts.
- General Obligation Bonds - Excess Levies (RCW 17.28.260)
- A mosquito control district may issue voted general obligation bonds for authorized capital purposes, and provide for the retirement of the bonds by excess property tax levies.
- A proposition authorizing both the issuance of such bonds and the imposition of excess levies must be approved by the voters of the district, at an election held pursuant to RCW 39.36.050, by three-fifths of the voters with a voter turn out of 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. (Note that district officials most probably do not have the choice of using the voter turnout in a county election to validate the vote. Art. VII, Sec. 2(b) of the Washington State Constitution dictates the voting requirements for voted general obligation bonds. It states that the voter turnout must be forty percent of the number voting in the last preceding general election, where it is understood that it is a state-wide general election.)
- Mosquito control districts may become indebted for capital purposes up to an amount equal to one and one-fourth percent of the value of the taxable property in the district, as the term "value of the taxable property" is defined in RCW 39.36.015.
- Such bonds shall never be issued to run for a longer period than ten years from the date of issue and shall be issued and sold in accordance with Ch. 39.46 RCW.
Financial Administration (RCW 17.28.258 - .310)
- Duties of County Treasurer (RCW 17.28.258) - See also Ch. 84.56 RCW Collection of Taxes.
- The county treasurer collects all mosquito control district assessments. The collection and disposition of revenue from such assessments and the depository thereof shall be the same as for tax revenues of such districts as provided in RCW 17.28.270.
- All taxes levied under this chapter shall be computed and entered on the county assessment roll and collected at the same time and in the same manner as other county taxes.
- When collected, the taxes shall be paid into the county treasury for the use of the district. If the district is in more than one county the treasury of the county in which the district is organized is the depository of all funds of the district.
- The treasurers of the other counties shall, at any time, no more than twice each year, upon the order of the district board settle with the district board and pay over to the treasurer of the county where the district is organized all money in their possession belonging to the district. The last named treasurer shall give a receipt for the money and place it to the credit of the district (RCW 17.28.270).
- Fees Charged by County Treasurer (RCW 36.29.180)
- Mosquito control district assessments authorized under RCW 17.28.255 are "special assessments, fees, rates, or charges" and a county treasurer may charge the district a service fee not to exceed four dollars per parcel each year for collecting such assessments. See AGO 1994 No. 24.
- The county assessor of each county lying wholly or partially within the district is to certify annually to the board the aggregate assessed valuation of all taxable property in his county situated in any mosquito control district as it appears from the last assessment roll of his or her county (RCW 17.28.310).
- Funds of the district shall only be withdrawn from the county treasury depository upon the warrant of the district board signed by its president or acting president, and countersigned by its secretary (RCW 17.28.280).
Annexation, Consolidation and Dissolution
Annexation (RCW 17.28.320 - 17.28.350)
- Any territory contiguous to a district may be annexed to the district.
- Property within a city can be annexed if city agrees by resolution and the resolution is attached to the annexation petition.
- The annexation process is begun by the submission of a petition to the board of trustees. The petition must contain a description of the territory sought to be annexed, be signed by registered voters of the territory equal in number to at least ten percent of the number of votes cast in the territory for governor at the last election prior to the time the petition is presented. Thereafter the board sets the petition for hearing.
- The annexation is subject to approval of the electors of the territory proposed to be annexed.
- The expenses of the annexation election are borne by the district regardless of the election outcome.
- Certified copies of the order of annexation must be filed with secretary of state, county clerk, and county auditor of each county in which the district is situated.
- After annexation the district board consists of the number of members appointed in the manner prescribed by statute for the board as though the district had been formed originally embracing the annexed territory. However the original board members continue to serve the remainder of the term for which they are appointed.
Consolidation (RCW 17.28.360 - .410)
- A consolidation of mosquito districts may be achieved through a special election.
- The process is begun by adoption of a resolution by a two-thirds vote of the district board, and concurred in by the adoption of a concurrent resolution by a two thirds vote of other district boards seeking consolidation.
- Consolidation requires a two-thirds vote of each mosquito control district proposed to be consolidated.
- After the consolidation, the board of the consolidated district shall consist of the number and shall be appointed in the manner prescribed by statute.
- The terms of the members of the district boards of the several districts consolidated who are in office at the time of consolidation terminate at the time the consolidation becomes effective.
- Election - The district may at any time be dissolved upon the vote of two-thirds of the qualified electors in the district at a special election called by the district board upon the question. See RCW 17.28.420-.450
- Inactive Districts - Dissolution of inactive districts occurs through county legislative action. See Ch. 36.96 RCW.