Van De Kamp, 011084 CAAGO, AGO 83-614

Docket Nº:AGO 83-614
Case Date:January 10, 1984
JOHN K. VAN DE KAMP Attorney General
ANTHONY S. DA VIGO Deputy Attorney General
AGO 83-614
No. 83-614
California Attorney General Opinion
Office of the Attorney General State of California
January 10, 1984
         THE STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD has requested an opinion on the following question:          Is the State of California exempt from that part of a charge for sewerage service, determined in accordance with a schedule of rates applicable to all users, which is charged by a county for the retirement of revenue bonds issued to finance the expansion of a wastewater treatment plant?          CONCLUSION          The State of California is exempt, in the absence of express legislative authorization, from any charge for the retirement of revenue bonds issued by a county to finance expansion of a wastewater treatment plant.          ANALYSIS          In order to finance its share1 of the costs of upgrading and expanding an existing sewerage treatment facility, a county derived funds in equal parts from the sale of previously authorized general obligation bonds, of revenue bonds, and from existing resources. Thirty-two and one-half percent of the plant capacity is utilized by a state hospital. Seeking participation from the state for the repayment of the revenue bonds, the county proposes to charge all users of the facility, including the state hospital, a one hundred ten dollar per year per equivalent single-family dwelling charge which includes repayment of the revenue bonds.          The inquiry presented is whether the state is exempt from that part of a charge by a local agency for the retirement of a debt incurred for capital construction. As distinguished from a sewerage service charge based solely upon the extent or nature of the use made of the facilities (see 19 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 195, 197 (1952)), the proposed increment is directly attributable to the cost of capital construction.          Article XIII, section 3, of the California Constitution provides that property owned by the state is exempt from property taxation. As distinguished from a tax levied for general governmental or public purposes, however, the constitutional exemption does not apply to special assessment. (Inglewood v. County of Los Angeles (1929) 207 Cal. 697, 702-703.) (A special assessment is generally defined as a charge imposed on property owners within a limited area to help pay the cost of a local improvement, such as a sewerage facility, designed to enhance the value of the property within that area.) (Regents of the University of California v. City of Los Angeles (1979) 100 Cal.App.3d 547, 549.)2 Nevertheless, while publicly owned and used property is not exempt from special assessments under the constitution or statutory law of this state, there is an implied exemption of...

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