BOARD OF SUP'RS OF MARICOPA COUNTY et al.
Snell, Wilmer, Walsh, Melczer & Beauchamp, of Phoenix, for appellants.
F. Britton Burns, of Phoenix, for appellee.
De Concini, Justice. La Prade, C. J., and Udall, Stanford and Phelps, JJ., concur.
De Concini, Justice.
[70 Ariz. 279] On or about September 15, 1949, William E. Stanford, Maricopa County Assessor, appellee herein, presented to the County Board of Supervisors a payroll claim in the sum of $ 1,689.50 and a claim for the payment of four cash registers in the sum of $ 8,680.20. The Board of Supervisors, hereinafter called the supervisors, refused to authorize payment of the above claim upon the ground and for the reason that sufficient funds were not present in the special fund set apart for the operation of the License Plate Department of the County Assessor's office.
Appellee, William E. Stanford, hereinafter called the assessor, petitioned the trial court for a writ of mandamus against the supervisors compelling them to pay the above-mentioned claims. The trial court granted the writ as to the payroll claim but refused to order the payment of the claim for the four cash registers. The supervisors appeal from the order making the writ peremptory.
The facts and issues involved in this appeal are complicated and numerous and the best method of proceeding herein is to set out a brief history of the surrounding facts and circumstances leading up to the problem. The assessor maintains two offices in Phoenix. One office is located in the Maricopa County Court House. The other office, being known as the Automobile License Plate Department, the one with which we are here concerned is located at 1205 West Madison Street in Phoenix.
Each employee of the Auto Department is hired by the assessor with the approval of the County Board of Supervisors and is paid in the same manner as are the other county employees. These employees perform dual duties prescribed by statute. One set of duties is the registration of motor vehicles and the collection of registration fees and license plate fees. The other set of duties is concerned with the assessment and collection of the "lieu" tax imposed by constitutional amendment and by statute. As a practical matter these functions are intermingled and carried out almost simultaneously.
We deem it advisable to set out the particular statutes involved. The portion of the statute governing the collection of registration and license fees is section 66-201(f), A.C.A.1939, passed in 1937. "The assessor of each county is constituted an agent of the division for the performance of acts and duties delegated to him, and the offices maintained by such county assessors are constituted county offices of the division. Fifty cents (50 cents) of each original registration fee shall be remitted to the county treasurer of the county in which such registration fee is collected, and placed [70 Ariz. 280] in a special fund for the use of the assessor in carrying out the duties imposed upon him by this act. Claims against said fund shall be allowed and paid in the same manner as claims against the county are allowed and paid. The board of supervisors may order the transfer of all or any unexpended part of said fund received during a previous fiscal year into the fund for the maintenance and construction of county highways. All moneys received from the taxes herein imposed, except the portion retained for the assessor's special fund, shall be immediately transferred by the collecting officer to the superintendent, and by him to the state treasurer, who shall credit the same to the state highway fund."
In 1940, article 9, section 11 of the Arizona Constitution was amended in part to read as follows: "* * * Beginning January 1, 1941, a license tax is hereby imposed on vehicles registered for operation upon the highways in Arizona, which license tax shall be in lieu of all ad valorem property taxes on any vehicle subject to such license tax. Such license tax shall be collected annually by the registering officer at the time of application for and before registration of the vehicle each year and shall be (a) at a rate equal to the average ad valorem rate for all ...