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Attorney General Issues Opinion on Road Tax Diversion

The Washington State Attorney General issued AGO 2017 No. 1 outlining his opinion that county road tax diversion for traffic law enforcement must be narrowly defined if a county wants to remain eligible for Rural Arterial Program (RAP) grant funding.
The opinion specifically determined that civil or criminal traffic prosecutions, court costs of adjudication, indigent defense, incarceration, and/or coroner activities are not considered traffic law enforcement, as allowed by Article II, Section 40 of the Washington State Constitution.
Each year counties certify whether county road funds diverted for other purposes meet the eligibility requirements of RCW 36.79.140.  Some counties have historically included the now prohibited costs in their traffic law enforcement certification.
The County Road Administration Board adopted WAC 136-25 in 2016 outlining eligible traffic law enforcement activities on county roads.  The recently published AGO reinforces CRAB’s 2016 rule.
If a county is unclear whether their previous expenditures for traffic law enforcement are in compliance with the WAC, they should contact CRAB for a determination on whether they are eligible for future RAP grant funding.