Hankins v. District Boundary Bd. of Natrona County, No. 4117

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore McINTYRE; McINTYRE
Citation502 P.2d 368
PartiesThomas HANKINS et al., Appellants (Plaintiffs below), v. The DISTRICT BOUNDARY BOARD OF NATRONA COUNTY, Wyoming, et al., Appellees(Defendants below).
Decision Date02 November 1972
Docket NumberNo. 4117

Page 368

502 P.2d 368
Thomas HANKINS et al., Appellants (Plaintiffs below),
The DISTRICT BOUNDARY BOARD OF NATRONA COUNTY, Wyoming, et al., Appellees(Defendants below).
No. 4117.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
Nov. 2, 1972.

Harry E. Leimback and Ronald W. Hofer, of Leimback, Aspinwall & Hofer, Casper, for appellants.

William T. Schwartz and Robert H. McCrary, Casper, for appellees Natrona County School Dist. and Board of Trustees.

Page 369

Clarence A. Brimmer, Atty. Gen., and Jerome F. Statkus, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Cheyenne, for appellee State Committee Established by Organization Law of 1969.

John Burk, County and Pros. Atty., Casper, for appellees The Dist. Boundary Board of Natrona County, Wyoming, and Tom Sutherland, County Assessor of Natrona County, Wyoming.


McINTYRE, Chief Justice.

In Board of Trustees of School District No. 3 v. District Boundary Board, Wyo., 489 P.2d 1393, 1394, we held, regardless of whether legal and proper steps had been followed in all respects, it was apparent the formation of a countywide unified school district in Natrona County was an accomplished fact. At 489 P.2d 1396, we said such district was the only school district in existence in the county; and even though it be de facto, it must continue to operate and control school affairs until it either becomes de jure or until a de jure district supersedes it.

Section 21.1-214, W.S.1957, 1971 Cum.Supp., provides the maximum rate of school district tax that may be levied for all school purposes, exclusive of bond interest and redemption, in any school year. As indicated in subdivision (d) of this section, the maximum in a 'unified school district' is two mills higher for combined elementary and high school purposes than it would be in a district that is not unified.

Trustees of the countywide district in Natrona County (the district we have called a de facto district) caused the additional two mills to be levied in 1972, and certain taxpayers in the county are challenging the legality of the 1972 additional two-mill assessment, which was allowable only to a 'unified school district.' The district court gave summary judgment to the defendants and plaintiffs have appealed.

The suit of plaintiffs started out as one for injunction. The prayer for injunction apparently became moot, however, and plaintiffs sought to make the suit one for recovering taxes which had been paid. Of course, if the assessment was proper and legal, it becomes immaterial whether plaintiffs' suit was for an injunction or to recover taxes paid. Plaintiffs fail in either case, if the assessment is upheld. And we think it must be upheld.

Appellants assert a 'unified school district' can only be one legally organized under the Wyoming School District Organization Law of 1969. Section 21.1-214 does not say so, however, and we fail to find anything in Chapter 14 (the School Finances Chapter) of The Wyoming Education Code of 1969 which so specifies.

Chapter 6 of the code is entitled School District Organization and § 21.1-105 (a part of chapter 6) specifies that this chapter may be cited as Wyoming School District Organization Law of 1969. The definition of a 'unified school...

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