Oregon Short Line Railway Company v. Yeates

Decision Date20 February 1888
Citation17 P. 457,2 Idaho 397
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

RAILROAD PROPERTY LOCATED OFF RIGHT OF WAY-ASSESSED BY WHOM. Where machine and repair shops are situated upon lands other than the right of way, but are connected with the main line of the railroad by sidetrack, held, that under section 1463 of the Revised Statutes they should be assessed by the local assessor, rather than by the territorial board of equalization.

(Syllabus by the court.)

APPEAL from District Court, Alturas County.


R. Z Johnson, Attorney General, Vic Bierbower and George H Roberts, for Appellant.

Oregon Short Line Railway Company was created a railway corporation in territories of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming by act of Congress August 2, 1882. (U. S. Stats., 81, 82, p. 185.) The sworn statement required of the president, etc., of railroad corporations is not binding upon the state board, and may be disregarded by it in the assessment. (60 Cal. 12.) The underlying principle of all construction is that the intent of the legislature should be sought, in the words employed to express it, and that when found it should be made to govern, not only in all proceedings which are had under it, but in all judicial controversies which bring those proceedings under review. (Cooley on Taxation, 2d ed., p. 264; United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch, 358; Spencer v. State, 5 Ind. 41.)

P. Williams, for respondent.

No brief filed.

HAYS C. J. Buck and Broderick, JJ., concurring.



By the act of Congress of March 3, 1875 (1 Supp. U.S. Rev. Stats., p. 91), the right of way was granted through the public lands of the United States in this territory to any railway company duly organized under the laws of any state or territory, upon certain conditions, to the extent of one hundred feet on each side of the center line of said road, "also grounds adjacent to such right of way for station buildings, depots, machine-shops, sidetracks, turnouts, and water stations--not to exceed in amount twenty acres for each ten miles of road." The respondent company was duly organized, and obtained the right of way, under said act, through the lands of the United States in this territory, and built their road thereon. Section 1463 of the Revised Statutes of this territory is as follows: "The president, secretary, superintendent, or other principal accounting officers of any railroad or telegraph company having property in this territory, whether incorporated under the law of this territory or not, when any portion of the property of said railroad or telegraph company is situated in more than one county, shall list for assessment and taxation, verified by the oath of the person so listing, all the following described property belonging to said corporation within the territory, viz.: Roadbed, superstructure, right of way, and all structures situated thereon, rolling stock, sidetrack, telegraph lines, furniture and fixtures, and personal property belonging to such corporation. Such list shall contain, first, the number of miles of such railroad or telegraph line in the territory, and the number of miles of the same in each organized county therein; and such return must be made to the territorial comptroller on or before the first day of April, annually. If the return aforesaid be not received by said comptroller by the third day of April, he must thereupon proceed to obtain the facts and information aforesaid in any manner that may appear most likely to secure the same correctly, and for that same purpose may address a written communication to the corporation, or to some officer of the corporation who has failed or refused to make the return aforesaid. As soon as practicable after the comptroller has received said return, or procured the information to be set forth in said return, a meeting of the territorial board of equalization, consisting of the governor, territorial treasurer, and comptroller, shall be held at the office of said comptroller; and the said board must then value and assess the property of said corporation for each mile of said road or line, the value of each mile to be determined by dividing the sum of the whole valuation by the number of miles of said road or line. In making up such valuation or assessment, the said board shall examine and consider the return herein required to be made, or the information procured by the comptroller in default of such return, together with such other reliable information relative thereto as they may be able to procure. Said board shall not assess the value of any machine-shop or repair shop or other buildings not situated on said right of way or grounds or other real estate of any corporation or company within this territory; but it shall be the duty of the assessor of the county, city, or district in which said machine or repair shops, or other buildings or grounds, or other real estate is situated, to assess the same, and make return thereof, in the manner provided for the assessment and return of real estate belonging to individuals, on or before the second Monday of May, or as soon thereafter as the said board, or any two thereof, shall have made and determined said valuation and assessment. The territorial comptroller must certify to the clerks of the boards of county commissioners of the several counties in which property of the aforesaid corporations, or any part thereof, may be situated, the assessment per mile so made on the property of any such corporation, specifying the number of miles, and amount, in each of said counties. The county commissioners must thereupon divide and adjust the number of miles, and the amounts, falling within each precinct, city, town, school district, or other division, in their respective counties, and cause such amounts to be entered and placed on the lists of taxable property, or assessment-rolls, returned by the several assessors. The comptroller must certify whether a return was made to him by such corporation, or proper officer thereof, or whether the information required in and by such returns was procured by himself; and in case the return was not made as required by this act, or, being made, was not sworn to, it is the duty of the county commissioners to add any amount not exceeding ten per cent to the valuation thus brought before them."

The officers of the railroad company, in listing its...

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