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State v. Churchill County

December 31, 1919

THE STATE OF NEVADA, EX REL. W. D. MOODY, PETITIONER, V. W. H. WILLIAMS, J. D. AUSTIN, AND L. L. ALLEN, AS MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF CHURCHILL COUNTY, NEVADA, RESPONDENTS.


G. J. Kenny, District Attorney, for Petitioner.

Leonard B. Fowler, Attorney-General; Robert Richards, Deputy Attorney-General, and A. L. Haight, for Respondents.

By the Court, Sanders, J.:

The board of county commissioners of Churchill County, at its meeting in May, 1919, unanimously adopted this resolution:

“Resolved, That it is the intention of this board, under the authority of an Act of the Legislature of the State of Nevada, approved March 29, 1919, being chapter 204 of the Laws of Nevada, Twenty-Ninth Session, to proceed with the issuance of the bonds of this county, to the amount of $240,000, and to apply the moneys derived from the sale thereof towards the purposes specified in said Act.”

1. An impression widely prevails that the legislature exceeded its authority in authorizing the board of county commissioners to issue the bonds provided for in the act (Stats. 1919, c. 204), and that the bonds would, if issued, be destitute of legal obligation. An early decision of the questions involved is important, because, if the act be legitimate legislation, the county may avail itself of its benefits and negotiate more easily and at higher figures the securities, and that, on the other hand, should the legislation be not legitimate, no steps may be taken under it, the evil of repudiation avoided,

[43 Nev. 290, Page 292]

as well as long-drawn-out and expensive litigation. We deem these considerations sufficient to justify us in considering the question on its merits, without regard to the method adopted (prohibition) to have the law reviewed. State v. Osawkee Township, 14 Kan. 418, 19 Am. Rep. 99.

The board of county commissioners of Churchill County is authorized, under the provisions of the act, to prepare and issue bonds of said county, bearing interest at the rate of 3 per cent per annum from date, in the sum of $240,000. For a clear understanding of the nature of the bonds and the legal questions involved, it is necessary to give a summary of the provisions of the act. The sections that embody its principal features, in so far as they relate to the bonds, are sections 6 and 7:

“Sec. 6. The board of county commissioners of said county is hereby authorized to use the moneys derived from the sale of said bonds, or such portion thereof as they may deem advisable, in assisting bona-fide owners and entrymen of agricultural lands in said county in the leveling of such lands and in placing the same under cultivation, under such regulations as said board may adopt in conformity with the spirit of this act. Such assistance shall be in the nature of loans made to such owners and entrymen from said ‘Reclamation Fund,' and the said board is hereby authorized and required in every case where such loan is made to secure the repayment thereof by a first lien for the amount of such loan upon the land embraced within the farm unit or legal subdivision in which the land so to be leveled and placed under cultivation, as specified in the application for such loan, is situated. * * *

“Sec. 7. No loan shall be made from said ‘Reclamation Fund' e7.ept for the purpose of placing under cultivation lands not leveled at the time of making application for such loan, nor shall any loan be made in an amount exceeding the cost of leveling such lands, and the amount which may be loaned for leveling any one acre shall not exceed fifty dollars; provided, that upon the unanimous vote of the members of the board of

[43 Nev. 290, Page 293]

county commissioners, in the case of lands unusually difficult to level and which, when leveled and placed under cultivation, will in the judgment of the board be of exceptional value, such loans may be made in an amount not to exceed seventy-five dollars per acre. No money shall be advanced upon any application for a loan hereunder until the land specified therein shall have been leveled and seeded nor until it shall have been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the board that it can be properly irrigated and that all work in connection with the land has been performed in conformity with the general scheme of reclamation, irrigation and drainage obtaining in the district in which such land is situated.”

It is provided by section 8 that the money so loaned must be paid in annual installments, commencing at a time to be fixed by the board, but not later than July 1, 1923, and the whole amount thereof shall mature and be paid as the board may direct, but in any event prior to July 1, 1938.

The board is authorized by section 11 to charge and collect on said loans a rate of interest not in excess of 5 per cent per annum. The applicant for a loan is required to pay an application fee of not to exceed 2 per cent ...


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