B-166604, AUGUST 5, 1969, 49 COMP. GEN. 72

B-166604: Aug 5, 1969

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ASSESSMENT FOR LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS AN INVOICE BEARING INTEREST PRESENTED BY A STATE DRAINAGE DISTRICT TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE AMOUNT ASSESSED AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE REHABILITATION OF A DRAINAGE DITCH THAT IS COMPUTED IN THE SAME MANNER AS THE TAXES LEVIED AGAINST PROPERTY OWNERS OTHER THAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IMPOSES A TAX. 1969: WE HAVE CONSIDERED THE CLAIM OF THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT OF OSAGE COUNTY. THE INVOICE PRESENTED IS FOR $15. THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1914 IN JACKSON COUNTY. A MAIN DRAINAGE DITCH APPROXIMATELY 8 MILES LONG WITH AN ADDITIONAL 2 MILES IN LATERALS WAS CONSTRUCTED. AT THE TIME THE DITCH WAS ORIGINALLY CONSTRUCTED THE 404.1 ACRES OF LAND NOW OCCUPIED BY THE LAKE CITY ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT (LCAAP) WAS FARM LAND.

B-166604, AUGUST 5, 1969, 49 COMP. GEN. 72

TAXES -- STATE -- GOVERNMENT IMMUNITY -- ASSESSMENT FOR LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS AN INVOICE BEARING INTEREST PRESENTED BY A STATE DRAINAGE DISTRICT TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE AMOUNT ASSESSED AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE REHABILITATION OF A DRAINAGE DITCH THAT IS COMPUTED IN THE SAME MANNER AS THE TAXES LEVIED AGAINST PROPERTY OWNERS OTHER THAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IMPOSES A TAX, AND THE UNITED STATES EXEMPTED BY THE CONSTITUTION FROM STATE TAXATION, THE TAX MAY NOT BE COLLECTED BY DESIGNATING THE TAX AN INVOICE OR STATEMENT FOR SERVICES. WHILE THE PAYMENT OF THE TAX MAY NOT BE AUTHORIZED, A CLAIM FOR AN AMOUNT REPRESENTING THE FAIR AND REASONABLE VALUE OF THE SERVICES RECEIVED MAY BE PRESENTED ON A QUANTUM MERUIT BASIS, AND A UTILITY TYPE SERVICE AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO FOR FUTURE SERVICES, THE AGREEMENT TO PROVIDE FOR COMPENSATION TO COVER THE FAIR AND REASONABLE VALUE OF THE SERVICES TO BE FURNISHED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL KELLER, AUGUST 5, 1969:

WE HAVE CONSIDERED THE CLAIM OF THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT OF OSAGE COUNTY, MISSOURI, FOR THE AMOUNT OF $32,051.25, ALLEGED TO BE DUE BECAUSE OF SERVICES FURNISHED THE LAKE CITY ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI, IN CONNECTION WITH A DRAINAGE DITCH FOR THE FIRE PRAIRIE CREEK WATERSHED.

THE INVOICE PRESENTED IS FOR $15,750, REPRESENTING THE AMOUNT ASSESSED AGAINST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR REHABILITATION OF THE DRAINAGE DITCH FOR THE YEAR 1967, PLUS INTEREST IN THE AMOUNT OF $551.25, FROM MARCH 1 TO OCTOBER 1, 1968, AT 6 PERCENT, AND $15,750, REPRESENTING THE AMOUNT ASSESSED AGAINST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR REHABILITATION OF THE DRAINAGE DITCH FOR THE YEAR 1968. THE INVOICE STATES THAT THE "STATEMENT FOR SERVICES FOR YEAR 1967 BEARS INTEREST AT RATE OF 6% PER ANNUM FROM MARCH 1, 1968; STATEMENT FOR SERVICES FOR YEAR 1968 BEARS INTEREST AT RATE OF 6% PER ANNUM FROM JANUARY 1, 1969."

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1914 IN JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI, FOR THE PURPOSE OF RECLAIMING SWAMP LANDS IN THE COUNTY. A MAIN DRAINAGE DITCH APPROXIMATELY 8 MILES LONG WITH AN ADDITIONAL 2 MILES IN LATERALS WAS CONSTRUCTED. THE DISTRICT CONSISTS OF 3,064.53 ACRES.

AT THE TIME THE DITCH WAS ORIGINALLY CONSTRUCTED THE 404.1 ACRES OF LAND NOW OCCUPIED BY THE LAKE CITY ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT (LCAAP) WAS FARM LAND. THIS LAND WAS CONDEMNED AND THE LCAAP WAS BUILT BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN 1941. THE COST OF CONSTRUCTING AND MAINTAINING THE DITCH HAD BEEN ASSESSED AGAINST THE BENEFITED LAND. FROM THE DATE LCAAP WAS ESTABLISHED UNTIL APRIL 1964, NO ACTION WAS TAKEN BY THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT TO RENDER SERVICES ON THAT PORTION OF THE DITCH WITHIN LCAAP OR TO MAKE DEMAND FOR THE THEN ESTABLISHED ASSESSMENT. BECAUSE OF THIS LOSS OF REVENUE AND OTHER ECONOMIC FACTORS, THE DITCH, BEGINNING IN 1950 WAS PERMITTED TO GO UNATTENDED. AS A RESULT THE DITCH CAVED IN AND BECAME FILLED WITH DEBRIS. IT NO LONGER FUNCTIONED EFFECTIVELY AS AN OUTLET FOR THE FIRE PRAIRIE CREEK WATERSHED. SUBSTANTIAL FLOOD LOSSES WERE SUFFERED BY THE LANDOWNERS AND THE LCAAP. IT BECAME APPARENT THAT SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE TO REHABILITATE THE DITCH. IT WAS CONCLUDED THAT THIS COULD BE DONE ONLY IF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WERE TO PAY ITS PROPORTIONATE SHARE COUPLED WITH A GENERAL REAPPRAISAL OF THE LANDS WITHIN THE DISTRICT. ACCORDINGLY, ON APRIL 16, 1964, ATTORNEYS FOR THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT WROTE THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF LCAAP REQUESTING CONSIDERATION OF A PROPOSAL TO FINANCE AND OPEN A WATERWAY OF SUFFICIENT COURSE AND CAPACITY TO CARRY THE WATER.

AFTER SEVERAL CONFERENCES WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ARMY AND AN EXCHANGE OF LEGAL BRIEFS, THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT BOARD WAS INFORMED THROUGH A LETTER DATED AUGUST 25, 1964, TO SENATOR STUART SYMINGTON, FROM THE HEADQUARTERS, UNITED STATES ARMY MATERIEL COMMAND, WASHINGTON, D.C., WITH SUPPORTING CITATIONS--THAT THERE WAS NO LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY ANY INVOLUNTARY EXACTION OR TAX, THAT AS LONG AS THE GOVERNMENT AVAILED ITSELF OF THIS TYPE OF SERVICE AND THE RATE PRESCRIBED WAS A REASONABLE AND PROPER MEASURE OF THE SERVICES, PAYMENT COULD BE MADE ON A QUANTUM MERUIT BASIS. THE LETTER CONCLUDED:

ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR THE ARMY MATERIEL COMMAND TO PAY AN ASSESSMENT TO THE DRAINAGE DISTRICT FOR ANY BENEFITS WHICH MIGHT BE FURNISHED TO THE LAKE CITY ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT BY THE FORT OSAGE DRAINAGE DISTRICT, THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE A REASONABLE BASIS FOR COMPENSATION TO THE DRAINAGE DISTRICT BY WAY OF CONTRACT FOR ANY ACTUAL DRAINAGE SERVICES MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PLANT BY THE OPERATION OF THE DRAINAGE DISTRICT. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THIS APPROACH WOULD CONSTITUTE AN EQUITABLE ADJUSTMENT FOR ALL PARTIES CONCERNED.

IN A LETTER DATED MARCH 24, 1969, TO SENATOR STUART SYMINGTON SIGNED BY WILLIAM L. TURNER OF GAGE, HODGES, KREAMER AND VARNER, KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, IT WAS STATED WITH REFERENCE TO THE LETTER OF AUGUST 25, 1964, SUPRA: THE BOARD INTERPRETED THE LETTER TO MEAN THAT ALTHOUGH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT PAY AN ASSESSMENT IN THE FORM OF A TAX, IT COULD COMPENSATE THE DISTRICT FOR ITS SHARE OF THE EXPENSES PURSUANT TO A CONTRACT FOR SERVICES. SO FAR AS THE DISTRICT WAS CONCERNED, THE PROBLEM INVOLVING THE GOVERNMENT'S CONTRIBUTION, WAS SOLVED SO THE BOARD PROCEEDED WITH THE NEXT STEP, I.E., THE REASSESSMENT OF THE LAND WITHIN THE DISTRICT. THE LETTER OF MARCH 24, 1969, CONTINUES:

THE BOARD FELT THAT A REASSESSMENT WAS NECESSARY FOR TWO REASONS. FIRST, THE LAND HAD NOT BEEN APPRAISED WITH REGARD TO FLOOD BENEFITS, SINCE 1916 AND A GOOD DEAL OF CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS HAD BEEN MADE SINCE THE DISTRICT WAS INCORPORATED. THE BOARD WAS DEDICATED TO SEEING THAT EACH OF THE INDIVIDUALS IN THE DISTRICT PAID HIS FAIR SHARE TOWARDS THE DITCH REHABILITATION. SECONDLY, ALTHOUGH NO ASSESSMENT WOULD BE MADE AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT, THE BOARD FELT THAT THE MOST EQUITABLE METHOD OF DETERMINING A FAIR BASIS FOR A SERVICE CONTRACT WITH THE GOVERNMENT WOULD BE A DETERMINATION OF THE BENEFITS AFFORDED THE GOVERNMENT BY THE DITCH. THE BOARD DID NOT WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY ANY GREATER SHARE, UNDER A SERVICE CONTRACT, THAN THE OTHER LANDOWNERS PAID UNDER AN ASSESSED TAX.

THE BOARD PETITIONED THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR A REAPPRAISAL AND THE COURT APPOINTED THREE COMMISSIONERS TO VIEW THE LAND LYING WITHIN THE DISTRICT AND THE COURT DIRECTED THAT THE COMMISSIONERS REPORT THEIR FINDINGS TO THE COURT AS TO THE BENEFITS INURING TO EACH PARCEL OF LAND AS A RESULT OF HAVING AN OPERATING DRAINAGE DITCH. THIS FINDING WOULD CONSTITUTE A TAX BASE FOR THE DISTRICT. AS AN AUXILIARY TO THE COMMISSIONERS' DUTIES, THE BOARD REQUESTED THE COMMISSIONERS TO VIEW THE LAND WITHIN THE ARMY PLANT AND TO ADVISE THE DISTRICT AS TO THE COMMISSIONERS' OPINION REGARDING THE BENEFITS THAT WOULD BE ENJOYED BY THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE FLOOD CONTROL AFFORDED BY THE DITCH AND TO SUBMIT THEIR FINDINGS IN A WRITTEN REPORT. THE COMMISSIONERS TOURED THE GOVERNMENT INSTALLATION AND COMPLETED THEIR WORK, FOLLOWING WHICH A REPORT WAS SUBMITTED AND APPROVED BY THE COURT. THE REPORT FOUND THAT THE LAND LYING WITHIN THE DISTRICT, EXCLUDING THE LAKE CITY PLANT, WAS BENEFITED BY A TOTAL OF $770,218.50, AND THIS FIGURE WAS CERTIFIED AS A NEW TAX BASE. THE COMMISSIONERS ADVISED THAT THE GOVERNMENT INSTALLATION WAS BENEFITED IN A TOTAL SUM OF $450,000.

THE DISTRICT THEN SECURED A DRAG-LINE AND AN OPERATOR ON A FULL-TIME LEASE BASIS AND A BULLDOZER ON A PART-TIME HIRED BASIS. IT WAS DETERMINED THAT APPROXIMATELY $42,000 WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THE FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS; ACCORDINGLY, A TAX OF 3 1/2 PERCENT WAS LEVIED ON THE INDIVIDUAL LANDOWNERS AND TAX STATEMENTS WERE MAILED OUT THROUGH THE COUNTY COLLECTOR'S OFFICE. THE TAXPAYERS RESPONDED BY PAYING THEIR 1968 ASSESSMENT ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. THERE WAS NOT ONE DELINQUENCY. WE EXPECT A SIMILAR RESPONSE FROM THE $26,923.32 TAX NOW BEING COLLECTED. ACCORDANCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S SUGGESTION, AN EXECUTED CONTRACT WAS MAILED TO THE ARMY THROUGH YOUR OFFICE. THE CONTRACT ($15,750) WAS FOR SERVICES FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR OF 1968. THE BASIS OF THE CONTRACT WAS DETERMINED BY APPLYING 3 1/2 PERCENT TO THE BENEFIT $450,000) DETERMINED BY THE COMMISSIONERS. IN THIS WAY, ALTHOUGH THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT TAXED, THEY WERE TREATED EQUALLY WITH THE LANDOWNERS. YOUR OFFICE FORWARDED THE CONTRACT TO HEADQUARTERS, ARMY MATERIAL COMMAND ON FEBRUARY 5, 1968.

FOLLOWING RECEIPT OF THAT CONTRACT, THE ARMY INITIATED A SERIES OF STUDIES, TELEPHONE CALLS AND CONFERENCES. THE FINAL CONFERENCE WAS HELD IN THE JACKSON COUNTY COURT HOUSE ANNEX ON SEPTEMBER 20, 1968. THIS MEETING WAS ATTENDED BY OFFICIALS FROM THE ARMY MATERIAL HEADQUARTERS, AS WELL AS THE LAKE CITY PLANT AND THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF THE DISTRICT. THE THREE COMMISSIONERS APPEARED BEFORE THE GROUP AND WERE QUESTIONED BY THE ARMY PERSONNEL. THE MEETING CONCLUDED WITH AN AGREEMENT THAT THE METHOD OF DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF THE SERVICE CONTRACT WAS NO LONGER DISPUTED BY THE ARMY. THE UNDERSIGNED WAS REQUESTED BY THE ARMY TO PREPARE A NEW CONTRACT COVERING SERVICES FOR THE YEARS 1967 AND 1968, INCLUDING INTEREST, AND TO SUBMIT THE SAME THROUGH THE ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT FOR PAYMENT.

THE UNDERSIGNED COMMENCED WORK ON A CONTRACT, HOWEVER, A FEW DAYS AFTER THE MEETING A CALL WAS RECEIVED FROM JOSEPH F. CALLAHAN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT OF THE ARMY PLANT, ADVISING THAT IT HAD BEEN DECIDED THAT A CONTRACT WAS NOT REQUIRED BUT, INSTEAD, THAT AN INVOICE FOR SERVICES WOULD SUFFICE AND SHOULD BE FORWARDED TO HIM. THIS INVOICE, IN THE TOTAL SUM OF $32,051.25, WAS SIGNED BY THE BOARD AND FORWARDED TO MR. CALLAHAN ON OCTOBER 2, 1968.

NO FURTHER REPLY WAS RECEIVED FROM THE GOVERNMENT THE REST OF THE YEAR, SO ON JANUARY 8, 1969 WE FORWARDED A TRACER TO MR. CALLAHAN WITH A COPY TO YOU. YOU LOOKED INTO THE MATTER AND ON JANUARY 23, 1969 ADVISED THAT THE MATTER WAS BEING BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR REVIEW. THE NEXT THING WE HEARD WAS IN THE FORM OF A LETTER FROM THE LAKE CITY ARMY PLANT ADVISING THAT THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL HAD SOMEHOW ENTERED THE PICTURE WITH A LEGAL OPINION THAT THE GOVERNMENT COULD NOT BE TAXED. SO, WE ARE RIGHT BACK TO THE POSITION WE WERE IN ON AUGUST 25, 1964.

IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL FAILED COMPLETELY TO REVIEW THE FILE, IF INDEED IT WAS OPEN TO HIM. HAD HE REVIEWED THE FILE, HE WOULD HAVE FOUND THAT:

(A) THE ARMY CONCLUDED IN 1964 THAT IT COULD NOT INVOLUNTARILY PAY AN ASSESSMENT.

(B) THE ARMY SUGGESTED THAT IT PAY FOR ITS BENEFITS THROUGH A SERVICE CONTRACT.

(C) THE ARMY AGREED AS TO THE DISTRICT'S METHOD OF COMPUTING THE AMOUNT OF THE SERVICE CONTRACT.

(D) THE ARMY DECIDED THAT A CONTRACT WAS NOT REQUIRED BUT THAT AN INVOICE WOULD SUFFICE.

(E) THE BOARD WAS NOT ASSESSING THE GOVERNMENT BUT RATHER WAS CHARGING THE GOVERNMENT, AT ITS OWN SUGGESTION AND IN THE FORM SUGGESTED, FOR DRAINAGE SERVICES RENDERED.

SENATOR SYMINGTON, THE REAL TRAGEDY OF THE GOVERNMENT'S MIS CHANNELING OF THIS INVOICE IS THE DANGERS IT PRESENTS TO THE DITCH PROJECT. INDUCED BY THE GOVERNMENT'S SUGGESTION, THE DISTRICT EXPENDED $5,500.00 IN LEGAL AND COMMISSIONERS FEES TO HAVE THE LAND REAPPRAISED. SINCE THE GOVERNMENT HAS PAID NOTHING TOWARD THE WORK, THE DISTRICT HAS BEEN REQUIRED TO ISSUE TAX WARRANTS, BEARING SIX PERCENT INTEREST, FOR THE WORK ON THE DITCH. THE DISTRICT IS CURRENTLY INDEBTED IN THE SUM OF $11,236.00 FOR WORK ALREADY PERFORMED, A DEBT CONTRACTED UPON THE EXPECTATION THAT THE GOVERNMENT MONEY WAS FORTHCOMING. IT IS DIFFICULT TO SEE HOW THIS DEBT CAN BE PAID IF THE GOVERNMENT FAILS TO FULFILL ITS PROMISE BY PAYING FOR SERVICES RENDERED.

IF WE CAN ONCE GET THIS DITCH DUG OUT, THE FUTURE MAINTENANCE COST WILL BE NOMINAL. THE ENTIRE REHABILITATION PROJECT IS IN GREAT DANGER OF BEING SHUT DOWN UNLESS THE GOVERNMENT'S CHECK IS RECEIVED WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY. THE REHABILITATION WAS PLANNED IN TWO STAGES. THE FIRST STAGE CONSISTED OF PROCEEDING DOWN ONE SIDE OF THE DITCH BUT TAKING OUT APPROXIMATELY TWO-THIRDS OF THE DIRT. THE SECOND STAGE WOULD CONSIST OF RETURNING ALONG THE OTHER SIDE TO COMPLETE THE "CLEAN OUT." THE FIRST STAGE IS COMPLETED WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE LAKE CITY PLANT. UNDERSTAND THAT THE EQUIPMENT HAS REACHED THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE PLANT. FROM A POINT OF ECONOMICS, IT WOULD BE A GREAT DEAL CHEAPER TO MOVE ON INTO THE GOVERNMENT PROPERTY NOW. THE WORK IN THE ARSENAL WILL TAKE APPROXIMATELY TWO MONTHS, AT WHICH TIME THE EQUIPMENT WOULD BE TRANSPORTED TO THE OPPOSITE END OF THE DITCH TO COMMENCE THE DIGGING ON THE OTHER SIDE. THE WORK ON THE LAKE CITY PROPERTY CANNOT COMMENCE UNTIL WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE GOVERNMENT.

IF THE GOVERNMENT FAILS TO PAY FOR THE SERVICES AND FORCES A SHUTDOWN OF THE REHABILITATION, A GREAT DEAL OF THE WORK ALREADY PERFORMED WILL COLLAPSE AND THE DITCH WILL RAPIDLY FILL BACK IN. THE $53,892.64 ALREADY PAID, OR NOW BEING PAID BY THE LANDOWNERS, WILL LIKELY TO BE SPENT IN VAIN.

IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, OUR RURAL CLIENTS HAVE BEEN INDUCED BY THE GOVERNMENT'S SUGGESTION TO INCUR A GREAT DEAL OF EXPENSE TO IMPROVE FLOOD PROTECTION FOR THE DRAINAGE DISTRICT, INCLUDING THE LAKE CITY ARSENAL. THE LANDOWNERS HAVE SUPPORTED THIS PROJECT ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. IF THE CASE IS DISTINGUISHED BY ONE SINGLE ELEMENT, IT IS THAT THE DISTRICT DOES NOT ASK ONE SINGLE PENNY FROM THE GOVERNMENT IN THE WAY OF GRATUITY. THE DISTRICT DOES NOT SEEK A GRANT, RELIEF, FEDERAL AID OR ASSISTANCE OF ANY KIND. IN AN AGE WHERE EVERYONE AND NEARLY EVERY COUNTRY SEEKS UNITED STATES ASSISTANCE, I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A NOVEL REQUEST IN THAT RESPECT. THE BOARD DOES INSIST, HOWEVER, THAT THE ARMY FULFILL ITS PROMISE BY PAYING FOR THE SERVICES RECEIVED.

IN THE ABSENCE OF CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORIZATION, THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES IS EXEMPT BY THE CONSTITUTION FROM TAXATION UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF A STATE. VAN BROCKLIN V STATE OF TENNESSEE, 117 U.S. 151, 180; LEE V OSCEOLA IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT, 268 U.S. 643. ASSESSMENTS UPON PROPERTY FOR LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS ARE INVOLUNTARY EXACTIONS, AND IN THAT RESPECT STAND ON THE SAME FOOTING WITH ORDINARY TAXES. HAGAR V RECLAMATION DISTRICT NO. 108, 111 U.S. 701, 707. IN THE CASE OF WISCONSIN RAILROAD CO. V PRICE COUNTY, 133 U.S. 496, 504, THE COURT SAID-- IT IS FAMILIAR LAW THAT A STATE HAS NO POWER TO TAX THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES WITHIN ITS LIMITS. THIS EXEMPTION OF THEIR PROPERTY FROM STATE TAXATION--AND BY STATE TAXATION WE MEAN ANY TAXATION BY AUTHORITY OF THE STATE, WHETHER IT BE STRICTLY FOR STATE PURPOSES OR FOR MERE LOCAL AND SPECIAL OBJECTS--IS FOUNDED UPON THAT PRINCIPLE WHICH INHERES IN EVERY INDEPENDENT GOVERNMENT, THAT IT MUST BE FREE FROM ANY SUCH INTERFERENCE OF ANOTHER GOVERNMENT AS MAY TEND TO DESTROY ITS POWERS OR IMPAIR THEIR EFFICIENCY. IF THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES COULD BE SUBJECTED TO TAXATION BY THE STATE, THE OBJECT AND EXTENT OF THE TAXATION WOULD BE SUBJECT TO THE STATE'S DISCRETION. IT MIGHT EXTEND TO BUILDINGS AND OTHER PROPERTY ESSENTIAL TO THE DISCHARGE OF THE ORDINARY BUSINESS OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, AND IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE TAX THOSE BUILDINGS MIGHT BE TAKEN FROM THE POSSESSION AND USE OF THE UNITED STATES. THE CONSTITUTION VESTS IN CONGRESS THE POWER TO "DISPOSE OF AND MAKE ALL NEEDFUL RULES AND REGULATIONS RESPECTING THE TERRITORY OR OTHER PROPERTY BELONGING TO THE UNITED STATES." AND THIS IMPLIES AN EXCLUSION OF ALL OTHER AUTHORITY OVER THE PROPERTY WHICH COULD INTERFERE WITH THIS RIGHT OR OBSTRUCT ITS EXERCISE. VAN BROCKLIN V STATE OF TENNESSEE, 117 U.S. 151, 168. SEE, ALSO, MULLEN BENEVOLENT CORPORATION V UNITED STATES, 290 U.S. 89; UNITED STATES V ALLEGHENY COUNTY, 322 U.S. 174; AND PEOPLE OF PURETO RICO V UNITED STATES, 134 F. 2D 267.

IN LINE WITH THE DECISIONS OF THE COURTS THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT HAVE ALSO HELD OVER THE YEARS THAT THE UNITED STATES IS EXEMPT BY THE CONSTITUTION FROM TAXATION UNDER AUTHORITY OF A STATE. SEE 2 COMP. DEC. 375 (1896); 4 ID. 116 (1897); 9 ID. 181 (1902); 11 ID. 629 (1905); 15 ID. 231 (1908); 23 ID. 386 (1917); 1 COMP. GEN. 150 (1921); 3 ID. 416 (1924); 15 ID. 380 (1935); 27 ID. 20 (1947); AND 29 ID. 18 (1949).

IT HAS ALSO BEEN HELD THAT A CHARGE MADE BY A STATE OR A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF A STATE FOR A SERVICE RENDERED OR CONVENIENCES PROVIDED IS NOT A TAX. FAIR AND REASONABLE COMPENSATION FOR A SERVICE RENDERED OR A FACILITY USED IS NOT A TAX. SEE PACKET CO. V KEOKUK, 95 U.S. 80; TRANSPORTATION CO. V PARKERSBURG, 107 U.S. 691; HUSE V GLOVER, 119 U.S. 543; SANDS V MANISTEE RIVER IMPROVEMENT CO., 123 U.S. 288; 24 COMP. DEC. 45 (1917); 1 COMP. GEN. 560 (1922); 9 ID. 41 (1929); 18 ID. 562 (1938); 29 ID. 120 (1949); 31 ID. 405 (1952); 34 ID. 398 (1955); AND 42 ID. 246 (1962). CF. 42 ID. 653 (1963).

IN THE PRESENT CASE THERE DOES NOT SEEM TO BE ANY QUESTION AS TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RECEIVING A SERVICE FOR WHICH IT MAY PROPERLY MAKE PAYMENT. HOWEVER THE METHOD BY WHICH THE CHARGE FOR THAT SERVICE HAS BEEN COMPUTED DOES NOT APPEAR TO BEAR ANY PARTICULAR RELATIONSHIP TO THE SERVICE RENDERED.

THE ASSESSMENT AGAINST THE PROPERTY IN THE DISTRICT AS DESCRIBED IN THE LETTER OF MARCH 24, 1969, SUPRA, APPARENTLY WAS MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THOSE SECTIONS OF CHAPTER 243 OF VERNON'S ANNOTED MISSOURI STATUTES WHICH PROVIDE FOR THE ASSESSMENT AND LEVY OF TAXES IN CONNECTION WITH DRAINAGE DISTRICTS. THE AMOUNT BILLED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS COMPUTED IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY AS THE AMOUNTS LEVIED AS TAXES AGAINST PROPERTY OTHER THAN THAT HELD BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. HAVING BEEN COMPUTED IN THE SAME MANNER AS A TAX IT MUST BE REGARDED AS A TAX AND AS SUCH CANNOT BE COLLECTED FROM THE UNITED STATES BY CALLING IT AN INVOICE OR STATEMENT FOR SERVICES. SEE 15 COMP. GEN. 380 (1935).

WHILE PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM AS PRESENTED WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED WE SEE NO OBJECTION TO THE PRESENTATION ON A QUANTUM MERUIT BASIS OF A CLAIM FOR AN AMOUNT REPRESENTING THE FAIR AND REASONABLE VALUE OF THE SERVICES ACTUALLY RECEIVED BY THE UNITED STATES. 18 COMP. GEN. 562 (1938).

FURTHERMORE, AS FAR AS FUTURE SERVICES ARE CONCERNED, WE SEE NO OBJECTION TO ENTERING INTO A UTILITY TYPE SERVICE AGREEMENT, THE COMPENSATION TO COVER THE FAIR AND REASONABLE VALUE OF THE SERVICES TO BE FURNISHED.