Macon County v. United States/Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

134 U.S. 332

Macon County  v.  United States

According to the law of Missouri under which the bonds of Macon county were issued to the Missouri & Mississippi Railroad Company, in payment of its subscription of stock to that company, as stated above, the balance due upon the judgment of the relator, after application of the moneys raised by the special tax of one-twentieth of 1 per cent. upon the assessed value of taxable property, stood on the same footing as any other liability of the county to be paid out of its general funds. To raise revenue to meet its expenses, which included that liability, the county was authorized to levy a tax of 50 cents on every $100 of valuation of taxable property in the county. U.S. v. County of Clark, 96 U.S. 211; County Court v. U.S., 109 U.S. 229, 3 Sup. Ct. Rep. 131. In this case it appears that for the year 1885 the county had levied only 30 cents on every $100 of property; but it set up in its answer that t had levied 50 cents, treating the 20 cents which had been levied by the boards of townships for township and bridge purposes as part of the 50 cents. The township is a separate organization from that of the county, with authority to purchase and hold real estate and make contracts and control its corporate property, and its taxes levied for those purposes over which it has control can in no just sense be termed taxes for county purposes. There can be therefore no valid objection to the county's levy of an additional 20 cents on the $100 to make up the 50 cents which it is authorized to levy to meet its expenses and liabilites. The apportioning of the funds collected to distinct and separate purposes does not affect the question presented. The proceeding is to obtain a further levy and the appropriation of its proceeds upon the judgment of the relator among other debts of the county. That the surplus remaining in the treasury over the payment of the warrant for the school fund, which is of prior registration, should be appropriated, pro rata, upon all the warrants of even date and registration, is a simple measure of justice. All the warrants were issued and registered on the same day, and if they could only be paid in the order of their registration, and a payment could not be made on anyone without its surrender, as contended, the treasurer would be obliged to retain the funds in his possession until he had a sufficient amount to pay them all before applying any portion thereof. As the circuit court said, this is an absurd position, and it held that whenever any reasonable amount has accumulated it should be distributed, and added that the order of the court would be a full protection to the officer. In that respect, as well as in other particulars, concurring with the court, we affirm its judgment.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).