This page provides information about biennial budgeting for cities, towns, and counties in Washington State, including relevant statutes and a list of jurisdictions that use biennial budgets.
Most cities, towns, and counties in Washington operate under an annual budget, but some budget on a biennial (two-year) basis.
Biennial Budgeting for Cities and Towns
Any cities and towns may begin budgeting on a biennial basis if desired (see Ch. 35A.34 RCW for code cities and Ch. 35.34 RCW for all other cities and towns).
By statute, the biennial fiscal year for cities and towns must start on January 1 of an odd-numbered year and end on December 31 of the following even-numbered year. To begin budgeting on a biennial basis, a city or town must pass an ordinance to that effect no later than June 30 of the preceding even-numbered year, six months before the beginning of the fiscal biennium.
Cities that budget on a biennial basis must adopt a budget no later than December 31 of the preceding even-numbered year. For detailed deadlines, procedures, and practice tips, see our pages on Budget Preparation Procedures for Cities and Towns and Budget Calendar for Cities and Towns.
In addition, the city or town must review and modify the budget sometime between September 1 and December 31 of the first (odd-numbered) year of the biennium (RCW 35.34.130 and RCW 35A.34.130).
Biennial Budgeting for Counties
Any county may adopt a biennial budget (RCW 36.40.250). Unlike cities, counties may start the biennium in any fiscal year.
The county statute also gives no indication of when the ordinance or resolution providing for a biennial budget must be passed. Practically speaking, it probably needs to be done by the end of June so that departments can prepare the estimates that are due to the auditor in August.
For detailed budget preparation deadlines, procedures, and practice tips, see our pages on Budget Preparation Procedures for Counties and Budget Calendar for Counties. In addition, each county adopting a biennial budget must review and modify the budget halfway through the biennium.
List of Jurisdictions with Biennial Budgets for 2017-2018
Below is a list of cities and counties that MRSC is aware of that currently use a biennial budget. To view a specific budget document, refer to our City and Town Profiles and County Profiles.
- Bainbridge Island
- Battle Ground
- Bonney Lake
- Federal Way
- Lake Forest Park
- Mercer Island
- Mill Creek
- Mountlake Terrace
- Normandy Park
- Oak Harbor
- University Place
- Walla Walla
- West Richland
- Benton County
- Clark County
- Cowlitz County
- King County
- Whatcom County