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2021 Budget Calendar for Counties

This calendar shows the statutory deadlines for counties in Washington State to prepare a budget for the coming year, along with examples of budget planning calendars adopted by counties that go beyond the minimum statutory requirements.

It is part of MRSC's series on Budgeting in Washington State.

We update this page every year prior to budget season. The dates shown currently are for use in calendar year 2020 while preparing a budget for the coming 2021 budget year.


Annual Budget Deadlines

The annual budget deadlines and requirements for counties are found in chapter 36.40 RCW and outlined below.


Biennial Budget Deadlines

Counties that have adopted a biennial (two-year) budget have the same statutory requirements and deadlines (RCW 36.40.250) as those required in the annual adoption process, plus the addition of a budget review and adjustment midway through the biennium. Unlike cities, a county fiscal biennium may begin on January 1 of any calendar year.

For more information on biennial budgets, see our page on Biennial Budgeting.


Budget Calendar

Below is an overview of the budgeting process and statutory deadlines. For a detailed explanation of the budget requirements, as well as some helpful practice tips, see our page on Budget Preparation Procedures for Counties.

Most of the pre-budget items listed here are included as recommendations only and are not required by statute. The rest of the items are statutory deadlines only, and the board of commissioners may set alternative dates for the budget process to conform to the alternative preliminary budget hearing date in December (RCW 36.40.071).

Many counties have adopted alternative dates, and we recommend that each county develop a timeline that best meets its needs, ensures compliance with the statutes, and provides sufficient time to prepare this vital financial plan.

If your county is using the alternate dates, some county officials have noted that there is a conflict between RCW 84.52.070, which requires levies to be certified by November 30, and RCW 36.40.071-.090, which require the board of commissioners to fix the levy amounts after the final budget hearing (beginning on the first Monday in December). However, counties must certify their levies by November 30 or else they risk losing any property tax increase for the upcoming year.

For examples of budget calendars adopted by counties that differ from the statutory requirements, see the Examples section below.


Examples of County Budget Planning Calendars

Please note that the exact dates and statutory deadlines listed may vary slightly from year to year due to normal calendar fluctuations. As noted above, many counties have adopted alternate dates under RCW 36.40.071.


Last Modified: July 28, 2020