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Budgeting in Washington State

This page provides links to all of MRSC's resources related to local government budgeting in Washington State.

2021 Budget Suggestions is now published!

General Budgeting Information

  • Introduction to Budgeting – Overview of the budget process, including:
    • Tools for developing your budget
    • What funds must have budgets
    • Budget types and methods
    • Fund level vs. department level budgets
    • Fund balance
    • Balanced budgets
    • Budget reserves
    • Helpful budgeting resources
  • Glossary of Budget Terms – Definitions of key budget-related terms
  • Budget Preparation Procedures for Cities and Towns – Step-by-step overview of the required city budget procedures, along with tips and recommendations.
  • Budget Preparation Procedures for Counties – Step-by-step overview of the required county budget procedures, along with tips and recommendations.
  • Biennial Budgets – Information about the optional biennial (two-year) budget process used by some cities, counties, and special purpose districts, along with sample ordinances and planning calendars
  • Budget Policies – Sample budget policies from cities and counties
  • Communicating Your Budget to the Public – Examples of effective approaches to communicate budget information to your citizens
  • Performance Measurement – Resources for jurisdictions that are developing and implementing performance measurement systems, including budget monitoring and reporting.
  • Recent blog posts about budgeting – Articles written by MRSC staff and contributors about specific aspects of budgeting, such as budget hearings, budget amendments, and legislative changes that might impact your budget. Articles are listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent first.

Financial Policies (Pre-Budget)

MRSC recommends reviewing and updating your financial policies as part of the pre-budget process, to make sure your policies are still relevant and meet your jurisdictions' objectives.

  • Financial Policies Tool Kit – Detailed guidance and key questions to consider for a number of budget-related topics, including fund balance/reserves, cost allocation, debt management, and more, as well as links to best practices and sample documents from other jurisdictions.

Revenue Sources

MRSC's Revenue Guides provide an extensive overview of local government revenue sources, for those jurisdictions seeking additional revenues or a better understanding of their existing revenue sources.

In addition, MRSC tracks local government ballot measures so you can see what other jurisdictions have attempted similar measures and how the ballot measures have fared.

Developing Your 2021 Budget

  • 2021 Budget Suggestions – Popular publication containing the latest information about things that might impact your city or county budget, such as state shared revenue distributions, new legislation, and economic trends. New version published every year at the end of July.
  • 2021 Budget Calendar for Cities and Towns – Statutory deadlines for cities/towns to develop and adopt their upcoming budgets. Includes downloadable Outlook calendar. Also includes sample budget planning calendars adopted by cities/towns.
  • 2021 Budget Calendar for Counties – Statutory deadlines for counties to develop and adopt their upcoming budgets; also includes sample budget planning calendars adopted by counties.
  • 2021 Shared Revenue Estimator – Tool to help cities and counties estimate their anticipated per capita state shared revenues, including liquor, criminal justice, gas tax, multimodal, and marijuana distributions. Updated every year when Budget Suggestions is published.
  • Tax and Population Data – Population, property tax, and sales tax data for each city and county dating back to 2010, as well as current breakdown of local sales tax rates and components for each city and county
  • Implicit Price Deflator – Information on the IPD and how it affects property tax rates for the coming year, as well as sample resolutions/ordinances of substantial need. Only affects local governments with a population of 10,000 or more.
  • Consumer Price Index – Information on the CPI, which is often used as an inflation index for labor contracts and certain other budgetary items. Includes current and recent CPI-U and CPI-W data for U.S. and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region.


Sample Budgets

  • Sample Document Library: Budgets – Browse through local government budgets that have been submitted to MRSC
  • City and Town Profiles – Find links to the current budget for a specific city or town, if available. (Click on the city's name to expand it, then look for the "Budget" link.)
  • County Profiles – Find links to the current budget for a specific county, if available.

Last Modified: July 28, 2020