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Advisory Boards and Commissions

This page provides a basic overview of local government advisory boards, task forces, commissions, and committees in Washington State, including relevant statutes and local examples.

For a more detailed discussion, refer to MRSC's Local Government Citizen Advisory Boards publication.


Overview

Cities and counties appoint citizen boards, commissions, task forces, and committees to advise their legislative bodies on a wide range of policy issues. Some of these boards are designated by statute for a specific purpose, such as a building code board of appeals. Other boards and commissions may be authorized by statute, but it is left up to the discretion of the local governing body whether to create an advisory board or commission.

The membership of the board may, or may not, be designated by statute. Cities and counties have also created permanent or "standing" advisory committees by ordinance. One example is a design review board. Other boards created may be of a more temporary nature or "ad hoc" to focus on a specific issue facing the city or county.

The use of boards and commissions may provide advantages, such as providing an in-depth examination of issues or a communication channel between elected officials and the community, bringing a broad range of ideas and expertise to public decision-making, assisting in the resolution of conflicts, and providing training for new leaders.

For tips on how to recruit advisory board members, see our blog post Successful Tips for Recruiting Board and Commission Members (2013).


Statutes Related to Boards and Commissions

For City Manager Cities

  • RCW 35.18.060 - The council may provide for the appointment by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the council, of the city planning commission and other advisory citizens' committees, commissions and boards advisory to the city council.
  • RCW 35A.13.080 - The council may provide for the appointment by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the council, of a city planning commission and other advisory citizens' committees, commissions, and boards advisory to the city council.

Cities/Towns

Counties

Fire/EMS Districts


Examples of Policies and Code Provisions

These provisions set forth council-adopted policies regarding advisory boards and commissions, including their purpose, selection and appointment procedures, qualifications, terms, responsibilities and expectations, and the relationship between the advisory bodies and the governing body. Additional noteworthy provisions for each sample policy/code are highlighted below. 


Examples of Procedures and Orientation Manuals


Youth Participation on Advisory Boards

To increase youth participation in local government and get youth perspective on issues, some jurisdictions have established dedicated youth commissions and/or provided seats for youth members on other advisory boards. For examples, see our page Youth Participation in Local Government.


Examples of Board and/or Commission Webpages

Many jurisdictions offer webpages that list all of their boards and commissions and include information about their functions, membership, meeting times, agendas, and meeting packets.  


Recommended Resources


Last Modified: September 09, 2019