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Intergovernmental Cooperation

This page provides a basic overview of intergovernmental cooperation for local governments in Washington State, including examples of interlocal agreements.


Overview

Washington's Interlocal Cooperation Act, ch. 39.34 RCW, authorizes public agencies to contract with other public agencies via interlocal agreements that enable cooperation among the agencies to perform governmental activities and deliver public services. The Act also allows the creation of nonprofit corporations to carry out these ends.

Intergovernmental cooperation can reduce duplication, offer economies of scale, and generally improve governmental efficiency. Local governments engage in a wide array of cooperative efforts with each other, state agencies, and other governmental entities, and intergovernmental cooperation can take many forms.

All interlocal agreements made pursuant to Ch. 39.34 RCW must either be filed with the county auditor or posted on a public agency's website or other electronically retrievable public source (RCW 39.34.040).

While there is no penalty for not filing or posting agreements, the summary of the decision in State v. Plaggemeier, 93 Wn. App. 472 (1999) indicates that an agreement was invalid as it had not been filed with the auditor and secretary of state. A review of the decision itself, though, shows that the only requirement is to file the agreement with the county auditor. (The decision predated the option to post agreements online, which was passed by the legislature in 2006.) The Plaggemeir decision is important, though, as it invalidates an agreement that was not properly filed.


Joint Municipal Utility Services Authority

Ch. 39.106 RCW, passed by the legislature in 2011, created a new type of intergovernmental municipal corporation to improve the ability of local government utilities to plan, finance, construct, acquire, maintain, operate, and provide facilities and utility services to the public, and to reduce costs and improve the benefits, efficiency, and quality of utility services. Agreements forming an authority must be filed with the Washington state secretary of state which will provide a certificate of filing. An authority shall be deemed to have been formed as of the date of that filing.


Areas of Interlocal Cooperation and Sample Agreements

See the MRSC webpages listed below for sample agreements in specific subject areas.


Cooperation Policies

  • Bainbridge Island Resolution No. 2004-06 - Joint resolution of the city of Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Island School District No. 303, Bainbridge Island Fire District No. 2, and Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District to promote and strengthen coordination in public funding and financing requests between Bainbridge Island taxing districts
  • Kent School District Policy 4320 - Cooperative programs with other districts and public agencies (similar policies are adopted by other school districts)
  • Marysville Resolution No. 2082, passed 09/2002 - Working with city of Arlington for regional solutions
  • Port Townsend and Jefferson County Joint Resolution No. 99-076, 96-99, 09/1999 - Declaring an intent to facilitate and examine joint ventures of common service programs
  • Richland, Kennewick, and Benton County Fire Districts Nos. 1, 2, and 4 Master Interlocal Partnership and Collaboration Agreement - Agreement memorializes the desire to cooperatively form a partnership for the identification, evaluation, and implementation of collaborative efforts to allow the sharing of resources, including, but not limited to, personnel, resources, and equipment, 03/2011
  • Snohomish County Interjurisdictional Cooperation, General Policy Plan (2025 Comprehensive Plan)

Recommended Resources


Last Modified: March 20, 2018