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Interlocal Cooperation

This page provides a basic overview of interlocal 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.

Interlocal 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 interlocal 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 failure to file or post agreements, a court of appeals decision, State v. Plaggemeier (1999), held that an agreement may be found invalid if it has not been filed or posted as required by RCW 39.34.040. Plaggemeier was decided under an earlier version of RCW 39.34.040 which required the filing of an interlocal agreement with the county auditor and secretary of state. That statute, however, has been twice amended and now only requires filing the agreement with the county auditor or listing it on the agency’s website. Even with the change in the statutory language, Plaggemeir is important as it indicates that an interlocal agreement could be invalidated by a court if it is not properly filed or listed.


Joint Municipal Utility Services Authority

The Joint Municipal Utility Services Act (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, operate, and provide facilities and utility services to the public. Under the Act, local governments may enter into joint municipal utility services agreements to form independent municipal corporations to perform any or all of the utility services that their participating members may perform, including water, sewer, stormwater, and flood control services.

Agreements forming an authority must be filed with the Washington state secretary of state which will provide a certificate of filing. An authority is officially formed as of that filing date.

Below are some resources on this topic:


Areas of Interlocal Cooperation and Sample Agreements

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


Cooperation Policies

Some local governments have entered into agreements or adopted policies outlining their intent to pursue opportunities for joint coordination and action on issues of mutual interest with neighboring jurisdictions. See the following sample agreements and policies:


Recommended Resources


Last Modified: November 13, 2019