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Drones: Whether Local Governments Can Regulate Unmanned Aircraft

Drones: Whether Local Governments Can Regulate Unmanned Aircraft

February 25, 2015 by Robert Sepler
Category: Licensing and Regulation , Law Enforcement Services

Throughout the country, law enforcement, businesses, and private citizens have begun to use drones—or have considered doing so—for a variety of purposes. This raises important issues, including how local governments in Washington State can or should regulate the use of this new technology.

Wait, don’t the feds regulate aircraft?
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Establishing Effective Social Media Policies for your Agency

Establishing Effective Social Media Policies for your Agency

February 24, 2015 by Josh Mahar
Category: Social Media

Local governments should, and are, jumping into the social media arena to both disseminate important government information and to gauge public opinion on projects and initiatives. That said, social media can  be a double-edged sword, a few missteps on social media can have serious negative consequences. To ensure your agency uses social media as effectively as possible, I've put together a few key elements you should consider prior to diving in.

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Are Personal Notes Public Records Under the Public Records Act?

Are Personal Notes Public Records Under the Public Records Act?

February 19, 2015 by Joe Levan
Category: Public Records Act

Here’s the scenario: You’re an official or employee of a local government in Washington State and sometimes, at agency meetings, you take notes for your personal use. Are those notes public records under the Public Records Act (PRA) (chapter 42.56 RCW)? The short answer is that it depends on how the notes are created, ...

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2015 Predictions and Prognostications

2015 Predictions and Prognostications

February 19, 2015 by Byron Katsuyama
Category: Management

This is the time of year when various articles aimed at making predictions and prognostications about the issues to watch in the coming year usually start to appear. I look for them because they are a often a good way to find out what local government experts and observers in various fields think will be the most significant state and local government issues over the next twelve months and beyond....

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Hiring the Right Person Part 2: Getting Started

Hiring the Right Person Part 2: Getting Started

February 17, 2015 by Marci Wright
Category: Selection and Recruitment

Vacancies often occur with little notice and at a bad time.  As busy as you are, you lack time and energy to devote to an unexpected, time-consuming recruitment and selection process. You need to refill this job as soon as possible. But, as busy as you are, a wise manager will spend a little time thinking about the vacant position and the process requirements before rushing to hire a new employee.

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Redmond Releases Budget as Interactive Web Tool

Redmond Releases Budget as Interactive Web Tool

February 13, 2015 by Josh Mahar
Category: Budgets and Budgeting , Public Participation

Trying to figure out how to engage your community better in the complex world of local government budgets? Redmond may have an answer for you. The city of 55,000 has come out with a new online tool, Open Budget Redmond, aimed at demystifying the budgeting process. The interactive web portal offers simple filtering and analytics tools that allow citizens, not to mention councilmembers and other city leaders, to quickly and easily dig into various sections of the city’s 2015-2016 biennial budget.

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What are “Land Use Control Ordinances” for Purposes of Subdivision Application Vesting?

What are “Land Use Control Ordinances” for Purposes of Subdivision Application Vesting?

February 11, 2015 by Bob Meinig
Category: Subdivisions and Planned Developments , Legal

RCW 58.17.033, the vesting statute that applies to subdivision and short subdivision applications, states that a complete application for preliminary plat or short plat approval is to be considered under the subdivision/short subdivision ordinance and “zoning or other land use control ordinances” in effect at the time ...

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A Brief Overview of the New JLARC Lodging Tax Reporting System

A Brief Overview of the New JLARC Lodging Tax Reporting System

February 5, 2015 by Toni Nelson
Category: Lodging Tax (Hotel-Motel Tax)

Last month, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) launched its new web-based reporting system for filing your 2014 lodging tax data. While the new system is fairly easy to use, we thought it would be good to give you quick debrief of the process, as well as remind you to set up your reporting portal whether you have data to submit in 2014 or not. JLARC will be collecting data for both those municipalities that distributed lodging tax as well as those that did not.    
 

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Do Public Employees Lose Their Freedom of Speech?

Do Public Employees Lose Their Freedom of Speech?

February 3, 2015 by Lynn Nordby
Category:

I suspect every local government executive has experienced the situation where an employee unexpectedly steps to the microphone during a public comment period or gets a letter published about a government issue in a local newspaper. When this happens can, or should, the executive prevent an employee from speaking out on issues or take any action against an employee?

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Why is Property Tax So Complicated?

Why is Property Tax So Complicated?

February 2, 2015 by Tracey Dunlap
Category: Revenue and Taxation , Finance Advisor

In this month's Finance Advisor column, Tracey Dunlap, City of Kirkland Director of Finance and Administration, gives us a "property tax 101" overview of the limits on regular property taxes.

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Important Tips for Writing Your Agency’s Procurement Policies

Important Tips for Writing Your Agency’s Procurement Policies

January 29, 2015 by John W. Carpita, PE
Category: Purchasing and Bidding

Adherence to an agency-wide procurement policy/procedure manual is critical to combat irregularities in purchasing and bidding and maintain public trust. If your agency doesn’t yet have a procurement manual, or if you’re looking to give yours a refresher, I’ve put together a few tips in checklist form to help you get started.

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What if We Accidentally Overpaid an Employee?

What if We Accidentally Overpaid an Employee?

January 28, 2015 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Compensation

Consider this hypothetical scenario: when I was just starting out as a city employee, I was joined in my office by the city accountant. She informed me that I had been overpaid. (What?! How can that be? If anything, I must have been underpaid!) Sadly, it was true. Due to a mathematical error, my paycheck for the first three months of the year was for an amount greater than it should have been. My first thought likely was “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” Unfortunately for me, that wasn’t the accountant’s first thought; I was expected to repay the amount I was overpaid. Here's why that's the case and how the overpayment should be repaid.

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Not to Be Too Alarmist, but, Being a Realist …

Not to Be Too Alarmist, but, Being a Realist …

January 27, 2015 by Jim McEntire
Category: Revenue and Taxation , Council-Commission Advisor

Aside from locally derived tax revenues, cities and counties with slow-to-no economic growth coupled with higher-than-state-average unemployment can expect scant additional financial help from the State and Federal budgets.

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New Records Retention Guidance for Sensitive Authentication Data

New Records Retention Guidance for Sensitive Authentication Data

January 22, 2015 by Flannary Collins
Category: Public Records Act

The Secretary of State’s Local Government Common Records Retention Schedule (CORE) has a brand new category concerning the destruction of “Sensitive Authentication Data” obtained during fin...

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New NACo Tool Shows Post-Recession Recoveries Are Most Pronounced around Tri-Cities, Seattle

New NACo Tool Shows Post-Recession Recoveries Are Most Pronounced around Tri-Cities, Seattle

January 21, 2015 by Josh Mahar
Category:

Remember late last year when we tipped you off to the National Association of Counties (NACo) powerful County Explorer tool? Well, this month NACo released its first report showcasing the new resource. Called the Economic Tracker, the report compares how counties have recovered from the 2008 economic downturn by lo...

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Top Picks from MRSC’s News Scan

Top Picks from MRSC’s News Scan

January 20, 2015 by Byron Katsuyama
Category:

Each week I scan the Web for interesting and useful news, blog posts, articles, and reports from a variety of local government related sources and post them to the “In Focus” section of MRSC’s homepage. Here are the top picks from my most recent “In Focus” scans:

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Hiring the Right Person Part 1: An Overview

Hiring the Right Person Part 1: An Overview

January 16, 2015 by Marci Wright
Category: Selection and Recruitment

For most managers, the most important decisions you make are hiring decisions. Unfortunately many managers make a common mistake in their approach to hiring that results in making a poor choice.

Hiring for a vacant position is a rare opportunity to make positive change in an organization by adding great new employee. Getting the right individual in the right job is a critical building block for any thriving organization.

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May a City Council Meet Outside the Corporate Limits of the City?

May a City Council Meet Outside the Corporate Limits of the City?

January 14, 2015 by Pat Mason
Category: Council Meetings and Hearings

The statutes that apply to cities and towns do not limit where the city or town council can meet, although, except for the statutes that apply to first class cities, they do contain a limitation on what types of action may be taken at a meeting being held outside the corporate limits.

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Planning Consultant Carol Tobin Retires

Planning Consultant Carol Tobin Retires

January 13, 2015 by Carol Tobin
Category:

This is the end of an era for planning consultants at MRSC. At the end of January, I am following Sue Enger into retirement. This is a bittersweet time for me, as I have truly enjoyed working with local governments in Washington and with the fine, dedicated staff at MRSC for more than 20 years.

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Recreational and Medical Marijuana in Washington State – Looking Back at 2014 and Ahead to 2015

Recreational and Medical Marijuana in Washington State – Looking Back at 2014 and Ahead to 2015

January 7, 2015 by Jim Doherty
Category: Recreational and Medical Marijuana

Last year, 2014, will be remembered as the year that the recreational marijuana industry in Washington State started operations. Recreational marijuana is now being grown and processed at various licensed locations throughout the state, and it is available in licensed retail stores in many cities and counties. The transition has been gradual – many cities and some counties are still on the sidelines, and some have opted out entirely. See our map for a comprehensive picture, with links to the current local government zoning ordinances or other documents for details. The national trend is toward more expansive availability, as is evidenced by two more states (Oregon and Alaska) joining Washington and Colorado in the shift to a regulated marijuana market.

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