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April 2013


Biggert-Waters Act—Build Safer and Smarter; Sticker Shock Ahead for Floodplain Homeowners

Biggert-Waters Act—Build Safer and Smarter; Sticker Shock Ahead for Floodplain Homeowners

April 29, 2013 by Sue Enger
Category: Emergency Management

In addition to April flowers and showers, floods are too often a harbinger of spring.   Recent federal legislation significantly impacts local floodplain programs and future National Flood Insurance...

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More Sage Advice for Councils and Commissions

More Sage Advice for Councils and Commissions

April 22, 2013 by Byron Katsuyama
Category: Legislative Body

MRSC has been fortunate to have so many generous Council/Commission, HR, Finance, Planning, and Open Government Advisors over the years who have been willing to share their time and expertise writing columns filled with insightful analysis and sage advice for Washington local government officials and...

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Making a Difference

Making a Difference

April 19, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

I've always held the opinion that most of my colleagues in public management and, indeed most public employees, are generally motivated by a call to service. To borrow from an old U.S. Army recruiting slogan, “It's...

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What Can Be Done if an Elected Official Divulges Information from an Executive Session?

What Can Be Done if an Elected Official Divulges Information from an Executive Session?

April 19, 2013 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Open Public Meetings Act

Believe it or not, but there are good reasons for a local elected governing body such as a city council or port district board of commissioners to discuss some matters in a confidential, private setting - in an executive (closed) session. This is recognized in the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), which provides that certain specific subjects may be discussed by such bodies in executive session.

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Be Aware and Beware  of Interest Rate Risk

Be Aware and Beware of Interest Rate Risk

April 11, 2013 by Judy Cox
Category: Financial Management

Last November, the Office of the State Treasurer published a memo titled “Looking for Yield in a Low Rate Environment: Risks to Avoid.” Five months later, we still have a “low rate environment,” and the advice given in that...

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Caseload Limits for Indigent Defense Standards Delayed Until January 1, 2015

Caseload Limits for Indigent Defense Standards Delayed Until January 1, 2015

April 10, 2013 by Bob Meinig
Category: Courts, Criminal Justice and Corrections

As part of the new Standards for Indigent Defense, caseload limits were to take effect on September 1, 2013, while the rest of the standards took effect on October 1, 2012. However, the state supreme court has now delayed the implementation of caseload limits until January 1, 2015, to provide time for the Washington State Office of Public Defense to conduct a "statewide attorney time study" and...

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How Are Abstentions Handled When Counting Votes?

How Are Abstentions Handled When Counting Votes?

April 4, 2013 by Pat Mason
Category: Legislative Body

Sometimes a member of a local governing body (such as a city council, board of county commissioners, planning commission, or special district board) does not, for whatever reason, want to cast a vote on a matter that is being considered by that body, and so that member abstains. Assuming that the governing body allows the member to abstain, how is that abstention treated for vote counting...

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Award Program for Small Entities

Award Program for Small Entities

April 1, 2013 by Mike Bailey
Category: Finance Advisor , Financial Reporting

In this column I wanted to pass along news that I'm hoping will be an opportunity for many of our smaller governments here in Washington State to get outside recognition for their financial reporting work. The Government Finance Officers Association has had a financial reporting recognition program in place for decades and many of our larger governments have been able to benefit from it. While I...

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Why Retreats Don't Work and What to do About it

Why Retreats Don't Work and What to do About it

April 1, 2013 by Eric Svaren
Category: Management , HR Advisor

At a non-profit start-up, the entire staff meet to review their progress and address strategic and tactical challenges. Deep conversations emerge about the value the non-profit creates, people's personal commitment to the mission, and how to continue to grow sustainably, without burning out staff or burning up working capital. After two days, participants leave new clarity and understanding about...

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A Little Bit Pregnant: The Multi-Personalities of Site Specific Rezones - Or - A Cheat Sheet for Everything You Need to Know about Site-Specific Rezones

A Little Bit Pregnant: The Multi-Personalities of Site Specific Rezones - Or - A Cheat Sheet for Everything You Need to Know about Site-Specific Rezones

April 1, 2013 by Phil Olbrechts
Category: Land Use Administration , Planning Advisor

We just can't help ourselves. We have to categorize everything. Put them into neat little boxes. We especially like to do that in the laws we pass. Land use laws are no exception. We start the boxing process for land use laws by throwing an issue in either the “legislative” or “permitting” box. That's usually an easy task. Except for site specific rezones. Sometimes site...

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