skip navigation

In Focus: Ask MRSC Sample Issue


Go to our subscription page and sign up to receive In Focus: Ask MRSC today!
 
JULY 2012: #
Month/Year
Ask MRSC is a monthly e-newsletter featuring responses to selected inquiries received by the consultant staff of MRSC.  Submit your own question via our simple online form. 
IN THIS ISSUE
We currently do a biennial budget and the city council is thinking about returning to an annual budget for 2013. What steps need to be taken to do this?
Real estate excise tax coming in is at .25%. We understand that this rate could be up to .5% if we are a "growth management" city. What would be the process to increase the rate to its maximum?
How many councilmembers are required to call a special meeting in a code city with a seven-member council?
Does a code city have the authority to require a business license for landlord-tenant activities?
What is the process for changing a street name?
 
We currently do a biennial budget and the city council is thinking about returning to an annual budget for 2013. What steps need to be taken to do this?

Take a look at RCW 35A.34.040, which reads:
 
All code cities are authorized to establish by ordinance a two-year fiscal biennium budget. The ordinance shall be enacted at least six months prior to commencement of the fiscal biennium and this chapter applies to all code cities which utilize a fiscal biennium budget. Code cities which establish a fiscal biennium budget are authorized to repeal such ordinance and provide for reversion to a fiscal year budget. The ordinance may only be repealed effective as of the conclusion of a fiscal biennium. However, the city shall comply with chapter 35A.33 RCW in developing and adopting the budget for the first fiscal year following repeal of the ordinance.

So, it appears that all you need to do is to, effective December 31, 2012 (the last day of the 2011-2012 biennium), adopt an ordinance repealing the ordinance that adopted the biennial budget and start working on your annual budget, paying attention to all the provisions of chapter 35A.33 RCW.
 
 
Real estate excise tax (REET) coming in is at .25%. We understand that this rate could be up to .5% if we are a "growth management" city. What would be the process to increase the rate to its maximum?
 

Pass this ordinance: Sample Real Estate Excise Tax Ordinance. 

 

Let your county treasurer know that you have passed the tax. Also ask him or her if you should be notifying someone at the state or if he or she (the treasurer) does that.

 

Keep this "REET 2" money in a separate account from "REET 1" receipts because they have different permissible uses.

 

 

 
 
How many councilmembers are required to call a special meeting in a code city with a seven-member council?

 

The problem is that two different statutes authorize a different number of councilmembers to call a special meeting in code cities with a seven-member council. First, RCW 42.30.080, part of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), provides as follows:

 

A special meeting may be called at any time by the presiding officer of the governing body of a public agency or by a majority of the members of the governing body...

 

In a code city with a seven-member council, this would be four councilmembers.

 

Then, there's RCW 35A.12.110, which provides that "Special meetings can be called at any time by the mayor or any three members of the council . . . ." (Emphasis added.) That provision is applicable to council-manager code cities through RCW 35A.13.170.

 

So, in a code city with a seven-member council, these two statutory provisions are in conflict.

 

The position of MRSC is that the OPMA provision controls, which means at least four councilmembers are required to call a special meeting in a code city. We take this position because RCW 42.30.140 in the OPMA provides in part:

 

If any provision of this chapter conflicts with the provisions of any other statute, the provisions of this chapter shall control.

 

 

 Submit a Question  :   Subscribe  :  Search/Browse All Inquiries 

 
Does a code city have the authority to require a business license for landlord-tenant activities?

 

Yes, a code city has the authority to require business licenses of those who are in the business of renting residential property based on its general authority to license business activities (RCW 35A.82.020), although rental housing revenue cannot be subject to municipal business and occupation taxes (Harbour Village Apartments v. Mukilteo, 139 Wn 2d 604 (1999)). Note that RCW 59.18.125, dealing with local government rental inspection programs, presumes such licensing authority with respect to rental housing: "Local municipalities may require that landlords provide a certificate of inspection as a business license condition." A number of cities require business licenses of those who rent housing.

 

   

 Submit a Question  :   Subscribe  :  Search/Browse All Inquiries 

 
What is the process for changing a street name?

 

There is no process set out in state law as to how a city renames a street. So, my questions to you would be: (1) has the city council previously adopted a procedure? (Probably not, or you wouldn't be asking this question.) (2) How has the council previously renamed streets? I realize the latter may be difficult to determine. Assuming that the council has not previously adopted a process and that there is no guidance in the form of a prior ordinance or the like renaming a street, we would recommend the following:

  • A public hearing be held, with notice provided to property owners along the street and to the public generally;
  • Adoption of an ordinance or resolution renaming the street;
  • Notice of the change provided to the post office and emergency service provider(s); and
  • If the name of the street appears in a plat or plats, file a notice of the name change with the county auditor.
 

 Submit a Question  :   Subscribe  :  Search/Browse All Inquiries 

 
Like us on Facebook
 
If you have comments for the newsletter editor, please contact 
Byron Katsuyama, Public Policy & Management Consultant.

Washington city, county and public hospital district officials and members of
 the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts and Enduris
(elected and/or staff) can call or email MRSC free of charge
for advice and information on local government issues.

 

To subscribe to any of our additional e-publications, select the name
of the e-newsletter you wish to receive from the list below:

 


 
 
 
 
 

Municipal Research and Services Center | 2601 Fourth Ave, Ste 800 | Seattle | WA | 98121
 

 more