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How much should a city or county have in general fund reserves?
Reviewed: 04/17

In short, it depends. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) used to provide recommended ranges, but GFOA stopped doing so because there is too much variability and it really depends on the specific needs and circumstances of each jurisdiction. For more guidance, including key questions to consider, examples from other jurisdictions, and links to best practices, see our page on Fund Balance and Reserve Policies.

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Can you clarify the rates listed for each category in the B & O Tax model ordinance?
Reviewed: 04/17

The maximum rates that can be imposed for a B&O Tax is .0020. The applicable statutory reference is RCW 35.21.710 which states in part:

The taxing authority granted to cities for taxes upon business activities measured by gross receipts or gross income from sales shall not exceed a rate of .0020 . . . .

This maximum rate is applicable to each of the classifications of business, which are: wholesale, retailing, manufacturing, and services.

For more information, see MRSC’s B&O Tax topic page, which provides additional information, such as the current 2016 list of cities that have adopted the B&O Tax, as well as links to AWC materials that contain additional legislative information on this topic.

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How do other cities deal with fee in lieu of park land dedication or park impact fees for mixed-use developments?
Reviewed: 04/17

Please see the following:

Codes that address applicability of park impact fees to mixed use developments:

Codes limiting park fees to residential units in mixed-use developments:

Codes that apply park impact fees to commercial uses:

We did not find any provisions applying a fee in-lieu of park land dedication requirement for mixed-use projects.

You may also be interested in MRSC’s Impact Fee topic page.

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Are draft documents considered public records?
Reviewed: 04/17

Yes, draft documents are public records, assuming, of course, that they otherwise meet the definition of “public record” in RCW 42.56.010(3). As public records, they may be exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56.280, which exempts (emphasis added):

Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memorandums in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended are exempt under this chapter, except that a specific record is not exempt when publicly cited by an agency in connection with any agency action.

The fact that they are drafts does not then, by itself, make such documents exempt from disclosure. In PAWS v. University of Washington, 125 Wn.2d 243, 256 (1994), the Washington Supreme Court established a test to determine whether this exemption applies in a particular case:

In order to rely on this exemption, an agency must show that the records contain predecisional opinions or recommendations of subordinates expressed as part of a deliberative process; that disclosure would be injurious to the deliberative or consultative function of the process; that disclosure would inhibit the flow of recommendations, observations, and opinions; and finally, that the materials covered by the exemption reflect policy recommendations and opinions and not the raw factual data on which a decision is based.

For more information regarding this public disclosure exemption, see our Explaining the PRA's Deliberative Process Exemption blog post.

So, the determination needs to be made on a document-by-document basis whether draft documents are exempt from disclosure under this exemption.

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Do advisory committees need to take minutes of their meetings?
Reviewed: 04/17

If the committee at issue is a “governing body” of a “public agency” within the meaning of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), then that the committee would, under state law, be required to take minutes of its regular and special meetings.

The key provision of state law is RCW 42.32.030, which states that:

The minutes of all regular and special meetings except executive sessions of such boards, commissions, agencies or authorities shall be promptly recorded and such records shall be open to public inspection.

Since RCW 42.32.030 specifically refers to “all regular and special meeting,” the requirement to take minutes appears to only extend to meetings that are subject to the OPMA, because those terms only have relevance within the context of the OPMA. See RCW 42.30.070.080. Only the meetings of a “governing body” of a “public agency” are subject to the OPMA. See, e.g., RCW 42.30.030. As RCW 42.30.020(1) and (2) make clear, the terms “governing body” and “public agency” are defined in such a manner that would generally subject planning commissions, parks commissions, as well as advisory committees—when they “act on behalf” of the governing body—to the OPMA.

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Is an employee's personal email address included in a standard city email message subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act?
Reviewed: 04/17

Yes, the personal email address in this context must be disclosed if the email message at issue is responsive to a public records request made under the PRA. The only exemptions that may apply to an employee’s personal email address are:

  • RCW 42.56.230(3) (exempting personal information in files maintained for employees…to the extent that disclosure would violate their right to privacy); and
  • RCW 42.56.250(3) (exempting personal email addresses held by a public agency in personnel records)

In this circumstance, the employee’s personal email address appears just in a standard email message and not in files maintained for employees or in the agency’s personnel records. Therefore, it cannot be redacted.

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What is the proper purchasing procedure for construction software that would be used by city inspectors?
Reviewed: 03/17

First, you need to determine whether this is a purchase of supplies or of services. The following Q&A is from MRSC’s City Bidding Book:

Is the purchase of computer software a purchase of supplies or a purchase of services?
It depends. If the software is “off-the-shelf” (or predominantly so), then it is a purchase of supplies. If the primary or sole cost is for consultant services to customize the program for the city, it is a purchase of services.

Assuming this is software of a largely “off-the-shelf” variety, it would be a purchase of “supplies, materials, or equipment” and only needs to be bid if the cost of that software is over $7,500 and if the entity is a code city with under 20,000 in population, a second class city or a town. There is no state law requirement for code cities over 20,000 to go out for bids for the purchase of materials, supplies and equipment.

However, a couple exemptions from the competitive bidding requirement may apply, including RCW 39.04.280 (i.e., single source and special market conditions), and the alternative competitive negotiation procedure available under RCW 39.04.270 for software (data processing) purchases. MRSC’s Telecommunications and Data Processing Purchases topic page lists the steps for following this alternative process.

If instead this is a purchase of services, then it is a non A&E service. Therefore, there are no specific statutory requirements to obtain these services for any type of city. For more information, see MRSC’s Personal Services Contracts topic page.

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The town has two newly appointed councilmembers. Do they need to take the same open government training that the elected councilmembers had to take?
Reviewed: 03/17

Yes, a town’s appointed councilmembers will need to complete the open government training no later than ninety days after they either: (1) take the oath of office; or (2) otherwise assume their duties as a public official. Specifically, RCW 42.56.150(1) states as follows (emphasis added):

Each local elected official and statewide elected official, and each person appointed to fill a vacancy in a local or statewide office, must complete a training course regarding the provisions of this chapter, and also chapter 40.14 RCW for records retention.

Similarly, RCW 42.30.205(1) states (emphasis added):

Every member of the governing body of a public agency must complete training on the requirements of this chapter [i.e., the OPMA]. . . .

Just like elected councilmembers, appointed councilmembers are members of the governing body of a public agency (i.e., the town council). Therefore, they must complete the required training.

Our OPMA and PRA Training Requirements Apply to Officials Elected in 2016 blog post provides an overview of some good options for completing the required training online.

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May an agency use public funds to purchase a gift card to be given as a prize to a randomly drawn individual who participated in a survey put out by the agency?
Reviewed: 03/17

Assuming that the survey is collecting information that would assist the agency in its official business (i.e., there is a valid municipal purpose), it is likely permissible to use city funds to purchase the gift card.

For there to be an impermissible “gift” of public funds under article 8, section 7 of the state constitution, the agency would have to receive nothing in return and have the intent that it receive nothing in return.

In this scenario, there is a public/municipal purpose for the drawing—to get greater participation in the survey, which would presumably provide valuable information to be used toward a public purpose. So, the agency receives something of “value” (i.e., information) in return for its expenditure on the drawing prize. Therefore, the expenditure of public funds on a drawing prize to increase participation in an agency’s survey is likely a permissible expenditure of public funds.

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Can city councilmembers attend a planning commission hearing on a subdivision that the city council will later consider based on the planning commission's recommendation?
Reviewed: 03/17

Councilmembers should be cautious about attending a planning commission meeting at which a quasi-judicial matter will be considered.

City councilmembers may attend meetings of the planning commission if the planning commission is meeting in its legislative role. This would include a councilmember acting as the council’s “liaison” to the planning commission. The appearance of fairness doctrine only applies to quasi-judicial actions, so it is generally permissible for councilmembers to attend planning commission meetings regarding legislative actions. For example, the adoption (or update) of a new comprehensive plan for the city is a legislative action, so the appearance of fairness doctrine would not directly apply.

In contrast, caution is warranted with respect to councilmembers attending meetings of the planning commission if the planning commission is meeting on a quasi-judicial matter. The recommendation of the planning commission on quasi-judicial matters usually is forwarded to the council for final action. This raises the possibility that a challenge could be made to a councilmember’s participation when the issue comes before the council for their final decision if the councilmember attended the earlier meeting of the planning commission on the same issue. This is particularly true if the councilmember acted in an advocacy role at the earlier meeting.

Additionally, a policy argument might be made that the independent advisory body should be able to consider their recommendations without undue influence by the legislative body that appointed them to make independent recommendations. Under this policy argument, the presence or active participation of the councilmember in the advisory commissions’ deliberations arguably impairs the ability of the advisory commission to act independently and impartially in making their recommendations.

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In a council-manager code city, does the city manager work for the city council or the city itself? Also, does the manager occupy a separate and distinct branch of government (similar to the federal government)?
Reviewed: 03/17

Under the council-manager plan, the city manager is the head of the executive branch of the city government, which is separate and distinct from the legislative branch, the city council. In other words, the city council makes decisions regarding policy and the city manager administers those policies and supervises city staff.

Although the council retains, under RCW 35A.13.130, the power to appoint and remove the manager by majority vote, RCW 35A.13.120 generally prohibits the city council from interfering in the daily operation of the executive branch. So, a city manager is best characterized as an official/employee of the city, given that the manager is the independent head of the executive branch.

For more information on the relationship between the city manager and the city council, see the following resources:

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Must a person file a claim via RCW 4.96.020 before filing a PRA lawsuit against the county?
Reviewed: 02/17

In brief, no. Our position at MRSC has been that the claim filing requirements in RCW 4.96.020 don’t apply to a lawsuit based on an alleged violation of the Public Records Act (PRA). RCW 4.96.020, and chapter 4.96 RCW more generally, addresses tort claims, tortious conduct, and claims for damages, but a PRA lawsuit isn’t a tort claim or a claim for damage.

If an agency is found by a court to have violated the PRA, the court may impose penalties as well as attorney fees and costs, but such remedies are different in kind than damages arising out of tortious conduct as provided for under RCW 4.96.020. See, e.g., Amren v. City of Kalama, 131 Wn.2d 25, 36 (1997) (“Since the award [for a PRA violation] has been treated as a penalty it is not necessary for a party to show actual damages to receive the statutory award.”)

The following excerpt from a more recent decision, Corey v. Pierce County, 154 Wn. App. 752 (2010), also indicates that a tort claim for damages is different in kind that a claim under the PRA. In part, the court explains and concludes (at pp. 765-766):

Case law does not support a tort cause of action for damages due to negligent disclosure of unsubstantiated information. Instead, the concern for privacy noted by the trial court stems from the Public Records Act (PRA). Ch. 42.56 RCW. Under the PRA, an invasion of privacy occurs “if disclosure of information about the person: (1) Would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and (2) is not of legitimate concern to the public.” RCW 42.56.050. In Dawson v. Daly, a prosecutor sought an injunction to prevent the release of a deputy prosecutor’s personnel file. 120 Wn.2d 782, 788, 845 P.2d 995 (1993). The court determined that the disclosure of the prosecutor’s performance evaluations that did not discuss specific instances of misconduct was highly offensive and lacking in legitimate public interest. Id. at 800. The right to privacy was protected through injunction. Nowhere is there a discussion of a tort action for damages in the event of a violation of the right of privacy. Furthermore, the court did not address the proper standard to be applied if the personnel file did include allegations of misconduct.

Based on the legal principles articulated above, because a claim under the PRA wouldn’t be a claim for damages, the claim filing requirements in chapter 4.96 RCW wouldn’t apply to such a PRA claim.

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Does the city council of a code city have to hold a public hearing to extend a moratorium?
Reviewed: 02/17

The relevant statute for moratoria for code cities is RCW 35A.63.220, which states as follows (emphasis added):

A legislative body that adopts a moratorium or interim zoning ordinance, without holding a public hearing on the proposed moratorium or interim zoning ordinance, shall hold a public hearing on the adopted moratorium or interim zoning ordinance within at least sixty days of its adoption, whether or not the legislative body received a recommendation on the matter from the planning agency. If the legislative body does not adopt findings of fact justifying its action before this hearing, then the legislative body shall do so immediately after this public hearing. A moratorium or interim zoning ordinance adopted under this section may be effective for not longer than six months, but may be effective for up to one year if a work plan is developed for related studies providing for such a longer period. A moratorium of [or] interim zoning ordinance may be renewed for one or more six-month periods if a subsequent public hearing is held and findings of fact are made prior to each renewal.

So, based on this provision, a public hearing is required prior to each extension.

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Can a city, through a vote of the people, institute a public safety property tax levy for its own police/fire when the county it is in has already instituted a public safety levy for its own (county) function?
Reviewed: 02/17

Yes. When it comes to property tax levies, the city and the county do not overlap.

RCW 84.52.052 provides the city with the ability to present to the voters an "excess levy" for general government purposes for a one year levy, or, if the city has levy capacity remaining, it can present a levy lid lift to the voters (RCW 84.55.050).

For more information on levy lid lifts, see MRSC’s Levy Lid Lift topic page, as well as MRSC’s Revenue Guide for WA Cities and Towns.

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Must prevailing wages be paid for snow removal contracts?
Reviewed: 02/17

A contract for shoveling sidewalks by hand is a purchased service not subject to prevailing wages or bid laws since it is not a contract for "construction, reconstruction, maintenance or repair" as those words are used in RCW 39.12.030.

In contrast, a contract for shoveling snow off a roof is maintaining the asset (i.e., the building) and is subject to prevailing wages.

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May a code city compensate its planning commissioners?
Reviewed: 02/17

RCW 35.63.030 states that planning commission members for non-code city cities “shall serve without compensation.” There is no similar language in the code city statutes. RCW 35A.63.020 provides that the city “may create a planning agency and provide for its membership, organization, and expenses.” We think that such language (and the lack of prohibition) would allow a code city to pay its planning commission members.

Some code cities have provided for compensation, including the following:

Bonney Lake Municipal Code Sec. 2.26.060:
Each member of the planning commission shall be compensated in the amount of $50.00 per planning commission meeting attended, including joint meetings of the planning commission and the city council; provided, that no planning commission member shall be compensated for attendance at more than two planning commission meetings per calendar month, including attendance at any joint meetings of the planning commission and the city council; and provided further, that the chair or designee of the planning commission shall, in addition, be compensated $25.00 for attendance at a council meeting where such attendance is required by BLMC 2.26.030. (Ord. 875 § 5, 2001).
Duvall Municipal Code Sec 2.15.040:
Beginning on January 1, 1994, each member of the planning commission shall be paid twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for attendance at each regular meeting of the planning commission and twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for attendance at each special meeting of the planning commission but not to exceed three such special meetings for compensation in one calendar year. (Ord. #690, 1993).
Monroe Municipal Code Sec. 2.32.010:
B. The members shall be selected without respect to political affiliations. They may be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in performing their official duties.
C. Salaries of Commissioners. Each city planning commissioner may be paid for attending commission meetings and workshops an amount not exceeding seventy-five dollars per meeting for not more than one meeting each week. (Ord. 013/2015 § 1; Ord. 004/2011 § 3; Ord. 031/2007 § 1; Ord. 022/2004; Ord. 1044, 1994; Ord. 875, 1988; Ord. 666, 1978).

Several code cities only reimburse for expenses, including the following

Goldendale Municipal Code Sec. 2.48.030:
The members of the planning commission shall serve without compensation, but they shall be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in performing their official duties. The city council shall from time to time, as may be necessary, provide by ordinance for funds for the necessary expenditures and costs of operation of such commission. (Prior code §2.24.030)
Kent Municipal Code Sec. 2.57.020:
F. The appointed members of the land use and planning board shall serve without compensation except that reimbursement for authorized travel and subsistence may be made to the extent such may be budgeted for by the city council. Reimbursement for such shall come from the city budget category designated land use and planning board, travel and mileage and subsistence. (Ord. No. 3512, § 14, 6-6-00).
Maple Valley Municipal Code Sec. 2.35.050:
The members of the Planning Commission shall serve without compensation, but necessary expenses of the Commission actually incurred shall be paid from appropriate City funds. (Ord. O-99-80 § 3; Ord. O-97-15 § 5).
Toppenish Municipal Code Sec. 2.30.070:
All members of advisory commissions shall serve without compensation but may be reimbursed actual training expense upon the prior approval of the city manager. (Ord. 2004-4 § 1, 2004).

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Must a fireworks ordinance that is more restrictive than state law actually be in effect on June 28 to be effective the
following 4th of July fireworks season, or would it be enough if it is merely adopted before June 28?

Reviewed: 02/17

RCW 70.77.250(4), relating to local regulations more strict than the state's, says:

Any ordinances adopted by a county or city that are more restrictive than state law shall have an effective date no sooner than one year after their adoption.

(Emphasis added.) Given this, the ordinance could not go into effect until one year after the council votes on the ordinance. So, to be in effect as of the beginning of the 2018 4th of July fireworks season (which begins on June 28), the council must adopt (vote to approve) the ordinance no later than June 27, 2017.

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Does a city have any authority (or say) in what the speed limit should be on a state highway that runs through its boundaries?
Reviewed: 01/17

There is a process for a city to change speed limits set forth in RCW 46.61.415. Note, that in order to reduce the speed limit, an engineering and traffic investigation must be done. In relevant part, RCW 46.61.415(1) states:

Whenever local authorities in their respective jurisdictions determine on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that the maximum speed permitted under RCW 46.61.400 or 46.61.440 is greater or less than is reasonable and safe under the conditions found to exist upon a highway or part of a highway, the local authority may determine and declare a reasonable and safe maximum limit thereon which
  1. Decreases the limit at intersections; or
  2. Increases the limit but not to more than sixty miles per hour; or
  3. Decreases the limit but not to less than twenty miles per hour.

But more to the point of the question, this statute also describes the process for changing a speed limit on a state highway that goes through a city. RCW 46.61.415(6) provides (emphasis added):

Any alteration of maximum limits on state highways within incorporated cities or towns by local authorities shall not be effective until such alteration has been approved by the secretary of transportation.

So, if a city council was to lower the speed limit on the portion of a state highway that runs through the city, the change could not go into effect unless and until the state Department of Transportation approves. This approval requirement is in addition to the traffic study described above.

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Our code city has a mayor and five councilmembers. If the mayor and two councilmembers (including the mayor pro-tem) are unable to make the meeting, can the other three councilmembers be a quorum
without a mayor or mayor pro-tem?

Reviewed: 01/17

Yes, three councilmembers of a five-member council will constitute a quorum for purposes of holding a meeting of the council, even if the mayor and mayor pro-tem do not attend the meeting. RCW 35A.12.110 provides, in part (our emphasis):

Meetings of the council shall be presided over by the mayor, if present, or otherwise by the mayor pro tempore, or deputy mayor if one has been appointed, or by a member of the council selected by a majority of the councilmembers at such meeting. Appointment of a councilmember to preside over the meeting shall not in any way abridge his or her right to vote on matters coming before the council at such meeting.

Note, too, that RCW 35A.12.120 states, in part, that "At all meetings of the council a majority of the councilmembers shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business . . . ."

In the situation you described, the three councilmembers who attend the meeting would constitute a quorum and would, at the start of the meeting, select one of those three councilmembers to be the presiding officer for that meeting. The appointment of that councilmember to be the presiding officer for that meeting "shall not in any way abridge his or her right to vote on matters coming before the council at such meeting."

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Is an Lodging Tax Advisory Committee limited to reviewing funding applications once per year or can this be done on an on-going, case-by-case manner?
Reviewed: 01/17

Reference should be made to RCW 67.28.1817(2):

(2) Any municipality that proposes imposition of a tax under this chapter, an increase in the rate of a tax imposed under this chapter, repeal of an exemption from a tax imposed under this chapter, or a change in the use of revenue received under this chapter shall submit the proposal to the lodging tax advisory committee for review and comment. The submission shall occur at least forty-five days before final action on or passage of the proposal by the municipality. The advisory committee shall submit comments on the proposal in a timely manner through generally applicable public comment procedures. The comments shall include an analysis of the extent to which the proposal will accommodate activities for tourists or increase tourism, and the extent to which the proposal will affect the long-term stability of the fund created under RCW 67.28.1815. Failure of the advisory committee to submit comments before final action on or passage of the proposal shall not prevent the municipality from acting on the proposal. A municipality is not required to submit an amended proposal to an advisory committee under this section.

While typically, we think, a city or county will solicit requests for funding once a year and then have its lodging tax committee review all of the requests before making a funding recommendation to the legislative body, the above statute does not require that. The statute merely requires that final action be delayed for 45 days and that the committee submit its comments before the commission takes its action. We do not read this statute as requiring review of proposals all at one time. Perhaps that would be the fairest way to consider all possible proposals (assuming that funds are limited), but the statute does not require it. Thus in our opinion, the county could consider a proposal (or proposals) throughout the year.

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When does an employee become eligible for unemployment benefits?
Reviewed: 01/17

Regarding eligibility for unemployment benefits, page 9 of the state Employment Security Department’s (ESD) Handbook for Unemployed Workers does a great job summarizing the requirements. According to the ESD, some of the key requirements are that one must be:

  • Employed for at least 680 hours in their base year in covered employment.
  • Unemployed for reasons that are not their fault.
  • Able to and available for work.
  • Actively seeking suitable work.
  • Legally authorized to work in the United States and have been authorized to work during their base year.

The appendix to the handbook then goes on to define the words and terms highlighted in bold above.

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If a road is dedicated to the public in a subdivision within the unincorporated county, does that make the road a county road? Or, does the road still need to the established pursuant to chapter 36.81 RCW?
Reviewed: 01/17

If a road is dedicated to the public in a subdivision within the unincorporated county, that road is a county road. The process in chapter 36.81 RCW would thus not be used. AGLO 1970 No. 46 addresses the methods by which a county road may be established:

In our opinion there are several methods by which a highway may become a county road. One method is, of course, by means of the formal procedure set forth in chapter 36.81 RCW.

A second method is by dedication of roads in a plat duly approved by county authorities.

See also AGO 1952 No. 307 (“When the county commissioners by appropriate action approve a proposed plat without reservation concerning the roads designated therein, those roads become county roads.”).

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May sewer lines cross rural lands to serve another portion of a UGA without violating RCW 36.70A.110(4)?
Reviewed: 01/17

RCW 36.70A.110(4)’s prohibition against extending urban services to rural areas does not prevent a jurisdiction from allowing urban governmental services to traverse a rural area to service another UGA. In Heikkila v. City of Winlock, the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board (WWGMHB) addressed a challenge to a jurisdiction’s planning policies that would allow the extension of urban services from one UGA to another UGA that required the infrastructure to pass through rural land. The WWGMHB concluded that such services could pass through rural lands so long as they did not provide service in the rural areas. In relevant part, the WWGMHB wrote:

The prohibition in RCW 36.70A.110(4) does not apply to urban services in urban growth areas. Urban growth areas by definition are allowed to have urban levels of growth and should have the urban services to support that growth. See RCW 36.70A.030(17), (18), and (19). Nor can the statute be read to mean that water service lines cannot pass through rural lands. The reason for the prohibition in RCW 36.70A.110(4) against providing urban services to rural areas is that urban services in the rural areas would create pressure to urbanize the rural areas and create sprawl. Thurston County v. Cooper Point Association, 148 Wn. 2d 1, 57 P. 3d 1156 (2002). If the Winlock water lines just traverse the rural areas and do not serve them, it will not violate RCW 36.70A.110(4).

The Petitioner does not point to any statutory prohibition against providing water services from one UGA to another. The burden is on the Petitioner(s) to demonstrate why the challenged amendments violate the GMA. The legislature has directed the boards to grant deference to counties and cities in how they plan for growth, consistent with the goals and requirements of the GMA. RCW 36.70A.3201. Comprehensive plan amendments are presumed valid upon adoption. RCW 36.70A.320. Here, as the Central Board stated in Gain v. Pierce County, CPSGMHB Case No. 99-3-0019 (Final Decision and Order, April 18, 2000), “Petitioners offer no statutory provisions to support their assertion that sewer [or water] lines must be confined within the boundaries of UGAs and cannot pass through rural areas.” RCW 36.70A.110(4) does not preclude municipalities from providing water service from one UGA to another.

Conclusion: RCW 36.70A.110(4) does not prohibit a municipality from extending water service from its own UGA to another GMA-compliant UGA. Because we find that non-compliance has not been proved, there can be no finding of substantial interference with the goals of the GMA based on RCW 36.70A.110(4). . . .

For more information, see Heikkila v. City of Winlock, WWGMHB No. 04-2-0020c. Order on Motions at 6 (Jan. 10, 2005). See also Fallgatter v. City of Sultan, CPSGMHB Case Nos. 06-3-0003, 06-3-0034, 07-3-0017 Combined Order of Compliance at 11 (Nov. 10, 2008) (“[T]he Board has previously found that sewer lines extending beyond the UGA into the rural area to re-connect with the UGA or another UGA is not prohibited under the GMA, so long as connections to such a line in the rural area are prohibited.”).

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Do reelected public officials need to be sworn in?
Reviewed: 01/17

Yes, an elected official must take the oath of office every time he or she is reelected. For purposes of the election statutes, RCW 29A.04.133 defines the term “qualified,” when pertaining to a winner of an election, to mean that for such election:

(1) The results have been certified;

(2) Any required bond has been posted; and

(3) The winner has taken and subscribed an oath or affirmation in compliance with the appropriate statute, or if none is specified, that he or she will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office to the best of his or her ability. This oath or affirmation shall be administered and certified by any officer or notary public authorized to administer oaths, without charge therefore.

We have a very good publication addressing this issue, which will give you more detail. It is called Getting into Office: Being Elected or Appointed into Office in Washington Counties, Cities, Towns, and Special Districts.

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Can the city surplus and sell an old city vehicle as a “direct sale,” or does it legally have to go to bid?
Reviewed: 12/16

A “direct sale” is permissible provided that the city council declares the property to be surplus and authorizes the manner of sale. There is no requirement that surplus city property be offered to all, or put up at auction, or that bids be requested. Cities do not have required procedures for the disposal of surplus property as do counties in chapter 36.34 RCW. The property can be sold to a specific individual, if that is what council wishes to do. However, the council should still declare the property surplus to the city's needs and set a price below which it will not be sold. Obviously, if the council has adopted a policy regarding sale of surplus property, that policy should be followed.

For more information, please see our Sale of Surplus City or Town Property topic page, which includes general information and sample policies.

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