City and Town Budget Calendars
This page shows the statutory deadlines for cities and towns in Washington State to prepare a budget for the coming year, along with examples of planning calendars adopted by cities and towns that go beyond the minimum statutory requirements.
It is part of MRSC's series on Budgeting in Washington State.
For cities and towns that prepare an annual budget, the statutory requirements are found in chapter 35A.33 RCW (code cities) and chapter 35.33 RCW (all other cities and towns except Seattle) and outlined below. Seattle has different requirements that are not discussed here.
Cities and towns that have adopted a biennial (two-year) budget have the same statutory deadlines (see chapters 35.34 RCW and 35A.34 RCW), with the addition of a budget review and adjustment eight to 12 months into the first year. By law, the biennium must begin on January 1 of an odd-numbered year.
The current biennial period is 2023-2024, which means all cities and towns using a biennial budget prepared their initial budgets in 2022 and conducted a mid-biennium review and adjustment in 2023. All cities and towns using a biennial budget process must prepare a new budget for 2024-25. For more information on biennial budgets generally, see our page on Biennial Budgeting.
Below is an overview of the budgeting process and statutory deadlines. The pre-budget items listed here are included as recommendations only and are not required by statute. The rest of the items are statutory deadlines only – cities and towns can take these steps earlier than the dates listed, and the statutes allow cities and towns to adopt different deadlines for some of these steps by ordinance or charter.
For a detailed explanation of the budget requirements, as well as some helpful practice tips, see our page City and Town Budget Procedures.
For examples of budget calendars adopted by cities and towns that go beyond the minimum statutory requirements, see the examples section below. We recommend that each city and town develop a timeline that best meets its needs, ensures compliance with the statutes, and allows sufficient preparation time.
|Statutory Deadlines for Preparing 2025 City/Town Budgets
|Pre-Budget Items (Spring/Summer 2024)
Adopt/update financial policies;
Public hearings for capital facility plan updates;
Public forums or community outreach (ex: community priorities);
Mayor/manager communicates budget objectives to staff
|Budget request to all department heads
|Department heads prepare estimates of revenues and expenditures;
Clerk prepares estimates for debt service and all other estimates
|Budget estimates from department heads filed with clerk
|Implicit price deflator calculated (only applies to cities of 10,000+ population)
|Clerk provides estimates filed by department heads to mayor/manager showing complete financial program
|Mayor/manager provides council with estimates of revenues from all sources, including estimates prepared by clerk, for consideration of setting property tax levy
|Mid-October to mid-November (approx.)
|Public hearing on revenue sources including possible increases in property tax
|Mayor/manager prepares preliminary budget and budget message; files with clerk and council
|Nov. 1-18 (approx.)
|Publication notice of preliminary budget and final hearing
|Nov. 1-25 (approx.)
|Public hearing(s) on preliminary budget
|Copies of budget available to public
|Property tax levies set by ordinance and filed with county
|Final budget hearing
|Budget adoption deadline
Below are selected examples of budget preparation calendars adopted by cities or towns that go beyond the minimum statutory requirements. The exact dates and statutory deadlines listed in each document may vary slightly from year to year due to normal calendar fluctuations.
Annual Budget Preparation Calendars
- Lynden 2023 Budget Calendar – Begins with review of six-year capital plan in spring.
- Ridgefield 2023 Budget Calendar – Includes useful pre-budget steps such as reviewing financial policies and updating indirect cost allocation plan.
Biennial Budget Preparation Calendars
- Federal Way 2021-2022 Mid-Biennium Budget Adjustment Calendar – Includes committee discussion, public hearing, and property tax rate setting for biennial budget adjustment.
- Kennewick 2023-2024 Budget Calendar – Initial biennial budget; includes helpful notes indicating which steps have required statutory deadlines.
- Kent 2023-2024 Budget Calendar – Calendar for preparing initial 2023-24 biennial budget. Includes one-page narrative overview followed by flowchart, Gantt chart timeline, and calendar listing dates.
- Leavenworth 2023-2024 Budget Calendar – Includes initial 2023-24 budget as well as mid-biennium adjustment. Also includes annual budget calendar for park & recreation service area..
- Lynnwood Resolution Nos. 2018-02 and 2019-02 (2018-2019) – Two separate resolutions: one establishing initial biennial budget calendar beginning with council retreat at beginning of year, and the other establishing a mid-biennium adjustment calendar.