County Budget Calendars
This calendar shows the statutory deadlines for counties in Washington State to prepare a budget for the coming year, along with examples of budget planning calendars adopted by counties that go beyond the minimum statutory requirements.
It is part of MRSC's series on Budgeting in Washington State.
For counties that prepare an annual budget, the statutory requirements are found in chapter 36.40 RCW and outlined below.
Counties that have adopted a biennial (two-year) budget have the same statutory requirements and deadlines (RCW 36.40.250) as those required in the annual adoption process, plus the addition of a budget review and adjustment midway through the biennium. Unlike cities, a county fiscal biennium may begin on January 1 of any calendar year.
For more information on biennial budgets generally, see our page Biennial Budgeting.
Below is an overview of the budgeting process and statutory deadlines. Most of 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, and the board of commissioners may set alternative dates for the budget process to conform to the alternative preliminary budget hearing date in December (RCW 36.40.071). Many counties have adopted alternative dates.
For a detailed explanation of the budget requirements, as well as some helpful practice tips, see our page County Budget Procedures.
For examples of budget calendars adopted by counties that differ from the statutory deadlines, see the examples section below. We recommend that each county develop a timeline that best meets its needs, ensures compliance with the statutes, and allows sufficient preparation time.
|Statutory Deadlines for Preparing 2024 County Budgets|
|Pre-Budget Items (Spring 2023)||Strategic planning sessions to develop goals and priorities;
Adopt/update financial policies;
Public hearings for capital facility plan updates (fully planning GMA counties);
Capital improvement plan updates (partially planning GMA counties);
Communicate budget objectives to county departments and elected offices
|July 10*||County auditor of chief financial officer (CFO) notifies all officials of the request for budget|
|Aug. 14*||Budget estimates from all officials filed with auditor/CFO;
Deadline for auditor/CFO to prepare estimates for debt service and all other estimates not called for in the notification to officials
|Sept. 5*||Preliminary county budget prepared by auditor or CFO is submitted to commissioners|
|Sept. 18*||Notice of public hearing on budget and property tax levies;
Copies of budget available to public
|Sept. 25||Implicit price deflator calculated (only applies to counties of 10,000+ population)|
|Oct. 2*||Final budget hearing by board of commissioners|
|Dec. 4||Alternate final budget hearing date;
Deadline to certify to assessor next year's property taxes levied on behalf of other taxing districts (such as fire districts)
|Dec. 15||Deadline to certify to assessor next year's property tax levies for county purposes|
|Dec. 31||Budget adoption deadline|
|* Asterisk indicates date may be altered if using alternate budget calendar (RCW 36.40.071)|
Below are selected examples of budget preparation calendars adopted by counties. The exact dates and statutory deadlines listed may vary slightly from year to year due to normal calendar fluctuations. Many counties have adopted alternate dates under RCW 36.40.071.
Annual Budget Preparation Calendars
- Clallam County 2020 Budget Preparation Calendar – Culminates with alternate budget hearing and adoption dates in December
- Kittitas County Resolution No. 2020-129 (2020) – Setting alternate budget dates under RCW 36.40.071, culminating with final budget hearing in December
Biennial Budget Preparation Calendars
- Cowlitz County 2018-2019 Budget Calendar – Initial biennial budget, culminating with the alternate budget hearing and adoption dates in December; does not include mid-biennium budget adjustment.