skip navigation
Share this:

Council/Commission Meetings

This page provides a basic overview of public meetings held by local government governing bodies (councils or commissions) in Washington State.

Also see our pages on the Open Public Meetings Act and Public Hearings.


A city council or board of commissioners meeting (whether county or special purpose district) is the place to get the critical job of policy-making done. A smoothly managed and productive council or commission meeting in the right setting does not necessarily guarantee good results, but it certainly helps.

State law spells out some of the requirements for public meetings, primarily through the Open Public Meetings Act. In addition, many cities, counties, and special purpose districts have adopted their own formal rules of procedure to govern the conduct of their meetings.

Legal References


Meeting Agendas

Public agencies with governing bodies must make the agenda of each regular meeting available online at least 24 hours before the published start time of the meeting. This applies to all but the smallest local government agencies (RCW 42.30.077).

However, the statute says that nothing prevents subsequent modifications to the agenda, nor does the failure to properly post the agenda invalidate any otherwise legal action taken at the meeting or provide a basis for awarding attorney fees under RCW 42.30.120 or commencing an action of mandamus or injunction under RCW 42.30.130.

MRSC maintains a separate page on City Council Meeting Agendas. This webpage offers an overview of the agenda preparation process, including sample council rules of procedure relating to agenda preparation and links to sample agendas.

Meeting Minutes

Minutes are the instant written record of a meeting or hearing. RCW 42.30.035 requires the minutes of all regular and special meetings (except executive sessions) to be promptly recorded and open to public inspection.

Minutes are not required to be taken at an executive session, although the announced purpose of the executive session must be entered into the meeting minutes (RCW 42.30.110(2)). If minutes or notes are taken during an executive session, they may be subject to the disclosure requirements of the Public Records Act.

While most local governments are required to post meeting agendas online, there is no similar requirement for meeting minutes. However, many governing bodies post both meeting agendas and minutes online in an effort to be more transparent to the public.

Examples of City Rules of Procedure Relating to Meeting Minutes

Examples of County Rules of Procedure Relating to Meeting Minutes

Examples of City Meeting Minutes

Examples of County Meeting Minutes

Public Meetings - Recommended Resources

The following resources may help a local government in planning for and conducting more efficient and productive public meetings.

Public Hearings - Recommended Resources

Local governments are sometimes required by state law to hold public hearings. The resources below may help in understanding and following proper hearing procedure.

Parliamentary Procedure - Recommended Resources

Parliamentary procedure provides the process for proposing, amending, approving, and defeating legislative motions.

  • MRSC: Parliamentary Procedure — Offers a brief overview of Robert's Rules of Order as applied to parliamentary procedure
  • Jurassic Parliament — Offers resources on using Robert's Rules of Order, meeting management, leadership, and more.

Notice of Firearm Prohibition at Meetings

Local governments must post signs providing notice that it is unlawful to open carry a firearm or other weapon while attending a public meeting of the governing body (RCW 9.41.305).

Recommended Resources

  • Ask MRSC - Governance — Contains archived questions MRSC staff have received with regard to governance, the legislative body, council/commission roles and responsibilities, and related issues
  • Institute for Local Government: Public Meetings Resource Center — Offers a variety of tools addressing how to chair a meeting, parliamentary procedure, public participation, and how to incorporate technology into public meetings.

Last Modified: March 22, 2023