Council/Board of Commissioners Rules of Procedure
This page provides an overview and examples of city council and county commission rules of procedure for local governments in Washington State.
Many city councils and county councils/boards of commissioners in Washington have adopted formal rules of procedure to govern the conduct of their meetings. Often the motivation in adopting rules is to increase meeting efficiency and effectiveness and to manage or reduce conflict. The basic idea in adopting rules is to ensure that these meetings will run more smoothly and follow a generally accepted format. A well-organized and well-managed meeting does not necessarily guarantee good results, but it certainly helps.
City councils are authorized by statute or charter to determine their own rules and order of business and to establish formal rules for the conduct of council meetings. (See RCW 35A.12.120: noncharter code cities; RCW 35.23.270: second class cities; and RCW 35.27.280: towns.) Councils in first class cities are generally authorized to adopt rules of procedure by their city charters.
Although there is no statute that specifically authorizes a county council/board of commissioners to adopt rules of procedure for board meetings, that authority is necessarily implied from the council's/board's authority (and requirement) to hold meetings and conduct business. The legislative bodies of charter counties are either specifically authorized to adopt such rules by their charters or that authority exists as part of the county's broad powers.
Sample Rules of Procedure
- Bothell City Council Protocol Manual (2022)
- Chewelah City Council Rules of Procedure (2014)
- Ellensburg City Council Rules of Procedure (2021)
- Ferndale City Council Rules of Procedure and Ethics Handbook (2022)
- Gig Harbor City Council Guidelines and Procedures (2022)
- Issaquah City Council Rules of Procedure (2023)
- Lacey City Council Policy-Procedure Manual (2021)
- Lake Forest Park City Governance Manual (2016)
- Monroe City Council Rules of Procedure (2020)
- Mukilteo City Council Rules of Procedure (2020)
- Poulsbo City Council Rules of Procedure (2020)
- Puyallup City Council Rules of Procedure (2022)
- Sequim City Council Rules of Procedure (2018)
- Shelton City Council Protocol Manual (2019)
- Shoreline City Council Rules of Procedure (2023)
- Spokane Valley Governance Manual (2020)
- Woodland City Council Rules of Procedure (2022)
First Class Cities
- Bellingham Guide to City Council Meetings
- Spokane City Council Rules of Procedure (2022)
- Tacoma City Council Rules of Procedure (2022)
Second Class Cities
- Clallam County Board of Commissioners Operating Guidelines (2019)
- King County Council Rules and Order of Business (2020)
- Pierce County Rules of Procedure for Council (2020)
MRSC has a webpage devoted to Parliamentary Procedure and publishes a number of online resources helpful to understanding Council/Board of Commissioners rules of procedure: