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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 for noncharter code cities, RCW 35.23.270 for second class cities, and RCW 35.27.280 for 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.

Examples of Rules of Procedure

Code Cities

First Class Cities

Second Class Cities


Recommended Resources

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:

Last Modified: April 04, 2024