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Let's Talk Winter

Let's Talk Winter

The winter holiday season brings with it much excitement and merriment but also challenges and issues unique to this time of year. In the context of local governments, MRSC has published several articles addressing various winter-themed topics. In this blog post, I will compile these resources and highlight some of the issues jurisdictions routinely face during the winter months.

Tis the Season—Let’s Celebrate!!

Parties, festive light displays, cookie plates, and long holiday weekends at home with family by the fire… What do any of these things have to do with local governments? Read on.

How can local governments celebrate the holidays? 

Can a local government display a Christmas tree? Are holiday parties for staff OK? Read this article to find out. And this blog about summer celebrations goes into greater detail about eating and drinking at public expense.

Oh boy! A gift! 

Did you know that a municipal officer is generally prohibited from accepting gifts of any monetary value in his or her official capacity? Bah humbug, right?? Read this post to find out more about the prohibition.

What's the deal with holidays? 

Who decides what holidays municipal governments must observe? If you shut down operations for Christmas, must employees still be paid? Find out in this blog.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

While some parts of Washington are more predictably snowy this time of year, it seems all corners of the state must deal with inclement weather on occasion. Here’s what to do when that winter weather rolls through.

Dealing with snow and ice on streets and sidewalks

Uh oh. The city is getting reports of lots of slip and falls on city sidewalks after the recent winter storm. Will it be responsible for that broken hip and dislocated shoulder? Read this to get a better understanding.

When weather-related issues cancel a public meeting

A winter storm is forecast for the night before your public meeting and roads are supposed to be treacherous. With a nod to guidance found in the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), this blog post offers an overview on how to cancel this meeting without violating the OPMA—or frustrating your constituents.

Ring in the New Year… and a New Set of Elected Officials.

The new year often brings with it a fresh crop of elected officials to local governments. Here, our authors discuss some of the nuts and bolts of ensuring a smooth transition and making sure newly elected officials can hit the ground running.

Bonds, oaths and taking office

So, a new mayor and some new councilmembers have been elected. Now what? This blog post looks at post-election odds and ends

OPMA and PRA training requirements for government officials

State law requires that elected and other governmental officials receive training on our state’s open government laws within 90 days of taking the oath of office. This article includes a summary of those requirements and where to go to complete the required training.

Guides for newly elected officials

MRSC's Quick Guides for newly elected city or county officials offer an overview of basic governance issues, as well as links to additional resources, including the following digital publications from MRSC:

  • Knowing the Territory – Focusing on basic legal guidelines, this handbook serves as a primer for local officials serving in a city, town, county, or special purpose district.
  • The Mayor & Councilmember Handbook – Produced in partnership with the Association of Washington Cities, this handbook serves as a reference guide for mayors and councilmembers in cities and towns.

Questions? Comments?

Are there other seasonal issues that your jurisdiction routinely faces this time of year? Please let us know in the comments section below or email me. If you have questions about these or other local government issues, please use our Ask MRSC form or call us at (206) 625-1300 or (800) 933-6772.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

Photo of Jill Dvorkin

About Jill Dvorkin

Jill joined MRSC as a legal consultant in June 2016 after working for nine years as a civil deputy prosecuting attorney for Skagit County. At Skagit County, Jill advised the planning department on a wide variety of issues including permit processing and appeals, Growth Management Act (GMA) compliance, code enforcement, SEPA, legislative process, and public records. Jill was born and raised in Fargo, ND, then moved to Bellingham to attend college and experience a new part of the country (and mountains!). She earned a B.A. in Environmental Policy and Planning from Western Washington University and graduated with a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law in 2003.