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MRSC Insight Blog

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Taking Action Using Ordinances, Resolutions, Motions, and Proclamations

A governing body has several options it can use to take action on an issue. Knowing which type of action to employ and under what circumstance helps to make the process more efficient and effective.

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SBITAs: New Reporting Requirement for the 2023 Annual Financial Report

SBITAs: New Reporting Requirement for the 2023 Annual Financial Report

SBITAs, or subscription-based IT arrangements, are one of the new reporting requirements public agencies must consider when filling the 2023 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. Agencies should review all IT-related contracts to determine which qualify as a reportable SBITA. 

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Emojis in Public Agency Communication: Miscommunications and Records Ramifications 😱

Emojis may make it easy to respond quickly to professional correspondence, but public agency staff and elected officials should think twice before giving a thumbs up to that email or Teams post.

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Oskar Rey seated at computer desk in MRSC's offices

Legal Consultant Oskar Rey Moves On: “Thank You for an Amazing Learning Experience.”

In his final days working as a legal consultant with MRSC, Oskar Rey gives thanks to the many people that helped him gain a deeper knowledge of municipal law, through debate, research, writing, and training. 

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Building Trust During Polarizing Times

Distrust, misinformation, and polarization seem to be growing at the national and local levels. How can local government build trust to help dispel misinformation, reduce polarization, increase engagement, and maintain a healthy, engaged democracy?

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Is Your Community Age Friendly?

What can planners do to make their communities more welcoming for residents as they age? Research shows that investments in transportation infrastructure, compact, mixed-use land use patterns that support walkability, and diverse housing options can help people age in place.

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Residency Requirements for Local Government Officials and Appointees

Must an elected official, advisory (e.g., volunteer) board member, or city or county administrator reside in the jurisdiction they serve or work for? The answer to this question depends on the position, and in some cases, local policies. 

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Using Surplus Public Property to Create New Affordable Housing

Does your agency own surplus property? RCW 39.33.015 allows public agencies to transfer, lease, or dispose of surplus real property to a public, private, or nongovernmental entity at low or no cost if it is for public benefit — and 'public benefit' includes affordable housing.

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Best Practices When Contracting With Faith-Based Organizations

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, local agencies may want to review their contracting policies with respect to faith-based organizations. But, in the words of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t Panic!”

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Whatcom County Boosts Engagement Efforts to Build a More Equitable Advisory Board

In order to contribute to building the health and well-being of young children and their families, Whatcom County developed a diverse, community-driven Child and Family Well-Being Task Force through innovative policies and increased community engagement. 

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Hiring Staff: Roles of Mayor/Manager Versus the City/Town Council

When hiring staff in cities or towns, what role does the council play? What role does the mayor (or manager) play? To make the best hiring decisions, the legislative and executive branches should work cooperatively and limit activities to their respective statutory roles.

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Knowing Your Roles: City and Town Governments

Conflicts in city and town governments between the executive and the legislative branches can be the result of confusion as to these roles and their responsibilities. In such cases, the parties should revisit how power is divided between these two branches.

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To Support Employee Mental Health, Local Governments Think Creatively

Local governments are using out-of-the-box thinking to help employees feel safe, supported, and secure at work, but also to ensure that that their work is meaningful and thier efforts are recognized. 

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Vacancies in Local Elected Office: Understanding the New Rules for Special Purpose Districts

Adopted by the legislature in 2023, SSB 5437 created new requirements for certain special purpose districts that need to appoint a candidate to fill a vacant position on their governing body. 

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Small Works Rosters Are Changing: Are You Ready?

Thanks to legislation in 2023, changes are coming to small works contracting requirements for state agencies and local government entities, and these agencies/entities only have until July 1 of this year to prepare.

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Financing Tools for Downtown Revitalization

Whether it's tax-increment financing, a sales tax credit, participation in the statewide Main Street Program, incentives like the multi-family tax exemption, or state-based grants, cities have several fiscal mechanisms for encouraging downtown development. 

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Salary Increases Coming in 2024 for Many Special Purpose District Officials

Every five years elected commissioners, board members, supervisors, and directors of special purpose districts receive increases in compensation as established by the Washington State Office of Financial Management. The next increases take effect January 1, 2024.

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Recapping the November 2023 Local Ballot Measure Results

There were a 113 ballot measures before voters this past November, in an off-year election that drew record-low voter turnouts. How did that impact levy lid lifts requests, newly proposed districts, or citizen's initiatives? 

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New Law Doubles Limits for Municipal Officers’ Beneficial Interest in Contracts with Their Agency

A 2023 bill made changes to the state's Code of Ethics for Municipal Officers, doubling the size of allowed contracts for elected officials with certain public agencies while also reducing the population limits for towns and cities from 10,000 to under 5,000.

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A backhoe shovels snow from in front of a government building into a dump truck

The Role of Cities and Counties in Keeping Winter Walking (and Driving) Safe

When winter approaches, a local government should encourage property owners to maintain sidewalks and keep them safe for pedestrians while also ensuring that it has a well-thought-out plan for keeping municipal roadways safe and navigable.

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