Filling a Vacancy in a City or Town Council

With 281 cities and towns in Washington and with city and town councils typically consisting of five to seven members, there are bound to be vacancies in council positions on a fairly regular basis. Vacancies typically occur due the death, resignation, or loss of residency. If there is a vacancy, a replacement needs to appointed. This post addresses the requirements and process for doing that. Continue reading

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Block Grants Celebrate the “Big 4-0” and Other Updates from HUD

Vancouver Home Repair

Vancouver home repair financed by CDBG funds

I recently received an email update from the Northwest Regional Office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that noted some interesting facts and milestones worthy of further comment. I’m sure many of you receive the same electronic epistle and, like me most of the time, don’t take the time to search through the dense text very far. Continue reading

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Waiving Competitive Bidding Requirements in the Event of an Emergency

In view of the recent Oso landslide and numerous and destructive wildfires in our state, I thought it would be timely to provide a brief review of the rules in state law relating to waiving competitive bidding requirements in emergency situations, when a local government needs to act quickly.  These rules are not new and are not complicated. Continue reading

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Washington Jurisdictions Mostly Cautious on Zoning for Retail Marijuana

cannabis store

Cannabis Store in Denver, courtesy of Jeffrey Beall

With a lot of questions surrounding the best ways to approach recreational marijuana, MRSC has been keeping a close eye on how different jurisdictions are implementing zoning related to this new retail use. We recently compiled our data into an interactive map, so we figured, with retail marijuana officially in full swing, now is a good time to take stock of how our local governments are approaching this issue. Continue reading

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Using Lodging Taxes for Staff Support of LTAC

Lodging taxCan you use lodging tax revenues to pay for staff support of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC)? It’s a good question that we’ve been getting lately. After conferring with the State Auditor’s Office, we’ve concluded that this is an allowed use of the lodging tax, as long as important requirements are met. [For an update to this post, see "UPDATE to - Using Lodging Taxes for Staff Support of LTAC," posted 8/20/2014.] Continue reading

Posted in Finance, Governance, Legal | 2 Comments

Roles of the Mayor/Manager and the City or Town Council 101: Acquiring Legal Services

How do local governments obtain legal services?  With county government, it’s easy, since the prosecuting attorney provides legal services and prosecuting attorneys are elected officials.  When it comes to cities and towns, though, the answer is not that easy. Continue reading

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What’s in Your Water Mains?

An article in the April 2014 AWWA Opflow magazine caught my eye, particularly as the City of Longview is featured. The article is entitled: “The New Ice Age: Pigging Effectively Cleans Water and Wastewater Pipelines.” First of all, what is a “pig”? For eons, it seems, utilities of all sort have been cleaning the insides of their pipelines with rubber and metal tools of varying degrees of sophistication that are sent down a pipeline and propelled by the pressure of the product flow in the pipeline itself. According to Wikipedia, originally pigs were made from straw wrapped in wire. They made a squealing noise while traveling through the pipe, sounding to some like a pig squealing, which gave pigs their name. Continue reading

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