Chapter 35A.12 RCW



35A.12.010Elective city officersSize of council.
35A.12.020Appointive officersDutiesCompensation.
35A.12.030Eligibility to hold elective office.
35A.12.040ElectionsTerms of elective officersNumbering of council positions.
35A.12.060Vacancy for nonattendance.
35A.12.065Pro tempore appointments.
35A.12.070Compensation of elective officersExpenses.
35A.12.080Oath and bond of officers.
35A.12.090Appointment and removal of officersTerms.
35A.12.100Duties and authority of the mayorVetoTie-breaking vote.
35A.12.110Council meetings.
35A.12.140Adoption of codes by reference.
35A.12.150OrdinancesAuthentication and recording.
35A.12.160Publication of ordinances or summaryPublic notice of hearings and meeting agendas.
35A.12.170Audit and allowance of demands against city.
35A.12.180Optional division of city into wards.
35A.12.190Powers of council.

Elective city officers—Size of council.

The government of any noncharter code city or charter code city electing to adopt the mayor-council plan of government authorized by this chapter shall be vested in an elected mayor and an elected council. The council of a noncharter code city having less than twenty-five hundred inhabitants shall consist of five members; when there are twenty-five hundred or more inhabitants, the council shall consist of seven members. A city with a population of less than twenty-five hundred at the time of reclassification as an optional municipal code city may choose to maintain a seven-member council. The decision concerning the number of councilmembers shall be made by the council and be incorporated as a section of the ordinance adopting for the city the classification of noncharter code city. If the population of a city after having become a code city decreases from twenty-five hundred or more to less than twenty-five hundred, it shall continue to have a seven-member council. If, after a city has become a mayor-council code city, its population increases to twenty-five hundred or more inhabitants, the number of council offices in such city may increase from five to seven members upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the existing council to increase the number of council offices in the city. When the population of a mayor-council code city having five council offices increases to five thousand or more inhabitants, the number of council offices in the city shall increase from five to seven members. In the event of an increase in the number of council offices, the city council shall, by majority vote, pursuant to RCW 35A.12.050, appoint two persons to serve in these offices until the next municipal general election, at which election one person shall be elected for a two-year term and one person shall be elected for a four-year term. The number of inhabitants shall be determined by the most recent official state or federal census or determination by the state office of financial management. A charter adopted under the provisions of this title, incorporating the mayor-council plan of government set forth in this chapter, may provide for an uneven number of councilmembers not exceeding eleven. For the purposes of determining population under this section, cities may include or exclude the population of any state correctional facility located within the city.
A noncharter code city of less than five thousand inhabitants which has elected the mayor-council plan of government and which has seven council offices may establish a five-member council in accordance with the following procedure. At least six months prior to a municipal general election, the city council shall adopt an ordinance providing for reduction in the number of council offices to five. The ordinance shall specify which two council offices, the terms of which expire at the next general election, are to be terminated. The ordinance shall provide for the renumbering of council positions and shall also provide for a two-year extension of the term of office of a retained council office, if necessary, in order to comply with RCW 35A.12.040.
However, a noncharter code city that has retained its old mayor-council plan of government, as provided in RCW 35A.02.130, is subject to the laws applicable to that old plan of government.


Severability1979 ex.s. c 18: See note following RCW 35A.01.070.
Population determinations, office of financial management: Chapter 43.62 RCW.

Appointive officers—Duties—Compensation.

The appointive officers shall be those provided for by charter or ordinance and shall include a city clerk and a chief law enforcement officer. The office of city clerk may be merged with that of a city treasurer, if any, with an appropriate title designated therefor. Provision shall be made for obtaining legal counsel for the city, either by appointment of a city attorney on a full-time or part-time basis, or by any reasonable contractual arrangement for such professional services. The authority, duties and qualifications of all appointive officers shall be prescribed by charter or ordinance, consistent with the provisions of this title, and any amendments thereto, and the compensation of appointive officers shall be prescribed by ordinance: PROVIDED, That the compensation of an appointed municipal judge shall be within applicable statutory limits.


Severability1987 c 3: See note following RCW 3.70.010.

Eligibility to hold elective office.

No person shall be eligible to hold elective office under the mayor-council plan unless the person is a registered voter of the city at the time of filing his or her declaration of candidacy and has been a resident of the city for a period of at least one year next preceding his or her election. Residence and voting within the limits of any territory which has been included in, annexed to, or consolidated with such city is construed to have been residence within the city. A mayor or councilmember shall hold within the city government no other public office or employment except as permitted under the provisions of chapter 42.23 RCW.


Severability1979 ex.s. c 18: See note following RCW 35A.01.070.

Elections—Terms of elective officers—Numbering of council positions.

Officers shall be elected at biennial municipal elections to be conducted as provided in chapter 35A.29 RCW. The mayor and the councilmembers shall be elected for four-year terms of office and until their successors are elected and qualified and assume office in accordance with RCW 29A.60.280. At any first election upon reorganization, councilmembers shall be elected as provided in RCW 35A.02.050. Thereafter the requisite number of councilmembers shall be elected biennially as the terms of their predecessors expire and shall serve for terms of four years. The positions to be filled on the city council shall be designated by consecutive numbers and shall be dealt with as separate offices for all election purposes. Election to positions on the council shall be by majority vote from the city at large, unless provision is made by charter or ordinance for election by wards. The mayor and councilmembers shall qualify by taking an oath or affirmation of office and as may be provided by law, charter, or ordinance.


Severability1979 ex.s. c 18: See note following RCW 35A.01.070.


The office of a mayor or councilmember shall become vacant if the person who is elected or appointed to that position fails to qualify as provided by law, fails to enter upon the duties of that office at the time fixed by law without a justifiable reason, or as provided in RCW 35A.12.060 or 42.12.010. A vacancy in the office of mayor or in the council shall be filled as provided in chapter 42.12 RCW. An incumbent councilmember is eligible to be appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of mayor.

Vacancy for nonattendance.

In addition a council position shall become vacant if the councilmember fails to attend three consecutive regular meetings of the council without being excused by the council.

Pro tempore appointments.

Biennially at the first meeting of a new council, or periodically, the members thereof, by majority vote, may designate one of their number as mayor pro tempore or deputy mayor for such period as the council may specify, to serve in the absence or temporary disability of the mayor; or, in lieu thereof, the council may, as the need may arise, appoint any qualified person to serve as mayor pro tempore in the absence or temporary disability of the mayor. In the event of the extended excused absence or disability of a councilmember, the remaining members by majority vote may appoint a councilmember pro tempore to serve during the absence or disability.

Compensation of elective officers—Expenses.

The salaries of the mayor and the councilmembers shall be fixed by ordinance and may be revised from time to time by ordinance, but any increase in the compensation attaching to an office shall not be applicable to the term then being served by the incumbent if such incumbent is a member of the city legislative body fixing his or her own compensation or as mayor in a mayor-council code city casts a tie-breaking vote relating to such ordinance: PROVIDED, That if the mayor of such a city does not cast such a vote, his or her salary may be increased during his or her term of office.
Until the first elective officers under this mayor-council plan of government may lawfully be paid the compensation provided by such salary ordinance, such officers shall be entitled to be compensated in the same manner and in the same amount as the compensation paid to officers of such city performing comparable services immediately prior to adoption of this mayor-council plan.
Until a salary ordinance can be passed and become effective as to elective officers of a newly incorporated code city, such first officers shall be entitled to compensation as follows: In cities having less than five thousand inhabitants, the mayor shall be entitled to a salary of one hundred and fifty dollars per calendar month and a councilmember shall be entitled to twenty dollars per meeting for not more than two meetings per month; in cities having more than five thousand but less than fifteen thousand inhabitants, the mayor shall be entitled to a salary of three hundred and fifty dollars per calendar month and a councilmember shall be entitled to one hundred and fifty dollars per calendar month; in cities having more than fifteen thousand inhabitants, the mayor shall be entitled to a salary of twelve hundred and fifty dollars per calendar month and a councilmember shall be entitled to four hundred dollars per calendar month: PROVIDED, That such interim compensation shall remain in effect only until a salary ordinance is passed and becomes effective as to such officers, and the amounts herein provided shall not be construed as fixing the usual salary of such officers. The mayor and councilmembers shall receive reimbursement for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of the duties of their office, or the council by ordinance may provide for a per diem allowance. Procedure for approval of claims for expenses shall be as provided by ordinance.


Limitations on salaries: State Constitution Art. 11 § 8.

Oath and bond of officers.

Any officer before entering upon the performance of his or her duties may be required to take an oath or affirmation as prescribed by charter or by ordinance for the faithful performance of his or her duties. The oath or affirmation shall be filed with the county auditor. The clerk, treasurer, if any, chief of police, and such other officers or employees as may be designated by ordinance or by charter shall be required to furnish annually an official bond conditioned on the honest and faithful performance of their official duties. The terms and penalty of official bonds and the surety therefor shall be prescribed by ordinance or charter and the bond shall be approved by the chief administrative officer of the city. The premiums on such bonds shall be paid by the city. When the furnishing of an official bond is required of an officer or employee, compliance with such provisions shall be an essential part of qualification for office.


Severability1986 c 167: See note following RCW 29A.16.040.

Appointment and removal of officers—Terms.

The mayor shall have the power of appointment and removal of all appointive officers and employees subject to any applicable law, rule, or regulation relating to civil service. The head of a department or office of the city government may be authorized by the mayor to appoint and remove subordinates in such department or office, subject to any applicable civil service provisions. All appointments of city officers and employees shall be made on the basis of ability and training or experience of the appointees in the duties they are to perform, from among persons having such qualifications as may be prescribed by ordinance or by charter, and in compliance with provisions of any merit system applicable to such city. Confirmation by the city council of appointments of officers and employees shall be required only when the city charter, or the council by ordinance, provides for confirmation of such appointments. Confirmation of mayoral appointments by the council may be required by the council in any instance where qualifications for the office or position have not been established by ordinance or charter provision. Appointive offices shall be without definite term unless a term is established for such office by law, charter or ordinance.


Severability1987 c 3: See note following RCW 3.70.010.

Duties and authority of the mayor—Veto—Tie-breaking vote.

The mayor shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the city, in charge of all departments and employees, with authority to designate assistants and department heads. The mayor may appoint and remove a chief administrative officer or assistant administrative officer, if so provided by ordinance or charter. He or she shall see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced and that law and order is maintained in the city, and shall have general supervision of the administration of city government and all city interests. All official bonds and bonds of contractors with the city shall be submitted to the mayor or such person as he or she may designate for approval or disapproval. He or she shall see that all contracts and agreements made with the city or for its use and benefit are faithfully kept and performed, and to this end he or she may cause any legal proceedings to be instituted and prosecuted in the name of the city, subject to approval by majority vote of all members of the council. The mayor shall preside over all meetings of the city council, when present, but shall have a vote only in the case of a tie in the votes of the councilmembers with respect to matters other than the passage of any ordinance, grant, or revocation of franchise or license, or any resolution for the payment of money. He or she shall report to the council concerning the affairs of the city and its financial and other needs, and shall make recommendations for council consideration and action. He or she shall prepare and submit to the council a proposed budget, as required by chapter 35A.33 RCW. The mayor shall have the power to veto ordinances passed by the council and submitted to him or her as provided in RCW 35A.12.130 but such veto may be overridden by the vote of a majority of all councilmembers plus one more vote. The mayor shall be the official and ceremonial head of the city and shall represent the city on ceremonial occasions, except that when illness or other duties prevent the mayor's attendance at an official function and no mayor pro tempore has been appointed by the council, a member of the council or some other suitable person may be designated by the mayor to represent the city on such occasion.


Severability1979 ex.s. c 18: See note following RCW 35A.01.070.

Council meetings.

The city council and mayor shall meet regularly, at least once a month, at a place and at such times as may be designated by the city council. All final actions on resolutions and ordinances must take place within the corporate limits of the city. Special meetings may be called by the mayor or any three members of the council by written notice delivered to each member of the council at least twenty-four hours before the time specified for the proposed meeting. All actions that have heretofore been taken at special council meetings held pursuant to this section, but for which the number of hours of notice given has been at variance with requirements of RCW 42.30.080, are hereby validated. All council meetings shall be open to the public except as permitted by chapter 42.30 RCW. No ordinance or resolution shall be passed, or contract let or entered into, or bill for the payment of money allowed at any meeting not open to the public, nor at any public meeting the date of which is not fixed by ordinance, resolution, or rule, unless public notice of such meeting has been given by such notice to each local newspaper of general circulation and to each local radio or television station, as provided in RCW 42.30.080 as now or hereafter amended. Meetings of the council shall be presided over by the mayor, if present, or otherwise by the mayor pro tempore, or deputy mayor if one has been appointed, or by a member of the council selected by a majority of the councilmembers at such meeting. Appointment of a councilmember to preside over the meeting shall not in any way abridge his or her right to vote on matters coming before the council at such meeting. In the absence of the clerk, a deputy clerk or other qualified person appointed by the clerk, the mayor, or the council, may perform the duties of clerk at such meeting. A journal of all proceedings shall be kept, which shall be a public record.


Severability1979 ex.s. c 18: See note following RCW 35A.01.070.


At all meetings of the council a majority of the councilmembers shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, but a less number may adjourn from time to time and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as may be prescribed by ordinance. The council shall determine its own rules and order of business, and may establish rules for the conduct of council meetings and the maintenance of order. At the desire of any member, any question shall be voted upon by roll call and the ayes and nays shall be recorded in the journal.
The passage of any ordinance, grant or revocation of franchise or license, and any resolution for the payment of money shall require the affirmative vote of at least a majority of the whole membership of the council.


The enacting clause of all ordinances shall be as follows: "The city council of the city of . . . . . . do ordain as follows:" No ordinance shall contain more than one subject and that must be clearly expressed in its title.
No ordinance or any section or subsection thereof shall be revised or amended unless the new ordinance sets forth the revised ordinance or the amended section or subsection at full length.
No ordinance shall take effect until five days after the date of its publication unless otherwise provided by statute or charter, except that an ordinance passed by a majority plus one of the whole membership of the council, designated therein as a public emergency ordinance necessary for the protection of public health, public safety, public property or the public peace, may be made effective upon adoption, but such ordinance may not levy taxes, grant, renew, or extend a franchise, or authorize the borrowing of money.
Every ordinance which passes the council in order to become valid must be presented to the mayor; if he or she approves it, he or she shall sign it, but if not, he or she shall return it with his or her written objections to the council and the council shall cause his or her objections to be entered at large upon the journal and proceed to a reconsideration thereof. If upon reconsideration a majority plus one of the whole membership, voting upon a call of ayes and nays, favor its passage, the ordinance shall become valid notwithstanding the mayor's veto. If the mayor fails for ten days to either approve or veto an ordinance, it shall become valid without his or her approval. Ordinances shall be signed by the mayor and attested by the clerk.

Adoption of codes by reference.

Ordinances may by reference adopt Washington state statutes and state, county, or city codes, regulations, or ordinances or any standard code of technical regulations, or portions thereof, including, for illustrative purposes but not limited to, fire codes and codes or ordinances relating to the construction of buildings, the installation of plumbing, the installation of electric wiring, health and sanitation, the slaughtering, processing, and selling of meats and meat products for human consumption, the production, pasteurizing, and sale of milk and milk products, or other subjects, together with amendments thereof or additions thereto, on the subject of the ordinance. Such Washington state statutes or codes or other codes or compilations so adopted need not be published in a newspaper as provided in RCW 35A.12.160, but the adopting ordinance shall be so published and a copy of any such adopted statute, ordinance, or code, or portion thereof, with amendments or additions, if any, in the form in which it was adopted, shall be filed in the office of the city clerk for use and examination by the public. While any such statute, code, or compilation is under consideration by the council prior to adoption, not less than one copy thereof shall be filed in the office of the city clerk for examination by the public.


Effective date1982 c 226: See note following RCW 35.21.180.

Ordinances—Authentication and recording.

The city clerk shall authenticate by his or her signature and record in full in a properly indexed book kept for the purpose all ordinances and resolutions adopted by the council. Such book, or copies of ordinances and resolutions, shall be available for inspection by the public at reasonable times and under reasonable conditions.

Publication of ordinances or summary—Public notice of hearings and meeting agendas.

Promptly after adoption, the text of each ordinance or a summary of the content of each ordinance shall be published at least once in the city's official newspaper.
For purposes of this section, a summary shall mean a brief description which succinctly describes the main points of the ordinance. Publication of the title of an ordinance authorizing the issuance of bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness shall constitute publication of a summary of that ordinance. When the city publishes a summary, the publication shall include a statement that the full text of the ordinance will be mailed upon request.
An inadvertent mistake or omission in publishing the text or a summary of the content of an ordinance shall not render the ordinance invalid.
In addition to the requirement that a city publish the text or a summary of the content of each adopted ordinance, every city shall establish a procedure for notifying the public of upcoming hearings and the preliminary agenda for the forthcoming council meeting. Such procedure may include, but not be limited to, written notification to the city's official newspaper, publication of a notice in the official newspaper, posting of upcoming council meeting agendas, or such other processes as the city determines will satisfy the intent of this requirement.

Audit and allowance of demands against city.

All demands against a code city shall be presented and audited in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by charter or ordinance; and upon the allowance of a demand, the clerk shall draw a warrant upon the treasurer for it, which warrant shall be countersigned by the mayor, or such person as he or she may designate, and shall specify the fund from which it is to be paid; or, payment may be made by a bank check when authorized by the legislative body of the code city under authority granted by RCW 35A.40.020, which check shall bear the signatures of the officers designated by the legislative body as required signatories of checks of such city, and shall specify the fund from which it is to be paid.

Optional division of city into wards.

At any time not within three months previous to a municipal general election the council of a noncharter code city organized under this chapter may divide the city into wards or change the boundaries of existing wards. No change in the boundaries of wards shall affect the term of any councilmember, and councilmembers shall serve out their terms in the wards of their residences at the time of their elections: PROVIDED, That if this results in one ward being represented by more councilmembers than the number to which it is entitled those having the shortest unexpired terms shall be assigned by the council to wards where there is a vacancy, and the councilmembers so assigned shall be deemed to be residents of the wards to which they are assigned for purposes of those positions being vacant. The representation of each ward in the city council shall be in proportion to the population as nearly as is practicable.
Wards shall be redrawn as provided in chapter 29A.76 RCW. Wards shall be used as follows: (1) Only a resident of the ward may be a candidate for, or hold office as, a councilmember of the ward; and (2) only voters of the ward may vote at a primary to nominate candidates for a councilmember of the ward. Voters of the entire city may vote at the general election to elect a councilmember of a ward, unless the city had prior to January 1, 1994, limited the voting in the general election for any or all council positions to only voters residing within the ward associated with the council positions. If a city had so limited the voting in the general election to only voters residing within the ward, then the city shall be authorized to continue to do so.


Powers of council.

The council of any code city organized under the mayor-council plan of government provided in this chapter shall have the powers and authority granted to the legislative bodies of cities governed by this title, as more particularly described in chapter 35A.11 RCW.