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Step 1 - Getting Started:

A group of citizens organizes, recruits supporters and begins to survey the community to determine whether there is general community interest in incorporation.

(Time Period: Open)

Step 2 - Defining the Task:

The citizens' group - working with a King County Staff Technical Review Group -- will commission a Governance Options Study. This Study includes data collection and analysis of information needed to determine the level of community interest in incorporation. The Study also determines whether incorporation is feasible. For example, the study examines demographics, community affiliation, service delivery levels and preferences, estimated revenues and operating expenses, etc. The Study is conducted by an independent consultant. King County may fund this Study.

(Time Period: 3-6 months)

Step 3 - Selecting the Preliminary Boundaries:

If the Study indicates that there is a substantial interest in incorporation and that incorporation is feasible, then the Committee sets the preliminary boundaries for the incorporation area.

(Time Period: Open)

Step 4a - Notice of Proposed Incorporation:
The Committee submits a preliminary Notice of Proposed Incorporation to the County Clerk, accompanied by a $100.00 filing fee. This Notice includes:
  • proposed boundaries and area,
  • population estimates
  • information concerning the number of registered voters in proposed incorporation area (and number of petition signatures that will be required);
  • style of organization of government -- code or charter (RCW 35.A) - most King County cities are code cities.
  • name of proposed city

(Time Period: Open)

Step 4b - Processing the Notice of Incorporation:

The County Clerk processes the Notice of Proposed Incorporation and transmits it to the Boundary Review Board. (Time Period - Immediately)

Step 5 - Public Information Meeting:

The Boundary Review Board sets up a Public Information Meeting - and provides public notice of this meeting.

At the Public Information Meeting, the Committee reports on the proposed incorporation. Service providers (e.g., fire district, police, schools) and representatives of surrounding cities (e.g., administrators, public works, public health) may be invited to respond to questions related to the incorporation - such as costs of providing service, benefits of various types of governance systems.

Citizens are invited to comment on the proposed incorporation. For example, citizens may comment in support of or opposition to boundaries; new boundaries may be suggested.

Step 6 - Refining the Boundaries and Initiating Petitions:

Following the public meeting, if the Committee wishes to go forward with the incorporation efforts, then the Committee selects the incorporation area boundaries. The King County Council Clerk will assign an Identification Number to the incorporation proposal petitions.

(Time Period - Immediately.)

The King County Office of Records and Elections will assist in setting requirements for the incorporation petition (e.g. number of signators, deadlines, etc). The Committee must administer petitions as set by State law (RCW 35.01 - Classification of Municipal Incorporation and RCW 35.02 - Incorporation Proceedings).

(Time Period - Immediately.)

The Committee may then circulate the petitions. The petitions call for a future election to allow community members to decide if incorporation should occur. The petitions to conduct an election must be signed by ten percent of the registered voters living within the area to be incorporated.

(Time Period - 180 days per State law.)

Step 7 - Notice of Intention to Incorporate:

Within 180 days from the date of the Public Information Meeting the Committee must collect the necessary signatures and submit the petitions to the Boundary Review Board with a Notice of Intention to Incorporate (NOI). The NOI should ideally include:

  • Basic information describing the reasons for incorporation
  • Copies of petitions,
  • Legal descriptions and maps
  • Demographic information
  • Land Use Information
  • Service Information & Analysis (e.g., water, sewer, stormwater, roads, police, fire, schools, parks, libraries)
  • Narrative describing how the incorporation is consistent with:
    • Boundary Review Board criteria (RCW 36.93.180)
    • King County Countywide Plan
    • Growth Management Act
    • Government Planning information (City Manager-Council, etc.)

(Time Period: Immediately upon completing petitions)

Step 8a - Verification of Petitions:

The Boundary Review Board submits petitions to the King County Office of Records and Elections and the King County Assessor for verification of their validity.

(Time Period - 30 days for validation and five additional days to notify Committee of outcome.)

Step 8b - Boundary Review Board Assessment:

The Boundary Review Board circulates the NOI (and staff analysis of that document) to appropriate King County offices for an initial review and comment period.

The materials are also circulated to other affected governments and agencies - such as surrounding municipalities, water and sewer providers - for initial comment.

(Time Period - The State establishes a maximum 120 day review period for Boundary Review Board actions in response to the NOI, however, that review period is not sufficient for incorporations, which generally require several months for required studies, analysis and public review processes. The applicant is asked to waive the 120-day review provision).

Step 9 - Economic and Fiscal Analysis Study:

An Economic and Fiscal Analysis Study is commissioned to determine the financial viability of the proposed new city. The citizen's group first obtains funding for the study - from the county or from the community. A Committee of the Boundary Review Board, with input from the citizen's group then begins the process of selecting a consultant to provide the analysis

Once a funding source is established, the Boundary Review Board Committee will select an independent consultant to prepare the study. The study typically looks at demographics, and provides several scenarios with respect to community service needs (operating budgets and capital improvements), resources and costs. The study provides conclusions as to the potential viability of an incorporation under the various scenarios. The cost of the study is generally several thousand dollars.

(Time Period - From contract to completion of study 4-6 months or longer if study area issues are complex.)

Step 10: Public Review of Economic and Fiscal Analysis Study:

The Study is circulated to affected agencies and parties for review and written comment.

(Time Period - 30-45 days)

Step 11 - Boundary Review Board Public Hearing:

Under RCW 35 and RCW 36, a public hearing is generally required for an incorporation. In King County, all incorporations go to a public hearing. The Boundary Review Board conducts the public hearing. Published and posted notices for a public hearing are provided by the Board.

(Time Period - 30 days minimum, as notification must occur at least 30 days in advance of the hearing.)

At the public hearing, the Board takes testimony from all interested parties - the Incorporation Committee, the consultant, citizens who will be affected by the incorporation, King County staff members, and service providers.

The Board considers whether the incorporation is consistent with:

  • Boundary Review Board criteria (RCW 36.93.180)
  • King County Countywide Plan
  • Growth Management Act.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board makes a recommendation on the incorporation.

(Time Period - Board recommendation or action occurs within 40 days following the public hearing.)

(Note: For cities proposed to have a population greater than 7500 people, the Board may recommend in favor of the incorporation, against the incorporation or may recommend changing the incorporation boundaries. The formal boundaries are established by the Committee and the decision is provided by the electorate.

For cities proposed to have fewer than 7500 citizens, the Board can actually act - rather than simply recommend -to support or deny the incorporation - election is optional in this situation.)

Step 12 - Incorporation Election:

Following the Board recommendation, the Committee decides whether to continue with the incorporation process. If so, then an election must be held. The election may be held even if the Board recommended against the incorporation.

If the Committee decides to go forward with the election, the Committee works with King County Records and Elections, to prepare the ballot language and to place the issue on a ballot for election by registered voters in the incorporation area.

A majority of "yes" votes is required for approval.

(Time Period - Elections must be held no less than 60 days following the Boundary Review Board action.)

Step 13 - Election of City Officials:

If incorporation is approved, then elections are held to nominate city officials and select city officials. State (RCW 35/35A) sets the time frame for the elections.

(Time Period - Primary elections must be held no less than 60 days following the election for incorporation. Final elections must be held at least 60 days following primary election).

Step 14 - A City is Born:

The City begins operations - setting up departments, selecting staff members, adopting interim operating regulations, defining immediate, short term and long term policies, objectives and actions, developing and implementing preliminary budgets, etc..

(Time Period: City must begin operating within 360 days of voter approval of the initial incorporation.)