Article 2 — The Legislative Branch

Section 2.10 Description

The legislative body shall be the county council.

Section 2.20 Powers

All powers of the county, not reserved by the people or vested in specific offices by this charter, shall be vested in the county council. The county council shall exercise its legislative power by adoption and enactment of ordinances, resolutions and motions. It shall have the power:

1. To levy taxes, appropriate revenue and adopt budgets for the county;

2. To establish the compensation to be paid to all county officials and employees and to provide for the reimbursement of expenses, except as provided in Section 6.120;

3. Except as otherwise provided for herein, to establish by ordinance executive departments and to establish their powers and responsibilities;

4. To adopt by ordinance zoning regulations and other land use and development regulations, including improvement plans for the present and future development of the county;

5. To employ legal counsel as allowed by the laws of the state of Washington;

6. To confirm or reject without cause nominations of members of all county boards and commissions, provided, the county council shall have concurrent authority with the county executive to nominate members of the Snohomish county planning commission;

7. To approve contracts or establish by ordinance methods by which any type of contract shall be approved;

8. To set collective bargaining guidelines to be followed by the county executive and to approve any and all collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the county executive.

The enumeration of particular powers shall not be construed as limiting the powers of the county council.

(Amended during General Election, Nov. 5, 1996, Eff date Nov. 30, 1996; Amended during General Election, Nov. 7, 2006, Eff date Jan. 1, 2007).

Section 2.30 Composition

The county council shall consist of five members nominated and elected from districts. Councilmembers shall be residents and registered voters of the district they represent at the time of filing for election to said office and at all times during their terms. Any change in the boundaries of a councilmember’s district which shall cause the councilmember to be no longer a resident shall not disqualify the councilmember from holding office during the remainder of the term for which the councilmember was elected or appointed.

(Amended during General Election, Nov. 8, 2016, Eff date Dec. 9, 2016).

Section 2.40 Term of Office

The term of office of each councilmember shall be four years following election and until a successor is elected and qualified.

Section 2.50 Organization

The county council shall annually elect one of its members as chair and one as vice-chair who shall act in the absence of the chair. The council shall be responsible for its own organization, the rules of conduct of its business and for the employment and supervision of such persons as it deems necessary to assist it in the performance of its duties. A majority of the council shall constitute a quorum at all meetings. Council action shall require at least a majority of the entire council except as provided by this charter or ordinance.

Section 2.60 Rules of Procedure

The county council shall enact by ordinance rules of procedure governing the time, place and conduct of its meetings and hearings, which shall include at least one evening meeting in each council district each calendar year, and the introduction, publication, consideration and adoption of ordinances. The rules of procedure shall provide for public access to agendas, minutes and voting records of individual county council members. The rules of procedure shall also provide for an opportunity for public comment during any meeting of the county council. All meetings shall be open to the public except to the extent executive sessions are authorized by state law. Unless the council finds that an emergency exists, a public hearing must be held in the evening on the proposed budget presented by the county executive pursuant to Section 6.50 and on any proposed ordinance to adopt, amend, or repeal a county comprehensive plan.

(Amended during General Election, Nov. 7, 2006, Eff date Jan. 1, 2007; Amended during General Election, Nov. 8, 2016, Eff date Dec. 9, 2016).

Section 2.70 Relationship with Other Branches

Except in the performance of its legislative functions under this charter, the county council, its staff, and individual council members shall not interfere in the administration of the executive branch or give orders to or direct, either publicly or privately, any officer or employee subject to the direction and supervision of the county executive or other elected officials. The county executive and county council jointly shall hold biennial public hearings and provide a county operation review forum for public comment on the operation of each county department.

Section 2.80 Council Subpoena Powers

The county council may, in connection with the legislative process, make investigations into the affairs of the county and the conduct of any county department, office or agency and for this purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence, and may invoke the aid of any court of competent jurisdiction to carry out such powers; provided that any witness shall have the right to be represented by counsel.

Section 2.90 Audit

The county council may conduct or cause to be conducted audits of the financial operations of the county government or any portion thereof. The county council may conduct or cause to be conducted periodic performance and program audits to review the effectiveness and efficiency of the programs and operations of the county. Annual audits shall continue to be performed by the state in accordance with general law.

(Amended during General Election, Nov. 5, 1996, Eff date Nov. 30, 1996).

Section 2.100 Ordinances — Form

No ordinance shall contain more than one subject which shall be clearly expressed in the title. Ordinances may, by reference, adopt Washington state statutes, or any recognized, printed codes or compilations in whole or in part. All ordinances of the county of a general and permanent nature shall be incorporated into and become part of a Snohomish County Code. The county council shall establish by ordinance procedures to codify ordinances and to correct deficiencies and conflicts and to remove obsolete provisions from the code. Proposals for enactment of technical revisions to the code shall be submitted to the county council.

Section 2.110 Ordinances — Enactment

Proposed ordinances may be introduced by any councilmember, mini-initiative or initiative. Every proposed ordinance shall be introduced in its entirety in writing. At least thirteen days shall pass between the introduction and the final passage of every ordinance, except emergency ordinances. Brief summaries of proposed ordinances providing reasonable notice as to the nature of the action contemplated shall be published before consideration. The council shall hold at least one public hearing after due notice to consider the proposed ordinance. Any proposed ordinance may be amended by motion at hearing without publication, provided, that such amendments shall not change the scope and object of the proposed ordinance. No proposed ordinance shall become a law unless on its final passage the vote be taken by roll call by yeas and nays. Ordinances, or summaries of them, shall be published after enactment. Except for emergency ordinances, a minimum of three affirmative votes shall be required to adopt an ordinance.

Every ordinance shall be presented to the county executive within five working days after adoption by the county council. Within ten working days after presentation, the county executive shall either sign the ordinance and return it or veto the ordinance and return it to the county council with the executive’s written objections. If an ordinance is not returned to the county council within ten working days after its presentation, it shall be deemed enacted without the county executive’s signature. If the county executive vetoes an ordinance, the county council shall have thirty days to reconsider the ordinance. If the ordinance receives at least four affirmative votes it shall become law. Except as otherwise provided by this charter, all ordinances shall take effect ten days after they are signed by the county executive or otherwise enacted, or at a later date if stated in the ordinance.

(Amended during General Election, Nov. 8, 2016, Eff date Dec. 9, 2016).

Section 2.115 Ordinances — Amendment, Repeal

No ordinance shall be amended unless the proposed new ordinance sets forth each amended section at full length. The county council in repealing laws shall include in such proposed ordinance references to the law affected. All ordinances which establish programs requiring funding shall provide for repeal on the date six years following enactment unless re-enacted prior to that date.

Section 2.120 Emergency Ordinances

Any proposed ordinance may be enacted as an emergency ordinance if the county council finds as a fact, and states in the ordinance, that the ordinance is necessary for the immediate preservation of public peace, health or safety or for the support of county government and its existing public institutions. A minimum of four affirmative votes shall be required to enact an emergency ordinance. Emergency ordinances shall not be subject to the veto power of the county executive. All emergency ordinances shall be effective immediately upon passage by the county council.

Section 2.130 Resolutions

The county council may pass resolutions to express its opinion concerning any item of business or matter of administration coming within its powers. Resolutions shall not have the force of law, shall not be subject to veto and the county council, in passing resolutions, need not comply with procedure requirements for the introduction, consideration and passage of ordinances.

Section 2.140 Motions

The county council may pass motions to confirm or reject nominations or appointments, to adopt comprehensive plans, to approve interfund loans, to organize and administer the legislative branch, to perform other administrative acts, to issue rulings in quasi-judicial proceedings except rezone actions, and to request information from any other agency of county government. Motions shall not be subject to veto or the requirements for the introduction, consideration and passage of ordinances.

Section 2.150 Office of County Performance Auditor

The county council shall establish by ordinance within the legislative branch the independent office of county performance auditor for the purpose of reviewing, evaluating and reporting on the integrity of the county’s financial management system, the accuracy of financial record keeping, compliance with applicable laws, policies, guidelines and procedures, and the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and programs. The office shall commence functioning no later than July 1, 2007 and shall have the duties and responsibilities expressed in this section as well as those established by ordinance. The performance auditor shall have appropriate professional credentials, legal authority for1 access to records, adequate funding, and shall use generally accepted accounting/auditing standards. The office of performance auditor shall adhere to government auditing standards in conducting its work and shall be considered independent as defined by those standards.

The performance auditor shall be named through appointment by a majority vote of the county council and shall serve a term of four years unless removed for cause.

(Added during General Election, Nov. 7, 2006, Eff date Jan. 1, 2007).

1Code Reviser Note: The 2006 amendments approved as Proposition 6 substituted the term "or" for the term "for" in the phrase "legal authority for access to records" that appeared in the last sentence of Section 3.130, which was added to the Charter in 1996 and repealed in 2006, and repeated the error in Section 2.150. Section 2.150 has been corrected pursuant to Section 11.80

Section 2.160 Office of Public Advocate

The county council shall establish by ordinance an office of public advocate for the purpose of receiving, investigating., and making recommendations to the council and appropriate county agencies on complaints concerning the operation of county government and to respond to inquiries from the public concerning the operation of county government. The office shall have appropriate legal authority and adequate funding, as determined by the council, and shall use generally accepted standards for similar offices. In addition to other duties prescribed by ordinance, the office shall monitor and report to the council on the nature and disposition of whistleblower, ethics, and human rights complaints filed pursuant to other county ordinances or procedures.