WSAC/WACO Joint Conference Save the Date
58th Annual Washington Association of County Officials Conference 2016

Thank you for attending our 58th annual conference. This year we had more registered members and guests than anytime in the last half-decade. Additionally, we had the highest number of vendors and sponsors supporting our work ever.
If you were unable to attend, or want to review any of the program materials – please feel free to visit our webpage at: for a list of 2016 resources.

Tammie Ownbey

Greetings from Tammie Ownbey, President

I am certain that by now most of us have already heard numerous times that this legislative session is going to be very difficult and potentially very long. There is no real way to sugarcoat it, our counties face a number of hurdles as the legislature tackles the next biennium while dealing with funding McCleary. That is why it is of vital importance that we remain focused on both our priority legislation, as well as defending our counties from any bill that may adversely affect the services we provide to our counties.
This year I am happy to share with you that WACO Vice-President, Ilene Thomson is the Legislative Committee Chair. Ilene has been working with WACO staff to establish detailed bill reports, clear lines of communication, and ensuring that we are going into the 2017 session with a strong footing.
If you have ANY questions about legislation, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your affiliate’s legislative chair, they are working on the front lines with WACO staff on a daily basis – and I thank them.
The Legislative Committee, and WACO staff, are facing what can potentially be a very difficult session filled with long hours. I want to take this opportunity to thank Ilene, WACO staff, and your Legislative Committee: James Nagle, Josie Delvin, Charles Ross, Tim Fitzgerald, Greg Sandstrom, Terry McLaughlin, Tim Davidson, Mary Hall, Arny Davis, and John Snaza.
WACO is focused on ensuring that information provided to our members is transparent and abundant. Each week your legislative chairs will be receiving detailed bill reports to share with you. Additionally, WACO Executive Director Scott Blonien will be providing a weekly report to all members on the current status of WACO’s legislative priorities. To help provide you with information about our priority legislation, as well as resources pertaining to the bills, we have launched a Legislative Advocacy page on our website. On the page you will find information on each priority bill, links to the bills themselves, as well as links to resources and other matters of interest.
Finally, I would like to make a personal plea for your potential participation. During session we are hosting four joint WACO/WSAC legislative receptions at the Water Street Café in Olympia. Please put these receptions on your calendars and give your local legislators a call to invite them to join us. Your attendance is strongly encouraged; our greatest strength is our membership.
They are:
January 18, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
February 15, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
March 15, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
April 5, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café

Scott Blonien
The Secret to a Successful Legislative Session

WACO has an excellent legislative advocacy team working your priority bills during the 2017 session. Monty, Mike, Brynn and Timothy are experienced, knowledgeable, hard working, aggressive and well placed; but they can’t be totally successful without your support.  Here are several ways that you can help ‘work’ our legislative package.
Reach Out to Your Legislators
Many of you have strong relationships with your local legislators. That relationship is the straightest route to success. You are the most effective communicators of your message about legislative priorities. It would be helpful if you called or sent an e-message to your local legislators. Let them know that you are more than willing to speak to any bill that concerns the operation of your office. You are the experts, and the most reliable source of accurate information. Let them know that you are willing to help them make a well-informed decision.
Make Sure the Legislators Know for Whom You Speak
The position of individual county officers is not always in lock step with WACO and the relevant affiliate. Please make it clear whether you are speaking on your own accord or on behalf of WACO or the relevant affiliate.
Be Conversant with Your Affiliate's and WACO's Legislative Priorities
Every day we hear from legislators that they won’t take a position on a bill until they speak to their county officer(s). More likely than not they’ll call without notice and ask for your input. We’ll prepare talking points on all of our priority legislation, and get them to you. Keep those handy to brief the legislator of what the bill does and why it’s necessary. Please let them know that WACO is willing and able to provide greater detail and information about any priority bill. 
Please, Keep Us in the Loop
If you learn that one of your local legislators is in support of or opposed to one of our priority bills it is extremely helpful if you could share that information with us. This gives us the opportunity to contact them and ask for their support in committee or on the floor. It allows us to determine the basis for their opposition and possibly address it.
Be Active, Be Present
During session we will need you to testify on your priority bills. It is very difficult for most of you to travel to Olympia to offer 5-15 minutes of testimony. But although our advocacy team has credibility with the legislators YOU are the best witnesses. Your presence sends the message that your priority bill is important to you and the other members of your affiliate.  Again this year WACO is cosponsoring monthly legislative receptions at the Water Street Café in Olympia. They start at 5:00 on Wednesday, January 18, Wednesday, February 15, Wednesday, March 15 and Wednesday, April 5.

Your presence alone sends a very powerful message to the legislators, staffers and county commissioners in attendance.  If you are going to be able to attend, it’s very helpful for you to give you local legislators a call and extend a personal invitation to meet you there.
This session is going to be very challenging but with your help and support together we can assure that it is a successful one.

WACO Board of Trustees Adopts 2017-2019 Strategic Plan

During its December 14, 2016 meeting, the WACO Board of Trustees approved a Strategic Plan for 2017-2019. This new Strategic Plan will replace the 2014-2016 Strategic Plan adopted in December of 2013. The new Strategic Plan clarifies some language from the previous plan, removes items that were completed during 2014-2016, and gives WACO guidance moving forward through 2019. In March 2017, the Board of Trustees will meet, discuss, and possibly approve work plans tied to the Strategic Plan. We are very proud of our accomplishments over the past number of years – and look forward to further service growth and enhancements in the coming years. You can find the PDF file of the Strategic Plan here:

Fiscal Sustainability Article

The following Crosscut article details some of the struggles and impacts the property tax cap or limit factor has caused in local communities around the state. The article discusses a proposed change of the statutory limit factor (currently 1% annually) to a limit based on inflation and population growth, not to exceed 5%. The proposed increase would not be automatic and would still require local approval like the current practice.


WACO's New Legislative Consultant: Brynn Brady

Beginning December 15, WACO began contracting additional lobbying services with Brynn Brady. Brynn came highly recommended to us.
Prior to working as a contractor, Brynn spent five years in the Pierce County Government Relations office as a Government Relations Coordinator, as well as its Interim Director from July 2012-November 2012. Prior to working the Government Relations office, Brynn served as the Long Range Senior Planner for the Pierce County Planning and Land Services.
Brynn brings a strong understanding of county government, as well as proven success on the hill. She will be providing an additional strong voice for advocacy during the 2017 session.

Legislative Receptions

During session we are joining WSAC for 4 legislative receptions at the Water Street Café in Olympia. Please put these receptions on your calendars and give your local legislators a call to invite them to join us.

They are:

  • January 18, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
  • February 15, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
  • March 15, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Café
  • April 5, 6:00-8:00 PM, Water Street Cafe

Website Changes

There have been a number of updates to the website since our Annual Conference. President Tammie Ownbey and Communications Director, Timothy Grisham worked on some navigation improvements based on feedback provided by members and the WACO Board at their annual retreat.
First we replaced the CivicPlus module for minutes and agendas, as feedback from many members indicated that it was clunky and hard to find what you are looking for. While doing this, we also merged our “Current Meetings” and “Past Meetings” pages into one single page. This page can be found by both the “our meetings” button on any page, as well as under the “Our Work” drop down on the top navigation. Additionally, if you click on “Our Work” you will see a “Meetings” link on the left side navigation. So there is now three ways to find the page within a click.
On the “Meetings” page we created a simple table with available meeting materials and past meeting minutes.
Under each navigation header “About WACO”, “Our Work”, “Resources” and “Affiliates” we made them clickable, as well as created a drop down item that highlights each sections main page. This will make it easier to find content in multiple manners.
We added a “Legislative Advocacy” page, as well as a navigation icon for the page. On the “Legislative Advocacy” page you will find information about our WACO Priority bills, FSI, and more. This page will be updated throughout the year – so it is not a one-time use page.
WACO is currently in the process of re-publishing the Washington County Government book; and affiliate Presidents have been involved in that work. To coincide with this, we have created a corresponding webpage on the site, which will house the information and associated resources.

The website is continuously updated, if you see an area for suggested improvement or additional content, please contact WACO staff at

Add to the Conversation!

We welcome your contributions and updates for the Courthouse Journal. Please share with us articles, and updates -  examples may be awards, accomplishments, recognition, extraordinary service to the public and office innovations.

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School Finance Webinar

We have posted the November 30, 2017 Webinar featuring Rick Peterson from the Office of the State Treasurer speaking on the McCleary case, and funding going into the 2017 biennium on the WACO website. We, would also like to take this opportunity to share it with you in the Courthouse Journal. Please note by clicking on the image you will be taken to an outside website (Gotowebinar) and asked to sign in. The presentation begins at the 3:30 mark

The Elway Poll

The January Elway Poll is available now (PDF link). The poll looked at reactions to the Presidential election from over 500 users. The Elway Poll is the only state poll sustained entirely by subscribers.

Jury Duty PSA

Jury Duty PSA

The Washington Pattern Jury Instruction (WPI) Committee partnered with the BJA Public Trust and Confidence Committee to produce a 30-second public service announcement (PSA) on the importance of jury service. Funding for this project was provided by the WPI Committee (as approved by the Supreme Court). The PSA was produced by TVW. Visit the PSA at:

Introducing Two New Interim County Treasurers

The Benton County Board of Commissioners have appointed Kristen Yniguez as interim County Treasurer.

The Thurston County Board of Commissioners have appointed Steve Larson as interim County Treasurer.

Kittitas County Assessor Marsha Weyand
Kittitas County Assessor Marsha Weyand to Retire After 37 Years of Service

(Article courtesy of the Daily Record)

Kittitas County Assessor Marsha Weyand will close out of her final spreadsheet in February after 37 years of service.

Weyand will retire Feb. 28 after working for the county since 1980. Over the years, she has worked as a data processor, a data segregation deputy, a sales analyst and an administrative assistant for the Assessor’s Office. In 2006 she won election as the county assessor and is now halfway through her third term. Weyand said it’s just the right time to retire and she has been thinking about it for a while.


Clark County Courthouse

Clark County to Change Lobby Hours to Improve Efficiency
(Article courtesy of The Reflector)

Some in-person Clark County services will have a slight tweak on operation times in order to save funds in response to a budget crunch from balancing the county’s biennial budget.

As of Jan. 3, the Clark County Public Service Center’s second-floor joint lobby will adjust walk-in business hours, a release from Clark County last month stated. The lobby provides services for the county Assessor’s and Treasurer’s offices as well as the recording department of the Auditor’s Office.


Donna Karvia

Former WACO President Donna Karvia Receives "Person of the Year" Award
(Article courtesy of The Chronicle)

The Chronicle has named former Washington Association of County Officials President, Donna Karvia 2016 Person of the Year.


Washington Association of County Officials Staff Contact

Scott Blonien
Executive Director

Monty Cobb
Policy Director, General Counsel

Timothy Grisham
Director of Member Services - Communications

Michell Allert
Administrative and Member Services Support


206 Tenth Ave. SE
Olympia, WA 98501


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