COUNTIES—COUNTY COMMISSIONER—LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY—PUBLIC MEETINGS—Whether A County Legislative Authority Can Meet Outside The County To Hold A Joint Meeting With Another County’s Legislative Authority
A county legislative authority may not meet outside of its county in order to hold a joint meeting with the legislative authority of another county unless a specific exception applies, but the legislative authorities may conduct joint meetings using video conferencing.
November 14, 2014
|The Honorable Shawn P. Sant
Franklin County Prosecutor
1016 N 4th Avenue
Pasco, WA 99301
AGO 2014 No. 7
Dear Prosecutor Sant:
By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested our opinion on the following questions, which we have paraphrased slightly for clarity:
1. Can the legislative authority of one county meet outside its borders, and within another county’s borders, to discuss joint bi-county projects?
2. Can the legislative authorities of two counties conduct regular joint meetings utilizing video conferencing, while each legislative authority is physically located within its county seat?
In this modern technological era, there are many expedient methods to conduct business. For example, video conferencing, internet conferencing, and telephone conference calls are all means to conduct transactions in an economical and efficient manner. These methods allow persons to be “present” to one another without the demands often required to achieve physical presence.
ROBERT W. FERGUSON
Assistant Attorney General
The county legislative authority of each county may hold special meetings to transact the business of the county. Notice of a special meeting shall be made as provided in RCW 42.30.080. A special meeting may be held outside of the county seat at any location within the county if the agenda item or items are of unique interest or concern to the citizens of the portion of the county in which the special meeting is to be held.
 The Wiley Court referred to a previous case where the appointment of an agent by the county commissioners was approved of despite the lack of an express statutory grant of this power. Wiley, 16 Wn.2d at 348-49 (discussing State ex rel. Whitney v. Friars, 10 Wash. 348, 352, 39 P. 104 (1894)). County commissioners had also been affirmed in their power to allow the prosecuting attorney to hire an expert witness to assist in a case, even though no statute specifically granted this authority. Id. at 349-50 (discussing Williamson v. Snohomish County, 64 Wash. 233, 237, 116 P. 675 (1911)).