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City Government

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City Classification

On November 25, 1869, Tumwater was officially incorporated as a fourth class town. In 1964, the voters elected to change the classification to a third class city. And in 1994, the Tumwater City Council opted, by ordinance, to change the classification to a non-charter code city with a Mayor-Council form of government (RCW 35A.12).

Under this classification, the City of Tumwater may take any action on matters of local concern so long as that action is neither prohibited by the State Constitution nor in conflict with the general law of the state. The powers granted to code cities include all the powers granted to any other class of city in any existing or future legislative enactment, unless the legislature specifically makes a statute inapplicable to code cities.

Mayor-Council Form of Government

In the mayor-council form of government, policy and administration are separated. All legislative and policy-making powers are vested in the City Council. The administrative authority, including a veto power, is vested in the Mayor. In Tumwater, the Mayor and seven Councilmembers are elected by the registered voters of the City to staggered four-year terms.

Meet the Mayor and City Council

The City of Tumwater provides what are considered general governmental services authorized by state law, including public safety, highways and streets, parks and recreation, planning and zoning, permits and inspections, general administration and water, sewer and stormwater services.

The City is served by congressional district 10 and legislative districts 22 and 35.

Tumwater City Government 101

Like the federal and state governments, a city government’s powers are distributed among three separate branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The city council is similar to the state legislature or the Congress; the mayor or manager, like the governor and the President, heads the executive branch; and the municipal court (or the district court by contract) exercises judicial functions, although in a much more limited way than the state or federal courts.

Under the “separation of powers doctrine,” each of the three branches exercises certain defined powers, free from unreasonable interference by the others; yet all three branches interact with each other as part of a “checks and balances” system. The powers of these branches in city government are defined for the most part by state statute. See Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 35A.12 for authorizations of the non-charter Code City with a Mayor-Council form of government.

Learn more...

Tumwater Municipal Code

Mayor-City Council

City Meetings

City Departments

Role of the Mayor

Former Mayors

Role of the Council

Role of the City Administrator