The membership of the Washington Association of County Officials (WACO) includes elected county assessors, auditors, clerks, coroners and medical examiners, prosecuting attorneys, sheriffs, treasurers and comparable appointed officials in charter counties. WACO is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization.
WACO is comprised of affiliate organizations for every county official in Washington's 39 counties. These affiliate associations meet throughout the year, bringing colleagues together to discuss issues of common interest and to exchange ideas and opinions.
HOW DOES WACO OPERATE?
WACO policy is determined by an 18-member Board of Trustees made up of county officials from throughout the state. Representatives on the Board are chosen by county size and affiliate group. Officers and trustees are elected at the annual WACO Conference and meet four to five times a year. WACO has a full-time staff near the capitol campus in Olympia, serving the nearly 270 members in the organization.
What DOES WACO DO?
WACO provides the following to its members: legislative representation; education and training; informational publications; day-to-day assistance concerning a wide variety of issues of importance to counties; local, state, and federal agency liaison; an annual conference for training and to develop a legislative package; affiliate support; and other forums in which to develop ideas and build consensus.
WACO plays a major role in representing local government and its citizens before the legislature. WACO assists county officials in developing legislative recommendations, drafting bills, securing sponsors and coordinating testimony at legislative hearings. During legislative sessions, a weekly update of legislative activity is distributed to the members by WACO and the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC), which represents county commissioners and council members. The Courthouse Journal summarizes proposals affecting county offices and informs officials of upcoming hearings, as well as strategic actions our members need to take with legislators and state officials. When the legislature adjourns, staff support is directed to ongoing legislative issues, addressing the impact of new laws and seeking viable alternatives to solve problems.
WACO works closely with local, state and federal agencies, as well as the National Association of Counties (NACo), providing information about topics of common interest, resolving problems and coordinating activities.
The Certified Public Officials program is available to provide professional development opportunities for all members. Successful completion of the educational program components results in public recognition of the official and a Certified Public Official designation. WACO also works with its members through their respective affiliate organizations for training specific to their offices.
WACO staff provides prompt responses to requests for information from members, lawmakers, other agencies and the public. Communication through correspondence and personal contact provides a constant interchange of ideas relative to new laws, court decisions, regulations, education technology, and procedures and practices in the various counties. The Courthouse Journal newsletter distributed by WACO and WSAC informs members of upcoming meetings and events, training opportunities, courthouse news from around the state, and current county, state and national government stories of interest.
WACO has a website offering a wealth of information about the 39 counties in the state, in addition to providing other links to related websites of interest.
Other publications include summaries of Attorney General Opinions, a pamphlet summarizing the duties and responsibilities of the various county offices and a Directory of County Officials. Surveys are often conducted in response to inquiries and for help in developing legislation. Other statistics and data are developed as needed.
HOW WAS WACO CREATED?
The organization began its early stages of development in 1954 with all elected officials in Washington State extended an invitation to join through their respective associations.
By January of 1955, legislation was introduced to add the Washington State Association of Elected County Officials in statute. The bill did not pass. Determined county officials continued their efforts for four more years and ultimately won passage of the legislation in 1959.
WACO commenced operation on March 1, 1960, with offices in Olympia.