The City of Kelso, incorporated in 1889, is located in southwestem Washington on the Cowlitz River, approximately 127 miles south of the City of Seattle, Washington and 50 miles north of the City of Portland, Oregon. The City, which serves as the Cowlitz County seat, lies adjacent to the City of Longview. Together, the Kelso/Longview urban area comprises the primary population center of Cowlitz County with roughly 60,000 residents. The City of Kelso currently occupies a land area of 8 square miles and serves a population of over 12,000. The City of Kelso operates under the Council-Manager form of govemment. The Council is responsible, among other things, for passing ordinances, adopting the budget, appointing committees, and hiring both the City Manager and City Attomey. The City Manager is responsible for carrying out the policies and ordinances of the Council, for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the City, and for appointing the heads of the various departments. The Council is elected via City-wide vote. Council members serve four-year staggered terms, with three/four Council members elected every two years. The City Council elects a Mayor from the Council membership for a two-year term.
The City of Kelso provides a full range of services, including police, fire protection (City contracts with Cowlitz County Fire District No. 2), refuse removal (City contracts with Waste Control Equipment Inc.), street maintenance, transit system (City contracts with River Cities Transit), water and sewer utilities, library services, and parks and recreation facilities.
Cities and counties of the State of Washington must comply with the Budgeting, Accounting, and Reporting System (BARS) prescribed by the Office of the State Auditor as authorized under RCW 43.09.200 and RCW 43.09.230. State law also provides for annual independent audits by the Washington State Auditor’s Office and requires timely submission of annual financial reports to the State for review. The financial system of the City of Kelso incorporates a system of financial and administrative controls that ensure the safeguarding of assets and the reliability of financial reports. Consequently they are designed to provide reasonable assurance that transactions are executed in accordance with management authorization, recorded in conformity with GAAP, that accountability of control over assets and obligations exists, and that sufficient reporting and review exists to provide adequate information for analysis and comparability of data.