Benton County commissioners approve dispatch pact

Tri-City HeraldApril 2, 2013 

Benton County commissioners on Tuesday gave their final stamp of approval to an interlocal agreement that paves the way for a regional emergency communications system in the Tri-Cities.

The vote was unanimous, although Commissioner Jim Beaver reiterated his concern that Benton County has been involved in other cross-jurisdictional arrangements that didn’t turn out to be equitable.

“I want to express to you this morning why I’m concerned about another partnership. In my observation, some of those have not been successful and actually have cost Benton County considerably,” he said during the meeting.

Beaver voted against the agreement when it came before commissioners last month in draft form, taking issue with the removal of language specifying a cost-benefit analysis would include looking at how Benton County, Kennewick and Richland would be compensated or reimbursed for money they’ve already spent on their upgraded radio system.

The final version says the analysis will include looking at “the value of existing system infrastructure.”

Commissioner Shon Small said he also has concerns, but the county’s not yet at a final decision point on regionalization and he’ll work to ensure the county’s interests are protected if the process moves forward.

The agreement is among Benton and Franklin counties and the cities of Richland, Pasco and Kennewick. Under the pact, a consultant would be hired to design a plan for combining the emergency communications systems in the two counties.

The city councils in Richland and Pasco have signed off on the agreement, and the Kennewick council is scheduled to take a vote Tuesday night. Franklin County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the pact Wednesday.

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