Hearing in Kennewick to address care of aging public

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldMarch 20, 2014 

A public hearing is planned Friday in Kennewick on a proposal to change the governance of Southeast Washington Aging & Long Term Care.

Yakima County is the organization's host agency, ratifying contracts and providing oversight. The organization's almost 100 staffers are Yakima County employees.

But Yakima County has given notice that it wants a change, and the proposal on the table is to move to a council of governments.

Under that model, the organization's governing body would comprise one commissioner from each of the counties that agrees to participate.

Five counties in the eight-county territory covered by Southeast Washington Aging & Long Term Care have signed onto an interlocal pact establishing the council of governments.

Three haven't, including Benton and Franklin counties. Officials from those counties have raised liability concerns.

"We thought formation of a nonprofit" was a better option that would provide better protection, said Benton County Commissioner Jerome Delvin. That option is included in the interlocal agreement as a possibility, but it's not guaranteed.

A majority of the council of government members would have to agree to take the step, and the state would have to approve.

The public hearing is at 2:30 p.m. at the Aging & Long Term Care office at 3311 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite D-100.

The organization provides and coordinates a range of services for the aging and disabled.

Director Lori Brown said a council of governments would give all the counties greater input and more insight into the needs of the aging population, which is growing.

It's the state's preferred model and one used by other designated area agencies on aging in the state that cover multiple counties, she said.

Services still will be provided in counties that don't sign onto the interlocal agreement.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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