A consultant hired to determine how moving the Benton County seat from Prosser to Kennewick would affect the community is asking for the public's help.
"We want to hear what kinds of questions the public has," said Susan Burke of Entrix, a Seattle-based consultant being paid $55,000 by the county to identify the important issues associated with moving the county seat.
County voters will decide Nov. 2 whether to support or reject making Kennewick the new official county seat.
Entrix is working with county officials and through a public advisory board consisting of eight community leaders from Prosser and Kennewick to do an independent assessment and financial analysis of the potential effects on the communities and county employees who would be involved.
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"We are trying to collect information. What are the burning questions the public has about this?" Burke said.
Are people concerned more about county jobs moving out of Prosser, or about the effects of fewer lunches, less groceries and gasoline purchases occurring in Prosser, or are there less tangible, emotional issues, such as the loss of prestige connected with being a county seat, or fears that the historic county courthouse will lose status and possibly become rental property?
Burke said all concerns, comments and open-ended questions will be welcome.
"We are working at arms' length with the county to provide an unbiased report," Burke said.
The public can send comments and questions to Entrix's consulting team at firstname.lastname@example.org, she said.
The feedback will help the consultant develop questions that should be addressed in an informational brochure due out before election day, she said.
Aug. 2 is the deadline for submitting comments or questions. The Entrix team must deliver a draft of its detailed report to the county by mid-August.
The goal is to find "information gaps" and prepare a list of frequently asked questions for the brochure.
Burke said retired Judge Fred Staples, who led the effort to gather signatures to place the county seat move measure on the ballot, is not on the public advisory board but has agreed to write the argument for the ballot supporting the measure.
Burke said she would not divulge the names of the advisory board members until after they have a first meeting.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; email@example.com