A slate of improvements to the aging Benton County Courthouse in Prosser could begin this fall.
The improvements -- including remodeling the restrooms and shuffling work space within multiple departments -- would cost an estimated $456,000.
"I think this is outstanding," Commissioner Shon Small said of the plan, noting the improvements would enhance access and security.
Commissioners Tuesday gave the OK for staff to continue moving forward with the process. An agreement with the architecture firm that would handle design will come back for approval at a future meeting; the project then would go to bid.
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County officials were looking into remodeling the courthouse restrooms and decided to fold the so-called "courthouse shuffle" into the proposal.
County Auditor Brenda Chilton and Treasurer Duane Davidson presented the idea in April, saying shifting around some work areas would bring numerous benefits.
"I'm pleased that everybody was able to work together and come up with a plan that really is going to alleviate some of the crowded conditions and (dispersion) of staff that isn't ideal," Chilton told the Herald after Tuesday's meeting.
The shuffle would include relocating two auditor's office accounting work stations so the department's accounting staff is in the same area. A permanent wall also would be put in securing the elections processing area.
Among the other changes: the prosecuting attorney's office work area -- which would be displaced by the auditor's accounting move -- would go to the second floor treasurer's office; the geographic information system, or GIS, office would move to the first floor, giving it more space, putting it closer to public works and improving access for customers; and the sheriff's office work area would move to the second floor area that today holds GIS, which would provide a more private and secure setting.
The county also separately plans some courtroom improvements at the Prosser facility and replacement of the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning system.
Also Tuesday, commissioners approved some changes to an agreement with the city of West Richland dealing with use of $55,000 in county funds for development of the site where Jarod Shelby is building a supercar manufacturing facility. The main change is providing more time to use the money.
Commissioner Jim Beaver was absent from Tuesday's meeting.
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald