Franklin County commissioners were not ready Wednesday to approve a lease agreement for a building on Morain Street in Kennewick to house the Benton-Franklin Human Services Department's crisis response team and homeless housing unit.
Benton County commissioners had asked Human Services director Ed Thornbrugh at their Tuesday meeting to ask Franklin commissioners to reconsider a previous decision against the proposed seven-year lease.
But Franklin Commissioner Brad Peck told Thornbrugh Wednesday that real estate developers say getting a permanent facility could be done for around $1.4 million, while leasing for seven years would cost at least $915,000.
The counties could have several options, including using space now set aside for storage in the Human Services Department offices and building a new building, Peck said.
"I'm not adamantly opposed to the lease," Peck said. "I just don't feel like they're doing adequate due diligence to the other options."
Some changes were made to the lease proposal for the 6,300 square feet since Franklin commissioners first expressed discomfort with it Sept. 18. The lease previously only allowed the counties to get out of the agreement if the human services department were abolished, but Thornbrugh said Wednesday that an opt-out clause was inserted that would let the counties out of the lease after three years if they gave six months written notice.
The proposed lease calls for the counties to pay $6,300 a month for crisis response and $3,200 for homeless housing, Thornbrugh said. The department now pays $4,600 a month to lease space on Deschutes Avenue, but also has to pay $1,800 a month for a high-speed fiber optic phone line that it wouldn't have to pay at the new location.
Getting a permanent crisis response facility could end up hurting Franklin County, Commissioner Bob Koch said.
"This is such a fluid business that we don't know if we're going to be in business in three years," he said. "What are we going to do with the building then?"
Commissioners said they would discuss the issue with their Benton counterparts before making a decision.
The crisis response center provides mental health intervention services, including grief counseling, referrals and emergency assistance with psychiatric medications.
Human Services would like to move into space at 500 N. Morain Street in Kennewick to be closer to other government and social services, Thornbrugh said.
-- Commissioners approved a request by Franklin Fire District 2 to allow it to withdraw from covering part of its current territory.
The area in the southern part of the district, near Star School, will be taken over by Franklin Fire District 3.
-- Commissioners approved a request from the public works department to rent a hydra platform from Whitman County for $900 per week. Public works director Matt Mahoney said the platform is used for inspection of the county's taller and longer bridges.
The county will use it for two to three weeks.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom