Pasco votes to have say in how money from surcharge fee is spent

Pasco will have a say in how Franklin County spends its portion of a surcharge on recorded documents, although at least one city council member would rather opt out of the fee.

The Pasco City Council on Monday unanimously approved an agreement with the county, Connell, Mesa and Kahlotus to administer the so-called "Affordable Housing for All Surcharge."

The county receives 60 percent of a $10 surcharge on certain recorded documents approved by the state Legislature, and the remainder is sent to the state Department of Commerce.

Councilman Bob Hoffmann said voting on the interlocal agreement seemed moot.

Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield said the agreement allows the city to have a say in how the dollars are spent.

Pasco can appoint four of the nine members of the oversight committee, according to the council packet. That committee will make recommendations on how the money is used, which go to the Franklin County commissioners for approval.

But the city can't opt out of the fee, Crutchfield said.

Hoffmann described it as "government at its worst" because the council couldn't vote on whether the fee was assessed. The fee is counterproductive, he said.

The county didn't have a choice on the fee, either, because it is state-mandated, said Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins. Pasco still should participate in deciding how the money is used even though it also had no option on the fee, he said.

The Benton and Franklin counties' Department of Human Services will administer the funds. The previous agreement that allowed the Benton Franklin Community Action Committee to administer the funds expired in 2010.