Benton County commissioners decided Tuesday they didn't need to send a letter with their concerns about a regional emergency communications agreement.
Since last week, the county has talked with leaders from other jurisdictions involved in the merger discussions and submitted some proposed changes to the pact.
The changes include making it clear the agreement doesn't commit the jurisdictions to regionalization, and ensures that a buy-in by Pasco and Franklin County is looked at in the study or business plan, county officials said.
Benton County, Kennewick and Richland already contributed to an upgraded radio network on their side of the river.
Those developments made the letter unnecessary, commissioners Shon Small and Jim Beaver said after Tuesday's meeting. Commissioner Jerome Delvin was absent.
The county now will wait for the other jurisdictions to weigh in, county officials said.
The idea of combining the emergency dispatch operations in the Tri-Cities has been on the table for years. One study found it could improve service and save money.
In late 2011, the two counties approved an agreement with the state for a separate feasibility study.
But that study didn't happen, and a new agreement -- among the two counties and cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland -- came forward in the last few months calling for a consultant to help design and implement an action plan for a regional system.
The other jurisdictions viewed the pact as an intermediate step, with a final decision about forming a regional system coming later.
But Benton County officials interpreted it as committing to a merger -- and commissioners said they needed more information first.
At a special meeting last week, they approved sending a letter to the other jurisdictions saying they want an independent study delving into the details of merging.
Commissioners at that special meeting also said they wanted to send a letter to Benton County Emergency Services in support of temporarily leasing emergency communications infrastructure to the Pasco Police Department.
That department has communications issues because of the radio system it uses, and commissioners have said a lease could serve as a temporary fix while the long-term regional plans are worked out.
Commissioners approved that letter Tuesday.
-- Commissioners denied a $1 million tort claim by Edward Ralph Fernald of Richland, who alleged he was assaulted by sheriff's deputies and Richland police, and suffered mental and physical anguish because of a police incident in the Benton City area last fall.
A memo from county staff said the county's only involvement was to assist in setting up spike strips to stop a vehicle and there's no evidence to support the claim against the county.