Business Briefs — January 2016

BBB warns of timeshare scheme

The Better Business Bureau has received complaints about a timeshare purchasing business called All Business Consulting Services, which claims to be based in Dalton Gardens, Idaho. A consumer was contacted by phone by a representative of the company who offered to purchase the consumer’s timeshare in Mexico. The caller claimed to have a buyer who was interested in purchasing the timeshare and willing to pay more than face value. The caller said they already had cash in an escrow account for the purchase.

It sounded good to the consumer, until they received a call from the supposed escrow agent, who explained that the contract included a $4,100 fee to pay the new owner up front due to Mexican government taxes.

Another consumer reported that ABCS transferred the sale to an escrow agent with Epic National Title and Settlement Services in Lakewood, Colo. to complete the transaction. She paid the requested $4,000 in taxes and fees and has heard nothing since then. Epic National title has an F rating with the Colorado BBB, due to lack of required licensing.

BBB’s investigation revealed the address listed as ABCS’s physical local is a postal store. BBB has confirmed that the Mexican government does not require any kind of tariff, title or change fee up front from a timeshare seller.

Sportsmen Show at TRAC

The 22nd Annual Tri-Cities Sportsmen show will be Jan. 22-24 at TRAC in Pasco.
The event will include the latest in outdoor equipment, a trophy antler collection, kid’s fishing pond, free air rifle range, free hourly hunting and fishing seminars, retriever demonstrations and more.

There will also be an indoor 3-D archery shoot and an outdoor cooking camp hosted by Cee Dub Welch.

Exhibitors include retail merchants, factory representatives, outdoor clubs and organizations, taxidermists, wildlife art, fishing boats and fishing and hunting guides.
Door prizes are given away hourly.

The cost is $9 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 6-12 and children under 6 are free. Friday is seniors day and those ages 60 and older receive admission for $4.50. The one-time admission gets you into the show for all three days. Those who show military I.D. receive $1 off admission.
The event hours are 1 – 7 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday.

Board members sought

The Richland City Council is accepting applications from residents interested in serving on its Benton County Mosquito Control District Board. Applicants must submit an application and a resume. The term of the appointment is two years or until Dec. 31, 2017.

Details are available on the city’s website at or by calling the city at 509-942-7388. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Planetarium hosts fair

The Bechtel National Planetarium at Columbia Basin College will host an Environmental Action Fair from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

More than 10 local, nonprofit environmental groups will be on hand, including the Alliance for a Livable and Sustainable Community, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Friends of Badger Mountain, Go Green Tri-Cities, Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society, Mid-Columbia Market at the Hub, Mid-Columbia River Wildlife Refuge, The REACH Museum, Ridges to Rivers Open Space Network, Sustainable Energy and Environmental Network and the Sustainable Living Center.

In addition, two films, Dynamic Earth and Oasis in Space, will be shown during the event.
The Bechtel National Planetarium is at Columbia Basin College in Pasco. Ticket prices are $4 for children ages 6-12 and $6 for all others. CBC students and employees are free with CBC I.D.
For more information, call 509-547-0511.

HHS presents The Little Mermaid

Hanford High Center Stage will present Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jan. 29 – Feb. 6.

The production is a musical story of a young mermaid who is curious about the human world and finds a new feeling of love for a human prince. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29 & 30 and Feb. 3, 5 & 6. There will be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Feb. 6. Tickets are $12 for students and $15 for adults. For more information, call 509-967-7215.

Austin to speak

Toni Austin, manager of IS&T Systems Engineering at Bechtel National will speak at the Feb. 9 meeting of the local American Society for Quality.

Austin’s topic is ‘Data Analytics: The Good, the Bad and the Challenges.’

The meeting is at the Shilo Inn, 50 Comstock Blvd. in Richland. It starts with check-in and networking at 5:30 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner at 6 p.m. and the presentation at 6:45 p.m. The cost is $20 for ASQ members, $25 for non-members or $5 for the presentation only. RSVP by Feb. 4 by calling 509-371-2221 or by email to For more information, go to

Network with The Edge

Four enthusiastic speakers will be featured at The Edge 9, presented by Growing Forward Services.
The event will be from 4-6 p.m. Jan. 26 at The Chaplaincy, 1480 SE Fowler in Richland.
Speakers will be: Diana Williams, The Art of Connecting; Danette Layne, Five Things You Need in Your Five-Year Plan; Neal Taylor, Providership Sales; and Paul Casey, Getting Better at Conflict Conversations.

The cost is $33 per person, which includes appetizers. Register at

Gesa offers Americans debit cards

Gesa Credit Union and the Tri-City Americans have entered into a partnership agreement naming Gesa Credit Union as the Official Credit Union of the Tri-City Americans. The partnership allows community members to show their team pride by obtaining a co-branded Tri-City Americans Gesa VISA Debit Card.

In addition to the branded debit cards and corporate benefits, Gesa will also sponsor the Gesa Credit Union Saves for Students program, which provides funds for the Americans’ Players Continuing Education Fund, a nonprofit created to support players continuing their higher education dreams. During all home and away games, a $2 donation will be made for every save completed by an Americans’ goaltender.

For more information, go to

BCD offers stream training

The Benton Conservation District is offering a free Master Streamkeeper training Jan. 30 in Kennewick. Those who attend will learn to identify aquatic plants, both native and non-native; hear a ‘State of the Salmon’ address for the Yakima River; learn how to monitor water quality and why it’s important; and learn water safety techniques.

Speakers include botanist Jenifer Parsons, Washington Department of Ecology; Alex Conley, executive director of Yakima Basin Fish & Wildlife Recovery Board; and chemist Marcella Appel, of the Benton Conservation District and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The event will be at 9 a.m. in the Ranch & Home Conference Room, 845 N. Columbia Center Blvd.
For more information, call Rachel Little at 509-736-6000.

Vancouver company fined for workplace violations

Wall to Wall Tile &Stone of Vancouver has been fined $261,000 for failing to protect workers from exposure to silica dust and other health hazards associated with stone slab grinding. The Department of Labor & Industries cited the employer for multiple instances of ‘failure-to-abate’ serious violations after a follow-up inspection found the employer had not corrected violations that it was cited for in November 2014. The employer has 15 days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

Tax season opens

Following a review of the tax extenders legislation signed into law in December, the IRS announced that the nation’s tax season will begin as scheduled on Jan. 19.

The IRS will begin accepting individual electronic returns that day. The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual returns in 2016, with more than four out of five being prepared using tax return preparation software and being e-filed. The filing deadline to submit 2015 tax returns is Monday, April 18, rather than the traditional April 15 date.

The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing, including all W-2s from employers, 1099 forms from banks and other payers and 1095-A form from the Marketplace for those claiming the premium tax credit.

Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and to receive a refund. The IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

For more information, go to

Vit plant awards $111 million in subcontracts

The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant project, also known as the Vit Plant, awarded more than $111 million in subcontracts to businesses based in Washington and Oregon in 2015. Of those subcontracts, nearly $90 million were awarded to those in the Tri-Cities.

The subcontracts represent 68.7 percent and 55 percent respectively of all those awarded for construction of the Vit Plant, and represents the largest percentage of all subcontracts awarded in the past five years to the Tri-Cities and regional businesses.

Senske buys Washington Tree Service

Senske Lawn & Tree Care has acquired the assets of Washington Tree Service Inc., a 67-year-old company that serves the Puget Sound region and has branches in Burien, Shoreline and Lakewood.
Details of the acquisition were not revealed.

Chris Senske, Senske president, said Washington Tree and Senske have had a long, cooperative relationship and have worked together in industry issues within the state. Washington Tree has developed natural treatments for the control of pests that Senske hopes to adopt system-wide and, if possible, improve upon.

The acquisition gives Senske a total of six service centers throughout the state of Washington.
Senske Lawn & Tree Care is a lawn, tree and pest control service provider that is locally-owned and operated, with its corporate offices based in Kennewick.

Food vendors sought

The City of Richland’s Park and Public Facilities Department is accepting applications for park recreational and food and beverage vendors for 2016. Those interested should contact Phil Pinard at 509-942-7463 or for an applications. Applications are due by 4 p.m. Jan. 31.

Wenatchee assisted living facility cited

Columbia Heights Retirement and Assisted Living facility in Wenatchee faces a fine of more than $100,000 from the Department of Labor & Industries for worker health violations involving excessive and repetitive lifting.

One of the reasons the fine is so large is that the facility was cited for some of the same violations in May of 2015, but they were not corrected. The most recent inspection found that Columbia Heights had not provided any means to protect employees from lifting hazards, as required in a previous inspection.

Columbia Heights was also cited for not developing a formal accident prevention program tailor to the hazards of the workplace.

The employer has appealed the citation.

ACT plans fundraiser

The Academy of Children’s Theatre will have its 13th Annual Heart for the Arts fundraiser Feb. 27 at the Richland Red Lion.

Themed as a Tony Awards night, the event will include a tribute to ACT alumni and a special guest.
The event raises critical funds for ACT, allowing the nonprofit to offer performances, classes and special programs at an affordable cost for families. The evening features entertainment by ACT participants, wines, auctions, dinner and an inspiring tribute.

Event and table sponsorships are available online at or by calling 509-943-6027. Individual tickets are $75 per person before Feb. 1 or $85 per person after that date.

State sees job gains

Washington added 10,100 new nonfarm jobs, on a preliminary, seasonally-adjusted basis, from October 2015 to November 2015, according to the state’s Employment Security Department.
While the state gained jobs, the state’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.3 percent after holding steady at 5.2 percent for two consecutive months, according to estimates by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate for Benton and Franklin counties dropped from 6.6 percent in October to 6.5 percent in November, with a workforce of 119,702 and 8,314 workers receiving unemployment benefits.

KSD names new schools

The Kennewick School District board of directors have chosen the names of the two new schools that will open this fall.

The new middle school, which is under construction at 27th Avenue and Southridge Boulevard, will be called Chinook Middle School – Home of the Wolves. This will be Kennewick’s fifth middle school.

The new elementary school, which is under construction in the Sage Crest neighborhood south of Southridge High School, will be called Sage Crest Elementary — Home of the Owls. It is Kennewick’s 15th elementary school.

Both schools are being built with funds voters approved during the February 2015 bond election.

Wallula feedlot fined

Simplot Feeders LLP, a beef cattle feeding operation in Walla Walla County, has been fined $50,000 for failing to manage air pollution. The Washington Department of Ecology found that the facility allowed small particles into the air, including dust and dried manure. Fine particles can cause health problems for people who are exposed frequently and at high enough levels.

Simplot Feeders violated air quality rules that require management of dust and other pollution. Simplot’s monitoring data shows more than 50 days between April and September 2015 that staff observed excess dust onsite or leaving the property. The operators did not apply practices outline in the company’s dust control plan that are designed to prevent small-particle pollution.

Ecology inspectors observed broken sprinklers and poor water application intended to control pollution from cattle pens and roadways. Inspectors also noted excess dust being released from the feed prep area.

The company received a formal notice from Ecology in July for failing to manage air pollution in the feed prep area, cattle pens and roadways. Since the notice, some improvements have been made to reduce dust, specifically in the feed prep area.

Foundation to announce scholarship winners

The Trios Foundation will have its Annual Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 17 at the Three Rivers Convention Center. The one-hour breakfast, which is open to the public, raises money for the Trios Foundation Scholarship Program and to support other hospital programs and services.

In addition to showcasing the Foundation’s results from the prior year, Trios Foundation scholarship winders and the winner of the Jim Mokler Outstanding Leadership and Service Award will be announced at the event.

Breakfast is complimentary with an RSVP. To register, visit the Foundation website at or call 509-221-5776.

Teams forming for 20th Annual Americana Bowl

Junior Achievement is accepting registrations for its annual bowling fundraiser. This year’s theme is Americana Bowl 2016.

The event will be Feb. 29 – Mar. 5 at Atomic Bowl in Richland.

The event raises money for JA’s innovative in-school programs that impact more than 11,000 local students. For more information or to register, go to or call 509-783-7222 ext. 108.

Chamber offers managing diversity workshop

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce’s January Business Development University, ‘Managing Diversity in the Workplace,’ will be from 1-3 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Tri-Cities Business & Visitor Center in the Bechtel Board Room. Rick Griffin of Jubilee Leadership Academy will be the featured speaker.

The workshop will provide tips and strategies to recruit, sell to, hire, train and motivate diverse individuals and groups.

The cost is $25 for Regional Chamber members and $35 for all others. RSVP by Jan. 20 to the Regional Chamber by calling 509-736-0510 or online at

KID road closures

The Kennewick Irrigation District will be replacing pipeline along South Vancouver Street between West 45th Avenue and West 36th Avenue from Jan. 12-Feb. 22. During this time there will be temporary road closures. Road closure updates and a map with a schedule of the anticipated dates and area can be found on the KID website under the News tab. KID will also post updates and reminders on its Facebook pace. For more information, go to

WorkSource launching new job match site

The Washington Employment Security Department has contracted with to develop a new, more user-friendly WorkSource job match system to replace its existing website. will have an improved recruitment tools for employers, including: the power and expertise of; Monster’s 6Sense talent management software, providing real-time, ranked job matches for employers and recruiters; free job posting and applicant matching; ranking and side-by-side comparison of applicants; and access to the largest talent database in Washington.
The new website will also have a fresh look and feel and be easily accessible across multiple devices from smartphones to tablets to traditional desktop computers and laptops.

Employment Security and business service professionals will meet with employers across the state once the new site is live to see how they can help employers recruit the talent they need. A preview of the site can be viewed at

ESD releases tax rates

About 83 percent of all employers in Washington state will see their unemployment tax rates drop in 2016.

The Employment Security Department has issued its 2016 tax rate notices and tax rates in all 40 rate classes declined from 2015 to 2016, ranging from 0.10 to 5.7 percent, not county delinquency taxes.

About 83 percent of Washington employers will have a lower tax rate in 2016, 0.3 percent will remain the same and 16 percent will move to a higher rate class.

The average tax rate will decrease from an estimated 1.48 percent in 2015 to an estimated 1.26 percent in 2016. The average total tax paid per employee will decline by $48 to $277.
Employers will pay unemployment taxes on the first $44,000 of each employee’s earnings in 2016. For an employee earning $44,000 or more, the total tax for the year will range from $44 for employers in rate class 1 to $2,508 for employers in rate class 40.

For 2016, new employers will pay 90 percent of the average rate for all businesses in their respective industries.

Minimum wage remains the same

Washington state’s minimum wage will remain at $9.47 per hour in 2016.

For years, Washington’s minimum wage has been the highest in the country. That changed on Jan. 1, when Alaska, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island moved to higher rates.

Several Washington cities, including Seattle, SeaTac and Tacoma, will have higher minimum wages than the statewide amount in 2016.

Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Youth ages 14-15 may be paid 85 percent of the adult wage, or $8.05 per hour.

The Department of Labor & Industries calculates the minimum wage annually as required under Initiative 688, which voters approved in 1998. It’s the second time the state minimum wage has remained flat since the initiative passed. The last time was in 2010.

Tips for businesses filing state taxes in January

January is a busy time for the Washington State Department of Revenue, with state excise tax returns due by the end of the month from more than 500,000 taxpayers with active tax registrations.

The deadline for monthly filers is Monday, Jan. 25. Quarterly and annual filers have until Monday, Feb. 1, due to the return date falling on a Sunday.
Revenue advises taxpayers to prepare their returns early and, if needed, seek help sooner rather than later in the month. Wait times for help from Revenue’s tax specialists grow longer as the end of the month nears.

January is when the tax return due date converges for all businesses, whether they file on an annual, quarterly or monthly basis. All filers – even if they had no business activity but have an active tax registration account – must file a tax return by their due date.

You can call and talk to Revenue’s tax specialists at 800-647-7706, email tax questions, use Revenue’s live chat services or visit a Revenue office. Callers can reach Revenue tax specialists between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. Automated phone services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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