recently approved $1.7 million in grants from its sales tax-generated economic
The money will be put
toward projects from the city of Kennewick and Port of Kennewick, Richland and
The county awarded $1
million to Kennewick and its port to transform Clover Island’s shoreline. The
money will go toward improving public infrastructure and preparing three commercial
building sites totaling 3.24 acres.
Work will include
shoreline stabilization, extension of utilities, trail building, installation
of drainage infrastructure and landscaping.
The county also
approved $350,000 for Swift Boulevard improvements between Stevens Drive and
Jadwin Avenue that includes upgraded traffic signals, replacement of street
lighting and installing on-street landscaping features.
$340,856 to complete the first phase of a utility crossing project at
Interstate 82. It’s part of a plan to facilitate commercial growth in the Gap
Road Commercial District and surrounding area.
Upon completion, the
utility crossing will assist in the recruitment of new businesses to about 160
acres of commercially zoned, public- and privately-owned properties. Build-out
is expected 24 months after completion.
The county’s grant
will pay for a feasibility and engineering study to determine two possible
crossing locations for water, sewer, natural gas, electrical, telephone and
fiber optic utilities, among other work.
Since spring 2017,
the county has approved more than $9.2 million in projects through its Rural
County Capital Fund, which is fed by a sales tax collected by the county and
earmarked for economic development, job creation and tax revenue in the county.
The 0.09 of 1 percent
tax generates about $354,000 in sales tax revenue for Benton County each month.
The tax sunsets in 2026.
The county’s rolling
grant program doesn’t come with a lot of red tape or competitive judging and matching
dollars aren’t required.
The proposals made to
the county are evaluated based on whether they meet state law and county
The money is awarded
based on city population, which is why the program was launched in the first
place. It’s intended to give an injection of money to rural counties with a
population density of less than 100 people per square mile, or a county smaller
than 225 square miles.
qualified when the tax was implemented, though it has since grown to 112 people
per square mile.
The county dispersed
$2.1 million for 11 projects between 1998 and 2002.
After that, the
county dedicated tax dollars from 2001-16 to pay off the debt for the Benton
The county policy was revised in 2017 after enough revenue
was collected to satisfy the jail’s bonded debt. The state allowed Benton
County to use the money for the jail bond but changed parameters later so other
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