process of jumping through the required hoops to start new construction
projects is set to run more efficiently in Benton County once a new “one-stop
shop” opens in the Tri-Cities, replicating some services currently only
available in Prosser.
move will merge the county’s building, planning and road departments together
under one roof on 10 acres at 102808 Wiser Parkway, which is visible from
Interstate 82 near the Badger Road exit and across from Columbia Sun RV Resort.
The county’s fleet and road maintenance divisions are currently located at the
you’re building a house or building a business in Benton County, you’re going
to interact with those three departments along the way,” said Matt Rasmussen,
public works administrator for Benton County. “Currently one department is
located on West Canal Drive (in Kennewick) and the other two are located in
Prosser. It was inconvenient and we had some people who were not happy with
plan to build a Public Services Building got underway about a year and a half
ago. It took about a year for the county to receive its own permits, following
the same process private citizens must.
Construction of Kennewick is the general contractor for the $1.79 million
project and is on schedule to finish it by the end of the year.
really is going to become a lot more convenient for the public, and it’s also
going to be a lot more interactive for the three departments,” Rasmussen said.
“We’ll be able to work together immediately instead of via email or phone call
or having to drive back and forth. There are a lot of efficiency gains. And I
expect we’re going to see an uptick in person-to-person contact.”
the county seat remains in Prosser, Benton County is not moving services, but
splitting them across the two cities.
new hires are planned and staff members who live in Prosser will work there,
while those commuting within the Tri-Cities will drive to unincorporated
17 to 20 employees will be housed at the Tri-City location, with a “little
less” in Prosser. The team issues about 1,500 to 2,000 permits annually across
the three departments.
the building, road and planning departments in Prosser will be merged at the
Benton County Courthouse on Market Street, allowing the county to surplus the
Dudley Avenue annex, which currently houses the planning department.
though it’s a block away, it’s like, ‘I’ve got to go here, and then I’ve got to
go here, and then this person said this and I’ve got to go back and ask again.’
This way, you can have representatives from all three departments right at the
counter talking to you and you can get all the questions answered. There’s no
more back-and-forth and that will be a whole lot better for everybody
involved,” Rasmussen said.
said there’s already an interested buyer for the Dudley property and selling
the building would lower the county’s operating expenses.
new building’s cost is split between the road department, building department
and capital projects fund.
expects the change to be immediate once the new building is ready.
a light switch moving from one to the other. We may even have to schedule
moving over the weekend just to make sure. We really can’t interrupt services,
especially with the homebuilding market the way it is. The building department
is buried so they can’t afford to be closed at all,” he said.
the area near where the new building will be on Wiser Parkway, 400 new homes
are expected in the next year.
Palmus, communications coordinator for Benton County, acknowledges that change
can be difficult. “We want to make sure people are well aware before they think
they have to drive all the way to Prosser and then get there and realize, ‘Oh,
I didn’t have to go all the way here,’ and then be annoyed at that,” she said.
County intends to spread the message widely so the actual switchover will be
“anticlimactic” when it happens, potentially by the end of the year.
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