Benton County Seat Change Referendum (November 2010)

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There was a Benton County Seat Change Referendum measure on the November 2 ballot in Benton County.

This measure was approved

  • YES 34,428 (55.57%)Approveda
  • NO 27,527 (44.43%)[1]

An ex judge had submitted a petition to get the county seat of Benton changed from Prosser to Kennewick, a more populated city in the county. This is the second time he has tried to get the county seat moved and believes he will be successful this attempt because he has 20,408 signatures ready for checking by the county clerk. 13,684 verified signatures are required for the issue to be put on the ballot.[2]

The petition had been approved, with 14,368 signatures being verified out of more than 20,000 being submitted. This is only the first step, signers have till May 1 to withdraw their names and the county has to complete a financial assessment of the move to give to voters before the election.[3] Estimating the costs associated with the potential move is proving more daunting for the county council, they are unsure what the public wants with the move and what is required under state law. Though the League of Women Voters issues a report in 2008 about moving the county seat, this has not been done before in the state of Washington so officials are unsure of the procedures to follow.[4]

Three proposals were offered in regards to how much it would cost the county to move the county seat. Depending on how many offices are moved, the costs of the change varies greatly. Recent opinions noted that most residents spoken to do not feel that the cost of the move would be worth the effort.[5] Two of the three commissioners noted that if this measure is approved, whatever plan is the least costly means to move the county seat would be the option taken by the county. The third member stated that millions would have to be spent to move the county seat but the other members did not see how this was a valid point. The least costly proposal would be $6,600 and in the long run would actually save money due to reduction in gas costs. The most expensive option would cost around $8,100 but would be near $2.3 million over the next ten years.[6]

The Prosser School Board had officially come out against this measure, noting that if the county seat was moved, residents of Prosser would lose out on taxes and other importances to residents. The Prosser city council also released a resolution stating their opposition to the move.[7]

See also