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Prosser may shop elsewhere

 | Published on 9/26/2010

At the Badger Club debate on the county seat issue, a question was posed concerning west Benton County households switching their retail, medical and service expenditures from Kennewick and Richland to Yakima and Union Gap. Keith Sattler's response missed the question and former Judge Fred Staples did not choose to respond.

When we moved to Prosser in 1974 and inquired about general shopping, everyone told us we should go to Yakima Mall and Union Gap Mall. Since the mid- to late 1980s, most persons in west Benton County have switched to shopping in the Tri-Cities for that which they cannot secure locally. Much of this, I am sure, is an issue of being loyal to and supporting businesses in the county in which they reside.

Loyalty has multiple facets and is based on reciprocal treatment. Emotions easily can replace earned loyalty if one feels one has been shafted. Emotions are running high in Prosser with the upcoming vote on the county seat. Many are talking about switching their out-of-town shopping from Kennewick/Richland to Yakima/Union Gap if the county seat is moved. This switch would involve retail purchases, medical services and professional services. It also would include those purchasing for resale and business purchases along with some farming and agriculture enterprises.

From discussions, it is estimated that the average expenditure per Prosser household in Kennewick/Richland is around $25,000 per year. Current estimates are running at more than 100 household that would switch immediately with most saying that it would rise to more than 1,000. Some even are predicting that the household figure would rise to 5,000. Recirculation figures for every dollar spent by consumers range from 3-8, thus 5 would be a good, average figure. Hence, one household's $25,000 becomes $125,000; 100 households would be $12,500,000; and 1,000 households would be $125,000,000.

I am sure that the switching of west Benton County households shopping from Yakima to Tri-Cities was one of the factors in the demise of the Yakima Mall. The loss of one customer hurts any business, even more a small business. The loss of 100 to 1,000 households hurts even larger chains, especially if there is no replacement household for the loss. The Yakima area now has almost every major retailer that is in the Tri-Cities and soon will have Harbor Freight and Winco. All of the major stores are easy to get to. There are a multitude of small businesses just as there are in Kennewick/Richland, all supporting the owners and their employees. Medical and professional services are fully available.

Do the previous paragraphs describe the best or ideal solutions? No, they do not! But, they do relate a very viable, probable scenario.

The best solutions -- leave the county seat in Prosser; request that the county commissioners meet only once in Prosser (per law) and hold the balance of their meetings in Kennewick at facilities already in place; allow Board of Equalization meetings in each of the towns/communities in the county -- Plymouth, Paterson, Benton City, West Richland, Richland, Prosser and Kennewick; and respect and honor the State Supreme Court ruling in reference to Superior Courts.

The harmony and loyalty among the people within Benton County should not be allowed to be destroyed or negated for the self-aggrandizement of one person or a few persons.

--Allan Korvola, Prosser

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