The board of county commissioners is the county's legislative authority. Benton County is one of the 34 out of 39 Washington State
counties that follow the commissioner form of government. The
commissioners serve as the chief administrators for several important
county operations and have some quasi-judicial duties, as well.
three county commissioners in each county are elected to four-year
terms. The county is divided into three districts on the basis of
population and at the time of election, each commissioner must live in
and represent his/her district. The commissioners are partisan and are
nominated in a primary election embracing only their particular
district. All the voters in the county are given an opportunity in the
general election to select the commissioner who will ultimately serve.
rules devised by each board, the commissioners meet at such frequency
and at such locations as deemed necessary, and a chair is elected to
preside over these meetings.
As administrators, commissioners are responsible for:
- Public roads and public works programs
- Public health services
- Planning and zoning of unincorporated areas
- Emergency services or civil defense programs
- County park and recreation systems
- Other services and programs which are not clearly the responsibility of another elected county official
County commissioners have a key role in a wide variety of community boards and commissions which affect citizens within and even beyond their jurisdictions. Commissioners often serve on a variety of multi-county boards (such as library and health), with other public officials, to direct public policy. Within the county structure, commissioners are also responsible for adopting members of county boards and commissions (such as parks and planning).
In their judicial capacity, the commissioners
are often called upon as the first level of appeal to sit in judgment of
decisions made by other county officials. Rezoning recommendations from the
planning commission, for instance, are appealed to the commissioners for
review. The commissioners can sit as a Board of Equalization to review property
assessments established by the county assessor, which are disputed by property