(Kennewick, WA) -- It's been a headache. Benton County says ever since they closed on buying the old Kennewick General Hospital to convert it into an in-patient treatment and mental health recovery center, it's been subject to increasingly severe break-ins and vandalism. It was on November 1st, that Benton County closed escrow on the purchase of the old Kennewick General Hospital property and other buildings off 900 South Auburn St. in Kennewick. Since they took possession of the facility, county administrators report $12,000 in flood damage resulting from cut water pipes, 15 broken windows, 5 broken doors, destruction of numerous fixtures, significant clean-up costs from fire extinguishers being inappropriately discharged, and almost daily overtime costs for staff to respond to issues after hours.

The Damage Is Extensive

The county, in a press release says there is evidence that more piping is being removed from the building. The county says that is expensive and time-consuming to replace. At the County Commission meeting Tuesday, Commissioners heard that every time a break-in happened, it was a drain on Kennewick's Police, Fire and public works departments. The County administrator says facilities staff needs help. In response, commissioners declared a state of emergency to cut through some rules on funding. The normal contracting procedures that would normally be required to fund the help they need would likely take more than 30 days, with an estimate of approximately $3,000-$4,000 a day in damage. An emergency declaration would allow the county to bypass that. The Board agreed and declared an emergency, and waived the competitive bidding requirements related to boarding up windows and securing doors at KGH

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