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Court could decide on government center

"Responding to a request from the city of Port Orchard, the Kitsap County Commissioners agreed Monday, June 25, to seek a court ruling about the proposed $33 million Bremerton government center.At issue is whether Port Orchard's status as Kitsap County seat is threatened by the county's proposed expansion plans. The plan calls for relocating 254 county employees and some county administrative offices from Port Orchard to a new building in Bremerton. We agree that a declaratory action concerning the location of county offices and activities could be useful, Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen said in a letter to city officials. The commissioners' letter also defined four conditions to the county's participation in the court action. Port Orchard city officials were to discuss those conditions at a council meeting Monday, June 25 (the meeting was conducted after the Reporter went to press). The city has until Friday, June 29, to make a decision. The commissioners agreed to participate in the process only if the city and county both promise to abide by the judge's or arbiter's decision. The idea is to avoid a potentially expensive appeals process.Other conditions included agreeing exactly what the judge or arbiter can rule on; agreeing on a timeframe, no more than 90 days, in which to submit questions to a judge; and agreeing to move quickly to find a judge.Commissioner Jan Angel, who represents both Port Orchard and parts of Bremerton, has publicly stated she won't support the project until the county seat question is resolved.The county commissioners also want to maintain a good relationship with the city in which they work.We want to work with Port Orchard and keep the lines of communication open, said Endresen, saying the effort also could prevent future lawsuits.Included in a study that details the economic impact the move would have on Port Orchard is a list of county offices that could be relocated. They included the county commissioners, auditor, assessor, treasurer and prosecutor's offices. "

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