Now we have some emails from that time. They show that, rather than give an independent assessment of the costs, Henley engages in group think with other members of the County echo chamber to provide a reply that is less than honest.
The County puts more time and effort into crafting non-answers than answers. And where is the Patty Miller who believes,
We must find a balance between adopting regulations that comply with the state law and protect the critical areas, are enforceable, and are as simple as possible but yet allow property owners the maximum flexibility to use their property as they see fit"... because the Patty Miller who believes that has not been showing up at Council meetings.
From: Milene Henley <Mileneh@sanjuanco.com>
Date: March 27, 2012 9:25:36 AM PDT
To: Patty Miller <PattyM@sanjuanco.com>
Subject: RE: CAO
I definitely would not have quoted you, even without your admonition. This is clearly a politically sensitive matter. I had already considered the fact that planning and permitting (other than county long-term planning) are supposed to be fee-supported. The clear implication is that the people developing their land will pay for implementation of CAO. But I agree that we need to think this thing through, and to understand better what those costs are likely to be, before we discuss this publicly.
And yes, Mr. Lackey definitely has a point of view, as do most people on the subject of CAO. And I know that you, of all Council members, will be measured, rational and balanced in your approach to adoption. It is a responsibility I do not envy you.
I will take your, Pete's, and Rene's responses to my email and synthesize them into a responsible reply to Mr. Lackey. And I will share that reply with you before I send it out.
F. Milene Henley
San Juan County Auditor
From: Patty Miller
Sent: Tue 3/27/2012 9:16 AM
To: Milene Henley; Pete Rose; Rene Beliveau
Subject: RE: CAO
Pete and Rene may disagree with me but I believe the answer is that the cost associated with implementing the new CAO will be borne by the applicants wishing to develop their property. The permitting department is essentially budgeted as a zero cost budget. Permit fees are adjusted to reflect the cost of processing those permits. I expect that there will be some initial costs in terms of time and training but I do not expect those to be significant.
HAVING SAID THAT PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THAT ANSWER AS ONE THAT IS GIVEN WITHOUT SIGNFICANT CONCERN AS TO THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THAT ANSWER. PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD THAT ANSWER AS A QUOTE FROM ME WITHOUT INCLUDING THE ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS. I am confident that this statement will show up on every blog, newspaper, and public opinion piece on the topic very quickly. For that reason I do not want it to be taken out of context or implied that I said it flippantly, without significant concern, or stated that I am resigned to it.
In my opinion this will be the greatest challenge that the council will face as we begin our review of the proposed amendments. We must find a balance between adopting regulations that comply with the state law and protect the critical areas, are enforceable, and are as simple as possible but yet allow property owners the maximum flexibility to use their property as they see fit. Whether or not that would be best accomplished through a redlined version of the existing regulations or a new version that incorporates both the existing and new solutions is subjective.
I disagree entirely with Mr. Lackey statement that the "current mindset will be to pass this wetlands section as soon as possible". I find this process entirely frustrating but one that I have to work within where the body that is ultimately responsible for the decision is the last to see and comment on the proposed changes and we are attacked for "micro managing" if we get too involved too early in the process. I have every intention of taking the time we need to try to develop the best ordinance we can, given the need to achieve the balance I mention above. I just want to get started on it.....
From: Milene Henley
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 8:15 AM
To: Pete Rose; Rene Beliveau; Patty Miller
Subject: FW: CAO
Hi, Pete, Patty & Rene,
I'm forwarding to you an email I received today, following a phone call yesterday. John Lackey, a local real estate agent, is the sender.
John's question has to do with the cost of CAO, after it is adopted. He asked me, specifically, if any thought has been given to budgeting for the interpretation, implementation, and defense of CAO once adopted. The defense--assuming there will be lawsuits--seems the most difficult to "budget" for. But I would distill part of his question down to: do we expect the issuance of permits to be more time-consuming than currently, once CAO is adopted, and have we given thought to how we will budget for that additional expense, if we expect it.
I would like to be able to give John an answer to his direct question - recognizing that his more general "rant" is unanswerable. Do we anticipate significant costs of implementation, and should we anticipate additional FTEs in the 2013 budget because of it?
F. Milene Henley
San Juan County Auditor
From: John Lackey [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tue 3/27/2012 8:05 AM
To: Milene Henley
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me yesterday. As you well know we are wrestling with the proposed CAO rewrites of the existing ordinance.
Aside from what I think about the proposals in front of us on the planning commission in regards to civil rights, property rights, the taking of property, I also have grave concerns as to how this whole situation is going to be budgeted. From what I hear off the record from some of the staff at planning, this is already becoming a nightmare. The possible wetlands map has included every mud puddle and manmade pond in the county. No one in a leadership position as far as I can tell has given the slightest inclination as to how this is going to handled once it becomes the law of the land.
Ultimately where does this responsibility lie? An even larger question that comes up is the cost to the county of defending itself when the lawsuits are filed. I am sorry if this has turned into a rant on my part, but this Friday there seems to be a very good chance that this mess is going to be passed along to the council where the current mindset will be to pass this wetlands section as soon as possible. I have no idea how you feel about the proposed rewrites, but I believe the unintended consequences are going to sink the county financially. Any thoughts you might share with me would be appreciated.