Save the Date:
March 20, 2012
Place: Bellingham High School
Why: Whatcom County Taxpayers are throwing a “pre-scoping” party for the Gateway Pacific Terminal!
Despite the fact that Whatcom County has not received completed applications for the Gateway Pacific Terminal, County staff are working very diligently to make sure that Gateway Pacific’s delay doesn’t cause Gateway Pacific any delay.
Gateway Pacific has until March 19 to submit its applications to the County. The County will officially roll out its environmental impact assessment process on March 20, the very next day. Yee Haw!
Whatcom County must have a crystal ball! It can tell already that this version of the application will be complete and ready for scoping!
This March 20 "pre-scoping" session is the culmination of more than a year of County staff work on behalf of the Gateway Pacific terminal. Read through the e-mails posted on the County web site, and you’ll get a sense of the County’s painstaking attention to this matter. Staff have been working with the state-sponsored Multiagency Permitting Team (the MAP team), staff have been working with the project applicant, staff have been working to make sure that the consultant team is ready to go.
Staff travel, staff meetings, staff communication, staff review. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of staff hours.
And who’s paying for staff time? Well, what a rude question.
But if we must talk about money -- it turns out that We the Taxpayers are footing the bill. After the first $2,625.00.
Gateway Pacific’s payment for the preparation of the environmental impact statement is limited, by the County’s fee schedule, to $2,625. That covers about 20 hours of staff time. Everything above and beyond that time is a gift from all of us to all of them. SSA Marine, Goldman Sachs, BNSF. . . .
After all, they need the money more than we do.
It used to be that the County’s fee schedule charged applicants $100 per hour for all staff time in excess of 20 hours. But the County amended its fee schedule last year to eliminate those hourly payments (which other counties do charge). (And of course, Whatcom County charges for staff time for many smaller projects that go across the permit desk.)
So – we should all make sure to attend this “pre-scoping” party, since we’re paying for all of the County staff time that has gone into planning and preparing for it. Party down!
Oh -- and if you want SSA Marine to help pay for the party, think about contacting County Executive Jack Louws. He can change the fee schedule. So can the County Council.
For the memo setting the date of the scoping session, see this set of e-mails at page 33.