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CDPD Director Henrickson gone in 'reorganization' of county planning department

Ron Henrickson ... out as director of Community Development and Planning. - County of San Juan
Ron Henrickson ... out as director of Community Development and Planning.
— image credit: County of San Juan

San Juan County Administrator Pete Rose announced today that Ron Henrickson, director of Community Development and Planning, has "left the county’s staff" in a departmental reorganization.

The reorganization will move elements of CDPD into the County Administration and the Health and Community Services departments.

Henrickson’s position was eliminated. He was paid $91,523 a year.

“Ron was an experienced planner and was often able to offer me insights into the big picture on many issues in county administration,” Rose said in a press release issued by the county public information office.

Rose said re-aligning and streamlining the county government’s structure — which now includes 19 departments and offices on three islands — is a must, given the current economic situation and projected revenue shortfalls.

“We are under a mandate from the County Council to responsibly balance the 2010 budget while costs are going up and revenues are, at best, flat,” he said.

Last week, the council adopted a budget amendment cutting more than $900,000 from the $14 million 2009 current expense budget, but revenue projections indicate that another $500,000 to $600,000 will be needed to balance the 2010 budget.

The county administrator and the council have been studying the possibility of combining departments since the size of the projected revenue shortfall became obvious in April.

Rose said the plan for CDPD is to move its long-range planning wing into the County Administration office, over which he presides; and merge the inspection, permitting and other functions of the department with Health and Community Services.

The Health Department currently reviews plans, issues permits and performs inspections on water and septic systems in parallel with the CDPD’s building plan review and permitting. “I believe those functions will fit together well,” Rose said.

John Manning, director of Health and Community Services for 15 years, will oversee the transition to the new management structure.

“Once we made the decision, we acted quickly,” Rose said, adding he did not want the process to drag on in light of the difficult issues facing county planners. Among those challenges is a docket of proposed changes to the county’s Unified Development Code, including updates to the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance – which has become a battleground issue.

Henrickson came to the department in December 2005 with more than 20 years of experience as a planner and county administrator, including four years as administrator and director of community development for Mason County. During his tenure here, the department’s long-range planning function was re-established and several major projects, including plans for the Rosario Resort, the Deer Harbor Hamlet and Orcas Village, which had languished for years, were revived and completed.

He also struggled with highly controversial issues in order to move San Juan County toward compliance with the requirements of the Washington Growth Management Act. That work is now done, and in the fall the county hopes to be found in GMA compliance for the first time in many years.

CDPD employees were informed of Henrickson’s departure in a staff meeting shortly after 8 a.m. today.

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