Former Mount Airy Mayor Linda R. Boyer took over the county's only publicly financed mass-transit agency in April without having to go through an application process.
But now that Boyer is nearing the end of her six-month, $1,000-a-month assignment, she may end up having to apply for the job.
Boyer, 45, became director of Carroll Transit Agency just months after losing her bid for a seat on the Frederick County Board of Commissioners. Her appointment to the post came at the invitation of several board members rather than as the result of an advertised job search.
As a private, non-profit company, Carroll Transit legally doesnot have to put the director's job out for competitive bid, even though more than 90 percent of its $470,000 annual budget comes from county, state and federal tax dollars, the state attorney general's office said.
With her contract expiring next month, Boyer is not sure what's in store for her.
"I don't think it's fair to the board to announce any decisions before consulting them," she said. "I don't know if they're going to extend my current contract or whether they're going to offer more money for the job."
Carroll Transit's board ofdirectors meets Wednesday morning, at which time Boyer expects them to discuss what to do with the director's post, which since its creation about four years ago has been filled on a contractual basis.
In addition to deciding whether to extend Boyer's contract, the board could decide to increase her pay, to make her a full-time director orto open up the job to applicants.
Boyer did not rule out applyingfor her present job if it were opened.
"It's up to the board," she said.
The board contacted Boyer shortly after her most recent political defeat last November, she and board members said. After meeting with the board, she was offered a six-month contract.
Boyer replaced three-year director Charles Nason, after the 12-member board decided not to renew his $24,000-a-year contract.
The job was advertised and bid when Nason was hired.
The lack of a search before Boyer became director, however, prompted some to question her ability torun the 25-employee, 16-vehicle transit system.
"The question I would have as a taxpayer is, 'By not advertising, did we get the best-qualified person for the job?' " said Barbara Darneal, chairman of the Mount Airy Citizens Coalition, a group critical of Boyer while she was mayor of the town. "Carroll Transit owes its existence to tax dollars, and that's what brings my interest."
Nonetheless, legal experts say, the company can hire or fire its chief operating officer in any way it sees fit.
"This certainly is not the brightest way to do this," Nason said. "Whether it was a matter of the board having a new broom and wanting to sweep everything clean, the job should have been advertised."
Nason's contract was not renewed, he and board members said, because the board disagreed with where he was taking Carroll Transit.
"We want to provide a wide range of services," said Charles O. Fisher Jr., a board member since 1988.
Nason believed the agency should stick closer to its roots -- it is formally still called Senior Overland Service Inc. -- and provide mostly transportationfor home-bound senior citizens.
Fisher said that before Boyer washired, the board was about to advertise for the position.
"We were about to take applicants when Linda more or less was tapped for thejob," he said.
Nason -- who was the first director when Carroll Transit management was completely separated from county officials in 1988 -- said Fisher and the rest of the board could have averted some of the criticism being lodged against Boyer had they advertised for the job opening before hiring her.
"It certainly would have been a whole lot wiser," he said.
The job is not Boyer's first position in the transit industry. Between 1975 and 1978, she was a community developer with the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency in suburban Detroit.
As a community developer, Boyer worked on the start-up ofwhat is now called Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation in Pontiac, Mich. The authority provides transit service for the disabled, elderly and poor.