Former utility chief in charge of merging 2 county agencies

March 03, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

The former head of the nation's seventh-largest utility is supervising the consolidation of the county's Public Works and Utilities departments and is the front-runner to head the combined agency, county officials said.

John M. Brusnighan, 54, a resident of Severna Park, is working under a 4 1/2 -month, $41,000 contract with the county to devise a plan by July 1 to consolidate the departments. He worked for the Laurel-based Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, the nation's seventh-largest utility, from 1960 until 1985, and as its general manager from 1983 to 1985.

Combining Public Works and Utilities is a major part of County Executive Robert R. Neall's government reorganization, which is expected to trim about 250 jobs from the work force and save up to $10 million. The two were once one agency, but were separated in 1983 due to management problems in the Utilities Department.

Tom Neel, who was credited with transforming the county's troubled Utilities Department into an agency with a national reputation for efficiency and service, was asked to resign in January by Mr. Neall as part of the reorganization. Parker Andrews, the director of public works, also was asked to resign.

Mr. Neel has since been hired as president of Wheelabrator EOS, a Hampton, N.H.-based subsidiary of solid waste disposal giant Wheelabrator.

Neall spokeswoman Louise Hayman said that in consolidating the departments, the county executive decided not to turn to the two men who had built them up. Instead, he wanted to bring in someone who could dispassionately take the two existing departments and combine them.

Mr. Brusnighan "is well-qualified to come in and reorganize an existing structure," Ms. Hayman said. "He's got a whole range of experience for coming into an existing organization and transforming it for a new environment."

Central Services Director Jerome W. Klasmeier had been asked by Mr. Neall to head the new Public Works Department, but decided to remain at his current job. As a result, Mr. Brusnighan is considered the favored candidate for the new post, although he has not received a formal offer, Ms. Hayman said.

Mr. Brusnighan graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. Since leaving the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in 1985, he has served as vice president of EFI Actuaries, a public-sector, employee-benefits consulting firm. He has also served as a consultant to the World Bank.

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