On Sunday, as a new county leader gets sworn into office in Anne Arundel, County Executive Robert R. Neall will become Citizen Neall.
No doubt he could have won re-election had he chosen to run again this year, but instead the man who cut spending by privatizing government agencies decided to privatize himself.
In the four years Mr. Neall served, he gave Anne Arundel a new philosophy of government -- one which his successor, fellow Republican John Gary, and the County Council's new Republican majority promise to continue.
The consummate bean-counter and political pro, Mr. Neall was not a visionary. But he had the mind and temperament perfectly suited to deal with the financial crises that confronted his jurisdiction.
He faced a recession that drained state and local revenues and he had to manage under the confines of a voter-imposed property tax cap. Mr. Neall responded by giving Anne Arundel "plain vanilla" government. He cut more than 400 positions, privatized government agencies and squeezed six county departments into three.
At times when he wielded his ax he seemed unable to empathize with county employees. He angered professional firefighters when he vetoed a retirement plan already enjoyed by police officers. And he alienated the legions of volunteer firefighters when he placed them under the supervision of the paid firefighters.
But while he may have seemed hard-hearted, no permanent government employee lost his or her job during his term. And Mr. Neall avoided cutting the government services that touch people's lives most directly.
He even increased funding in some areas. In his four years, he spent $121 million on school construction compared with $118 million spent during the previous eight years. He oversaw the start of construction of a new county courthouse and pushed to build a necessary, if controversial, new jail. He increased money to public libraries, expanded health services for poor children and initiated job training for parents who are delinquent on child-support payments.
We don't yet know the full impact of the cuts the Arundel executive imposed. But as he exits the public stage, Bobby Neall leaves a legacy of a leaner, more efficient government in the Arundel Center that still provides people the services they care most about.