Owens shuffles county staff

Administrative chief will coordinate special projects

November 01, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

In a surprise move, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens reshuffled the top of her administrative Cabinet yesterday, chalking up the changes to economic development issues and reinvigorating slumping tax revenues.

Effective today, chief administrative officer Jerome W. Klasmeier, who has led the county's nonelected governmental hierarchy for the past three years, will assume a new role as special projects coordinator, Owens said.

Klasmeier, who has more than 35 years of public service with the state and county, will concentrate on redeveloping the former David Taylor Research Center in Annapolis, school construction and an extensive housing initiative at Fort Meade, officials said.

Taking over for Klasmeier, in a move that surprised many at county government headquarters in Annapolis, will be John M. Brusnighan, the former director of public works, who was set to retire yesterday.

Neither Klasmeier nor Brusnighan could be reached for comment late yesterday. Salary information was unavailable.

Owens praised both men.

She said that Klasmeier is "the best project manager in Anne Arundel County" and that his "vast experience" is needed to ensure the timely completion of important economic projects.

Owens said Brusnighan has strong organizational skills and extensive knowledge of the inner workings of county government. She said she has asked her new administrative officer to re-examine available resources in light of a drop in tax revenue.

Word of the changes spread quickly yesterday afternoon. County Council members heard about it from their aides, and other department heads got information from colleagues on the fourth floor, where Owens' offices are situated.

"When he first took the job as chief administrative officer, he did it with some reluctance," Del. Michael E. Busch, an Annapolis Democrat, said of Klasmeier. Busch, who also works in the county's Department of Recreation and Parks, said Klasmeier "much preferred doing the special projects, and he has always been a very good manager of projects."

Projects Klasmeier has shepherded recently include the development and construction of Arundel Mills, the Jennifer Road Detention Center and the renovation of the Circuit Courthouse. He has also been a key figure in negotiations with the Navy on the transfer of the former research center to a private developer.

Klasmeier has held jobs under four county executives, including Owens. He was deputy secretary of the state Department of General Services from 1977 to 1991. From 1968 to 1974, he was an analyst in the county budget office and was chief of the Bureau of Administration in the Department of Public Works.

In another switch, Owens announced that Robert H. Hergenroeder, assistant to the chief administrative officer, will take a job with Arundel Community Development Services, a county agency that deals with housing issues.

Taking over for Hergenroeder will be Walter N. Chitwood, the director of inspections and permits. Chitwood has worked for the county since the early 1970s. He was chief administrative officer under County Executive Robert R. Neall.

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