Shifted official retires, stays on

Former county CAO signs contract for job as coordinator

Move secures his pension

November 11, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Jerome W. Klasmeier, the former Anne Arundel County chief administrative officer who was forced out of his position nearly two weeks ago and into a special projects role, has instead announced his retirement, retroactive to Nov. 1.

But that doesn't mean he's out of a county job. In a recent development, Klasmeier will continue working for the county as a special-projects coordinator through the end of December under a contract he signed with the county Thursday.

The arrangement was made after Klasmeier learned that the original offer of moving him to the position of special-projects coordinator on staff would have jeopardized his pension.

Under his new contract, Klasmeier, 61, said he will earn the same salary he did in his old job, an hourly wage equivalent to $111,275 a year. His new status will not affect his pension.

Klasmeier called his sudden retirement "frustrating."

"It's hard for me to describe it," Klasmeier said recently, referring to a legal glitch that apparently triggered his last-minute retirement.

He said he was "confounded" when he heard about the reassignment Oct. 31. He stepped down as CAO that day. He was replaced the next day by former Public Works Director John M. Brusnighan. "You can't get mad; it is what it is," he said.

Still, Klasmeier is taking no chances. He said he made sure that County Auditor Teresa Sutherland, who works independently of County Executive Janet S. Owens' administration, reviewed the new contract before he signed it.

Council members said that they too expect to hear from Sutherland. They said they want to be certain Owens and her new CAO are being fair to Klasmeier.

"It is entirely normal for [Sutherland] to track changes in appointed officials," said council member John J. Klocko III, a Republican from Crofton. "Historically, it has been an area of great abuse, which is to say that usually job changes work in [officials'] favor. This seems to be in the reverse of that."

Under the original plan offered two weeks ago, Klasmeier would have served as special projects coordinator until the end of the year and then as a consultant until June 30.

County spokesman Matt Diehl blamed Klasmeier's retirement on complex personnel rules that would have made it impossible for him to maintain his current salary while serving as special projects coordinator on staff.

Said Diehl: "It was an oversight, but it was caught and it has been rectified."

Klasmeier's prospects for acounty job after the end of this year are unclear.

A consulting contract for beyond Dec. 31 has yet to be signed.

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