Baltimore budget official Raymond S. Wacks is returning to his former post as Howard County budget director Oct. 1, county officials planned to announce today.
In returning to his old job, Wacks will be the third county budget director since he left in 2005, completing a musical chairs-like rotation of suburban budget directors.
Wacks retired and took a position as director of the city's Bureau of Budget and Management Research in 2005. Replacing him then was a former Prince George's County schools budget official who stayed one year before returning to a budget post in that county. After Howard County Executive Ken Ulman took office last year, he appointed County Auditor Ron Weinstein as budget director in December. Weinstein said he is retiring Sept. 28.
Ulman said yesterday that he called Wacks and asked him to return and, after some thought, Wacks agreed.
"He thought fondly about the work he was doing in Baltimore, but he always valued Howard County," Ulman said during an interview at a fundraising picnic for Del. Elizabeth Bobo in Columbia.
"Mr. Ulman made a very persuasive case," Wacks said during a telephone interview from his home in Pikesville.
He said he looked forward to going back to Howard County. "I'm excited about it, and exciting things are happening in Howard County," Wacks said.
The decision had nothing to do with Baltimore, he said. "I've enjoyed working in the city, and I have a lot of respect for the people I'm working with, including Mayor Sheila Dixon," Wacks said.
Dixon spokesman Anthony McCarthy said the mayor intends to post the job and conduct a nationwide search to fill the position.
"We were lucky enough to find Ray Wacks," he said. "We're hoping to find someone of his caliber to fill this very important position."
A former Peace Corps volunteer and Baltimore sixth-grade teacher, Wacks started as an administrative assistant for Howard County in 1974. Three years later, he was named budget director.
The city job paid $115,000 when he was first hired, slightly more than what he had earned as county budget director.
He also remained a part of the state pension plan. As a result, he receives a state pension of about $61,000 a year, according to news reports.
Weinstein, an Ellicott City resident who was Howard County's auditor for 21 years, said yesterday that he earned $141,000 as budget director.
Because the auditor works for the county's legislative branch, Weinstein knew Ulman, a former county councilman, and agreed to join his staff.
The position had been vacant since former schools budget director Jonathan Seeman, who had started in July 2005, returned to lead Prince George's County Office of Management and Budget last September.
Weinstein, also a former Prince George's budget official, decided to retire after completing Ulman's first budget. The budget director, who turns 61 next month, said he told Ulman about his decision at the beginning of the summer and promised to stay until a replacement could be hired.
"Ken and I both thought of Ray as a replacement. ... Ray and I have both worked together for years. It was just a good progression for him to come back," Weinstein said.