Kenneth Mills will return to run the Baltimore County Revenue Authority nearly 20 years after he left the same position to work in the private sector.
Mills, director of business development for Baltimore-based Southway Builders, was hired Tuesday as the new chief executive of the authority at a salary higher than Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Mills will be replacing William "Lynnie" Cook, who left unexpectedly last month, and is expected to start in early April.
"(Mills) will be able to get off and running immediately," said Donald Hutchinson, chairman of the authority's board. "He's a nice guy, a strong leader and someone who understands this business."
Mills was a finalist along with Cook nearly three years ago when the authority sought to replace George Hale, who left to teach political science at Kutztown University.
"He was a candidate in our last search," Hutchinson said. "He was someone who, had 'Lynnie' not been working for us, we'd have hired him at the time. We were very excited two-and-a-half years ago to have two very qualified candidates for the job."
Cook announced his resignation last month. Prior to leaving, Cook and the agency had come under increased scrutiny following a free trip he accepted to an exclusive golf course and concerns about. The Maryland General Assembly is considering several pieces of legislation intended to address some of those issues.
The authority did not conduct a traditional candidate search, according to Hutchinson.
"We only had a handful (of applicants)," Hutchinson said. "We didn't do a search. There were four people who expressed an interest. We didn't advertise.
Instead, the board reached out to Mills to see if he was still interested in the position, said Hutchinson.
"There were also three other unidentified candidates—two who provided unsolicited resumes and one other from the previous applicant pool," he continued.
Mills was selected from that group but sources familiar with the selection said he was the.
Mills came to the agency as a deputy to the executive director in the 1981 when Hutchinson was county executive. By 1985, he was hired as the executive director, a position he held until 1993 when he left to become vice president of Oak Contracting.
He later served as vice president at Struever Bros., Eccles and Rouse for nine years and then nearly three years as vice president of the Mid-Atlantic region for JPB Enterprises, a real estate investment and development company.
Hutchinson said experience was an important factor given that the agency has been without a full-time executive for several weeks and the Towson Circle II project is continuing to move forward. He called Mills "someone who didn't need much training."
"We felt there was some urgency to hire the very best person we could," Hutchinson said. "It was clear the current arrangement was not going to be very efficient or last very long with me being here part-time."
Mills did not return a call to his Baltimore office from a reporter seeking comment.
Mills will make about $159,000—about $12,000 more than his predecessor and $9,000 more than Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. He will also have the use of a car the authority will lease on his behalf.
Hutchinson said the salary range was based on looking at comparable county department heads—primarily the heads of the Office of Budget and Finance and the Department of Public Works, who make $162,515 and $158,348, respectively.
"We took out the police department and took out the health department because they're higher," Hutchinson said.
The authority, which has about 100 employees including some part-time and seasonal workers, manages four Towson-area parking garages as well as metered spaces and lots around the county and five public golf courses and a skating rink. It is independent of the county goverment.
Total assets of the authority exceed $65 million.
The county executive appoints the five-member board but the agency does not receive any taxpayer money to support its budget.
By contrast, the Department of Public Works employs more than 800 workers following the retirement incentive offered earlier this year.Department Name Salary Office of Information Technology Robert Stradling $199,665 Permits, Approvals and Inspections Arnold Jablon $180,692 Fire John Hohman $175,950 Budget and Finance Keith Dorsey $162,515 Economic Development Dan Gundersen $162,514 Revenue Authority Kenneth Mills $159,000 Public Works Ed Adams $158,348 Corrections Jim O'Neill $151,150 Law Michael Field $150,582 Environmental Protection and Sustainability Vince Gardina $147,900 Aging Joanne Williams $143,953 Recreation and Parks Barry Williams $140,000 Human Resources George Gay $135,519 Planning Andrea Van Arsdale $129,490
In the end, Hutchinson said the salary was based on another criteria.
"It's what it took to hire him," Hutchinson said.