Annapolis loses director of public works to Prince George’s County – Capital Gazette

Outgoing Director of the Department of Public Works, Michael Johnson, will be difficult for the City of Annapolis to replace.

Not because he did a stellar job — although City Manager David Jarrell is quick to point out that “Mike was great” — but because there are so few qualified candidates in the job market.

“We were lucky to have Mike when we did it,” Jarrell said. ” It was two years ago. Now it will be even harder to find someone.

Johnson joined the city staff in June 2020 from Gaithersburg in Montgomery County. He will leave in early June to become Director of Public Works in Prince George’s County.

“It’s moving forward in the world, in the public works world,” Jarrell said of Johnson’s promotion to a broader jurisdiction.

As director of public works in Annapolis, Johnson set up an annual budget of $21 million and was responsible for garbage and recycling collection, street maintenance, clean water, sewers and storm sewers, as well as supervision of engineering and construction projects. Johnson’s annual salary was $176,028.

Jarrell praised Johnson for maintaining all of those city functions during the pandemic. Logistical challenges ranged from social distancing at job sites to sanitizing snowplows after each driver.

The goal was not just to protect the health of employees, but to recognize that the city could not function if half of the 108 public works employees suddenly fell ill.

“Mike handled it all really well,” Jarrell said.

Director of public works is the fourth high-level vacancy at Annapolis in recent months. Former planning and zoning director Sally Nash left to work in Baltimore County in November. His replacement Michael La Place starts on Monday.

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Mayor’s chief of staff Gavin Buckley retired last month after four years. Cate Pettit, who worked on Buckley’s campaign, took over on April 23.

Another department head, former transportation director Rick Gordon, retired last year. His replacement has not yet been named.

This marks the second time Jarrell has sought his own replacement. He arrived in Annapolis in 2010 and served as director of public works for a decade before being promoted to city manager in 2020.

The search will be national, Jarrell said, and will include outreach through trade organizations such as the International City/County Management Association. Although top colleges like the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland train hundreds of civil engineers each year, most are drawn to the construction side of the industry and don’t want to get caught up in it. occupy “the concrete side”. public works,” including waste management, Jarrell said.

National trends identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reinforce its concerns. Construction jobs are almost back to their pre-pandemic peakswith “civil and heavy engineering jobs” up 5% over the past year.

“It’s really hard to hire seasoned public works managers,” Jarrell said.

According to a job offer from May 3, the ideal candidate will be a licensed engineer with at least five years of experience in public works. And on the personality side of things, “he/she will be willing to take on challenging projects with a ‘can do’ attitude, and remain open to change.” The job pays up to $176,000 and is open until filled.

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