The Harford County Council had many cutting questions for Ben Lloyd, the prospective director of administration to replace Billy Boniface, at its Tuesday meeting, but the answers to many of their inquiries were the same: Go ask County Executive Barry Glassman.
Several members of the council grilled Lloyd on his qualifications for the job of running the county’s day-to-day operations and the impetus for his nomination to Boniface’s former position at a meeting on his potential permanent appointment.
Boniface was director of administration before moving into a role as Glassman’s top advisor, the administration announced in July. Lloyd has been acting director of administration for about two and a half months. He had been working as a senior budget analyst with the county.
Lloyd has ties to Boniface’s political committee. According to campaign finance disclosures, Lloyd was the treasurer of the committee, signing off on an annual report in 2019 and a finance report in 2006. He also served as Boniface’s campaign manager in 2006. He was not listed as the committee’s treasurer in 2020.
Boniface has made clear his intentions to run for county executive in 2022 but has not begun actively campaigning for the county executive spot.
Councilman Robert Wagner directly questioned Lloyd’s independence in one of his first salvos.
“I question your independence in the job only because of some … allegiances,” Wagner said to Lloyd.
Wagner also questioned the need for a change in staffing in the county executive’s office at a cost to taxpayers.
Boniface’s scheduled salary of $144,437 for the current fiscal year did not change in his new position, although it was almost $2,000 more than he earned in the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to county budget documents.
Lloyd, however, was scheduled to earn $125,000 in his new role, a roughly $19,000 salary bump.
Wagner said he did not see the point of reviving the position Boniface moved into, allowing Lloyd to fill the director of administration role.
“I do not find the benefit [taxpayers] are going to get out of that,” he said. “The Harford County charter was constructed with great thought … and any changes to it need to be carefully considered and scrutinized to prohibit the implementation of self-serving desires.”
Boniface, who sat in the gallery at Tuesday’s meeting, said the hearing was not about him and asked the council to confine their questions to Lloyd’s qualifications for the job and speak with the county executive about the appointment.
Addressing Boniface, Council President Patrick Vincenti asked what was the reasoning for the switch up.
“I would like you to give me some insight or explain why now after six years of being in office and midway through your last term, why the county executive decided to make this change?” Vincenti said. “Wherever I go out in the public, I am asked this question.”
Boniface suggested Vincenti talk with the Glassman. Lloyd suggested the same. Vincenti said he is scheduled to meet with the county executive on Monday.
Councilman Andre Johnson asked Lloyd if he would streamline communication between the council and departmental directors in county government, which can be a tedious back-and-forth. Lloyd said he would “look at and fix as necessary” the issue of slow communications between the council and department heads.
Boniface will still remain liaison to the council — their line of communication to county agencies.
Addressing the rest of the council, Johnson said he believed that their unanswered questions would need to be resolved before moving on the subject of Lloyd’s appointment. He noted that Glassman was not present to answer questions about the potential appointment.
“We have asked a lot of questions of Mr. Lloyd tonight that he or Mr. Boniface cannot answer and I think it is incumbent on us to have the person who can answer those questions sitting before us,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of issues, a lot of questions that we just cannot square.”
Councilman Tony Giangiordano noted that Glassman went directly to Lloyd to offer the job and did not consider his boss, Kimberly Spence, at the office of budget and efficiency for the position. Lloyd said he brought a diverse collection of skills to the table from his work across multiple disciplines, but said Giangiordano would have to ask Glassman why he was selected.
“I feel like what I bring to the table is a wide variety of experience and skills,” Lloyd said.
Though Lloyd faced tough questions from some councilmen, others lauded him as a good, qualified person for the job. Councilman Chad Shrodes said Lloyd was respectful and qualified, but, hearing comments from other council members, said he was “not going to get into the politics of all this.”
“I have known Ben for many years now, and I have the utmost confidence in you,” Shrodes said. “I know you are going to do an outstanding job if you are given this opportunity.”
Councilman Joseph Woods also said Lloyd was “clearly” qualified for the position, but expressed some doubts about the appointment. Councilman Curtis Beulah also wished Lloyd luck.
Vincenti said the council would consider Lloyd’s appointment and make a decision at its next meeting on Sept. 15.