Thomas C. Andrews, Anne Arundel County's land-use and environment officer, has accepted the job of county manager for Fulton County, Ga., pending completion of a written contract.
Andrews sent a letter of acceptance to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners yesterday and will visit the area this weekend, he said. He may begin his new job in mid-November, but his wife, a teacher, will probably finish the school year here, he said.
"I'm looking forward to the career advancement opportunity this presents," said Andrews, 57, who was chief administrative officer to former Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary before heading the Department of Public Works and Department of Planning and Code Enforcement as land-use officer. "I was not looking to leave Anne Arundel County, but this was something I couldn't pass up."
Andrews, who earned $94,671 a year as land-use officer, will be paid $160,000 annually in his new position, plus $12,000 for serving on the board of the Atlanta-Fulton Recreation Authority, said Josh Kenyon, chief of staff for Mike Kenn, the commissioners' chairman. He will be the highest paid county manager in the state's history, Kenyon said.
The commissioners approved the contract Wednesday after almost a week of negotiations. Andrews also will receive the use of a county automobile, four weeks of vacation, and health and pension benefits.
"I think the commissioners all agreed it was worth it, because they needed to get someone on board," Kenyon said. "They liked his broad background."
County Executive Janet S. Owens said she has discussed the job opportunity with Andrews and thinks it will be a good career move.
"Tom is extremely knowledgeable about land-use and environmental issues," Owens said. "He will be missed."
With a population of 786,100, Fulton County is the largest and richest county in the Southeast. Andrews will oversee its nearly $1 billion budget and manage more than 6,000 employees.
Kenyon said Andrews will face a projected budget shortfall for next year of at least $35 million and growth problems, such as an overcrowded county jail. The Atlanta jail has a capacity for 2,200 inmates but 3,800 are housed there now.
"There's a lot of challenges down here," Kenyon said. "It should be exciting."
Andrews was the commissioners' second choice to be Fulton's top administrator. After a three-month search that yielded four candidates, the commissioners offered the position to Teree L. Caldwell-Johnson, manager of Polk County in Iowa, who declined based on salary considerations.
Robert Regus, the last permanent county manager, earned $134,533 before being fired in November 1998, Kenyon said. Regus was replaced by Cecelia Corbin Hunter, acting deputy county manager, Kenyon said. Regus' predecessor, John Stanford, earned $142,000, annually.
The seven commissioners voted unanimously Oct. 6 to offer the county manager position to Andrews, who had begun looking for other employment when Owens, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Gary in November.
Andrews' 30 years in government include five years as director of administration for the state Department of Natural Resources and four years as the county's health officer. He has a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master of science degree in natural resources administration from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
As health officer, Andrews said his achievements include establishing a program to provide low-cost health insurance for the under-insured in the county. And, as land-use officer, he said he is most proud of his success with stream restoration projects.
In Andrews' years during Gary's administration, two county matters involving land developers had been the subject of scrutiny.
Andrews was subpoenaed March 16 to testify about the county's relocation of a proposed road last year. The FBI and the Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission were investigating whether the road change was to help developers planning a retail and housing complex.
And, while he was chief administrative officer, county officials came under fire for granting developer Jay Winer and land-use lawyer Fred Delavan, a discounted lease for a cellular phone tower.