Howard DPW Director, Finance Director to Retire After 75 Years of Collective Public Service

  • As reported by Kevin Kinnally, MaCo

Jim and Janet Irvin to retire after 75 years of collective public service.

Howard County’s Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Jim Irvin and his wife, Finance Director Janet Irvin, this week announced their retirement effective June 30, 2020, after 75 years of collective public service.

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Jim and Janet Irvin with former Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman in 2015.

Jim Irvin has worked for Howard County since 1975 and has served as the director of BPW since 1989. Janet Irvin has served as the director of Finance since January 2018. Her 30+ years of public service include 20 years with Howard County Government and the Howard County Public School System.

“Janet and Jim are the definitions of public servants, and their expertise and presence will be sorely missed in Howard County,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “The strength of a good leader is longevity, any organization is stronger when they have stability at the top, and for the DPW Jim has been that stability. For 45 years, Jim Irvin has dedicated his life to serving the residents and making sure Howard County’s public works infrastructure is robust and reliable.”

“Janet’s depth of knowledge and expertise as a public servant has not gone unnoticed in Howard County,” said Ball. “It has been a true pleasure to serve alongside someone who has been such a great steward of our tax-payers and set an example for jurisdictions across the nation.”

As director of DPW, Jim Irvin was instrumental in bringing single-stream recycling to the County, which led to a major increase in recycling participation rates. Additionally, Jim provided leadership in overseeing emergency response operations during several major weather events including blizzards, snowstorms, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, derecho, and a train derailment in Ellicott City. He has been a critical member of the County’s emergency response and recovery efforts, including the 2016 and 2018 Ellicott City floods.

“The years of service to the citizens of Howard County have been an honor and privilege,” said Jim Irvin. “I would like to thank all the county executives that have afforded me this great opportunity. Most importantly, I would like to acknowledge and thank the many dedicated, hardworking, and professional employees in the Department of Public Works who made Howard County a better place to live and work.” and Janet Irvin with former Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman in 2015.

Several former county executives praised Jim Irvin’s leadership and dedication to county government:

“I was County Executive in 1975 when Jim Irvin was hired as an engineer,” said Dr. Ed Cochran, former County Executive. “Engineers make great Directors because they can separate politics from how and where public infrastructure should be built.  Jim has been a stabilizing force and served Howard County with distinction over his long career.”

“I believe promoting Jim Irvin to be the director of the Department of Public Works in Howard County was one of my wisest decisions as County Executive,” said Liz Bobo, former County Executive. “His deep dedication to hard work, wise and sometimes courageous decisions, all the while respecting others, served the residents of our county well. I wish Jim and his wife, Janet, a happy retirement.”

“Howard County was fortunate to have Jim Irvin in Public Works for the last 45 years,” said Jim Robey, former County Executive. “During my 40 years with Howard County Government, I got to know and work with Jim, proudly more than any other county official, he is extremely intelligent, caring, and was an absolute pleasure to work with.”

“Jim provided steady, thoughtful leadership through decades of growth of the county, and I counted on him for guidance and advice to ensure our county infrastructure enhanced our quality of life,” said former County Executive Ken Ulman. “From our commitment to sustainable infrastructure in transportation, water and sewer, county facilities and so much more, Jim took the lead in delivering quality projects on behalf of the citizens and businesses of Howard County and he is a significant reason for our nationally known quality of life.”

“I could always count on Jim Irvin to be honest even when he knew that his words would be difficult to hear,” said former County Executive Allan Kittleman. “Jim was tested so many times during my time as County Executive, recovering from two historic floods, building a new courthouse, and preserving Harriet Tubman School, but Jim never wavered and everyone in Howard County benefited from his leadership. Jim has such a quiet demeanor and his colleagues fondly know him as a man of few words, but his accomplishments speak volumes.”

In addition to her county service, Janet Irvin has over 10 years of service with the State of Maryland, serving as a chief financial officer for the Maryland Environmental Service and a deputy director for MDOT’s State Highway Administration.

In administering the County’s financial affairs, she oversaw the annual collection of over $1.5 billion of state and local revenues, ensured the custody and safekeeping of funds and securities in excess of $2 billion, maintained control over $1.5 billion of commitments and disbursements on the basis of budgetary appropriations and allotments, preserved the County’s triple AAA bond rating, and ensured the security of over $3.3 billion of County assets.

“It’s been an honor to serve the citizens of Howard County,” said Janet Irvin. “With a budget of $8.7 million, the 60 professionals in Finance and I have been able to accomplish so much: winning various industry, national, and international awards for innovation and excellence, working to change State laws to increase revenue collections by eliminating unnecessary fees, and exploring new and innovative financing for the County’s long-term needs, just to name a few. They’re a remarkable group, and I look to them to continue their great work.”

Angela Price will serve as acting director of Finance and Tom Meunier will serve as acting director of DPW.

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