Jim Harkins, MES Director & Former MACo President to Retire

Jim Harkins, Maryland Environmental Service’s (MES) Director, recently announced his retirement. Mr. Harkins served as MACo President in 2004 when he was Harford County Executive.

MES Director Jim Harkins

According to MES’ Facebook announcement,

From Jim Harkins, Director, Maryland Environmental Service:

To everything there is a season and so it is for me as well. Today I am announcing my retirement as the Director of the Maryland Environmental Service (MES). Almost eleven years ago Governor Robert Ehrlich appointed me to lead this great organization. There were about 400 employees then and MES had operating losses of over two million dollars per year.

Those first couple of years were very difficult. With the help of a great team of employees we were able to turn those dark days around. We established a solid business plan to set the tone for our renaissance. For the past eight years, MES has steadily grown. Last year, we hit 8% higher than our projected budget returns. This year we are 10% above even that. Those numbers mean budget savings to our customers: state, county and municipal governments. That translates to lower taxes for Maryland citizens.

Our workforce of 400 has more than doubled, to 850 employees. Make no mistake, these great numbers are a direct result of the tremendous work ethic of the MES employees. They genuinely care and strive to improve the environment of our state. I am proud to have been their leader for these many years; they are amazing!

Our Water and Wastewater Division has assisted numerous cities, towns and state agencies with the upgrading and the water quality improvement of the 220 plants we run across the state. The result is a cleaner Chesapeake Bay.

The Environmental Operations Group has built, then began operating single stream recycling plants and new solid waste operations. They’ve helped counties all over the state improve their recycling rates. Our Midshore Landfill on the Eastern Shore won the “Oscar for Solid Waste”, the Solid Waste Association of North America’s Gold Award. Our Ops group once again saved county tax payers millions in tax dollars.

Our Technical and Environmental Services Group saved more tax dollars for State Agencies through their work with the Maryland Port Administration. Shipping channels can’t stay clear without dredging, and dredging can’t happen without a place to put the dredged material. Our team planned and managed environmentally friendly, and citizen friendly, dredged material containment sites. They turned Harbor muck into beautiful bird-filled sanctuaries visited by thousands of citizens each year. Similar savings were achieved for the Maryland Aviation Administration, State Highways, and the Transportation Authority. It all contributed to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay.

We established an Environmental Compliance Unit to ensure our own high levels of quality. We worked smarter with improved computer technology and the latest GIS equipment.

During my tenure, I worked for three Maryland Governors: Robert Ehrlich, Martin O’Malley, and Larry Hogan. I want to thank each of them for their confidence in my leadership. Hopefully, we moved the environmental ball forward.

As many of you know my wife Debbie retired a few years ago. Our two daughters, Andrea and Stephanie, are now grown and have each become very successful in their careers. We also now have two grandsons, Grant and Emory, who are the love of our lives. It is my hope to join Debbie in spending more time with them and our family. I also plan on working on my bucket list of travel plans, (some of that on two wheels).

The recent death of my former Harford County Sheriff’s Department colleagues has reminded us all how short life really is. So it is with a whole lot of pride that I say thank you. It has been one amazing ride!

Mr. Harkins currently serves as a member of the State Retirement and Pension System’s Board of Trustees. There, he represents the Participating Government Units, the county and municipal governments who opt to use the state pooled plan for their pension offerings.

Harkins’ retirement will be effective March 15, 2016. MACo wishes him the best in future endeavors.