County admin director retires

Kitsap County will lose a valuable resource this spring when Administrative Services Director Ben Holland retires.

“I love this job,” he said. “I like the people who work for me and I like the people I work for. I think I’ve done some good things, keeping the board informed about the budget. But retiring at this time has always been my long-term plan.”

Holland, 62, was hired in 2004 in his current position. Previously he was Kitsap County budget manager from 1994 to 2000.

In between his county stints, he was the director of the Port of Brownsville.

Holland gave an extended notice to give the county commissioners a chance to hire a replacement. The hiring process will probably include a redefinition of the job itself.

“Ben does so much,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer. “It really is hard to capture it all. He has an encyclopedic memory, and when he is gone all of this will be lost. In addition to this, there is all the work he has done with the systems and bringing the budget together. I don’t know how he managed to do the whole thing.”

Bauer said the commissioners would reorganize and redefine the job.

In his current job Holland spearheaded and organized the budget cutting process, which required each county department to cut a certain amount of full-time employees.

Throughout, the county cut $4 million and submitted the first balanced budget in more than a decade.

The job wasn’t done, and the county will need to make significant additional cuts during the next budget cycle.

While Holland’s systems will stay in place someone else will be in the driver’s seat this year.

“He did a great job implementing the cuts,” said Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn. “He showed that each department has its responsibilities. It is always tough to cut positions, but he delivered the message with sincerity, fairness and evenhandedness.

“He is a hardworking person who really strives to get the clear messages out,” Flynn said. “He is an extraordinary public servant.”

Prior to the budget crisis Holland developed a Power Point presentation titled “Property Tax 101” that explained how taxes were collected and spent.

He gave the presentation at several public meetings and to any civic group that asked.

“Ben worked hard to educate the public,” said Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery. “He has been very generous in giving to different community groups, and helped to get the point across that the county doesn”t get all of the property tax money.”

Avery said Holland’s presentations were valuable, since they allowed attendees to develop more informed opinions.

Holland and Avery made an agreement in 2005 that they would shave their heads if the county met its United Way goal.

After the money was raised the hair was shorn in a public ceremony, presided by Avery’s hairstylist wife.

Holland said he has no strict plans for his retirement, while the options include going to school, teaching school and learning a foreign language.

“The thing that I worry about most is that I have no hobbies,” he said.

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