Georgetown, Del., Jan. 30, 2024: Sussex County is hiring a Delaware native with nearly 40 years of experience in water and wastewater construction and management to be the County’s new top engineer.
County Administrator Todd F. Lawson on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, announced Michael T. Harmer as the County’s new County Engineer, filling the position after Hans M. Medlarz revealed in December 2023 plans to retire later this year. Mr. Harmer is a registered professional engineer who brings with him a wealth of experience working in the public and private sectors in both Delaware and Maryland, most recently as chief engineer for a suburban Washington, D.C., wastewater utility, overseeing its engineering and construction department of nearly 375 employees and some 100 contract workers, as well as managing an approximately $600 million budget for an operation serving a half-million customer accounts.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to join Sussex County government. I think my experience in the public sector is an excellent fit for Sussex County, where I look forward to continuing my career,” Mr. Harmer said. “I’m ready to get started and pick up where Hans is leaving off.”
Mr. Harmer, 60, who grew up in Newark and owns a home in Dewey Beach, is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in civil engineering. Since graduating college in 1986, Mr. Harmer earned his professional certification while working for private consulting companies in Delaware and Pennsylvania, then transitioned to the public sector in a variety of supervisory and leadership roles with the University of Delaware, New Castle County, Brandywine School District, and most recently the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC Water).
A respected member of his field, Mr. Harmer earned the Delaware Engineering Society’s Government Engineer of the Year Award in 2005, as well as the American Council of Engineering Companies’ Meritorious Award in 2020, and the Water Environment Federation-Chesapeake Chapter’s Golden Manhole Award in 2023. He is also a past member of the Delaware Water Infrastructure Advisory Council, which advises the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary on capital spending for wastewater and water-related projects statewide. Currently, Mr. Harmer is chairman of the Dewey Beach planning commission, and is a board member/past president of his homeowners’ association.
“We were hopeful we could find a candidate with Mike’s level of experience and Delaware connections,” Mr. Lawson said. “Public safety and environmental protection are among the most critical services we provide at County government, so it’s essential we have an engineer like Mike who has the right mix of experience, leadership, and vision to guide us in serving our community in the years ahead.”
The role of County Engineer is a significant appointment within County government, overseeing a staff of nearly 180 people in five divisions responsible for designing, constructing and maintaining County projects. Those projects include public wastewater systems and various County facilities. Engineering is the single-largest department within County government, and one of its most critical, employing engineers, project managers, draftsmen, construction technicians, wastewater operators, electricians, and maintenance crews, among others.
“As a Delaware native with extensive experience in water and wastewater, buildings and facilities, and hands-on construction, particularly in the public sector, I have a very healthy respect for the taxpayers and being a good steward of their investment,” Mr. Harmer said. “I hope to bring value to all our taxpayers and customers as Sussex County’s next engineer.”
County Council President Michael H. Vincent said Sussex County will benefit greatly from Mr. Harmer’s technical and regulatory understanding as it relates to wastewater services.
“Mr. Harmer seems like he has all the qualifications and experience we need to run what is a pretty significant utility operation,” Mr. Vincent said. “We look forward to him joining the team.”
Mr. Harmer will begin his service with Sussex County on Monday, Feb. 5.