By BOB ANEZ Associated Press Writer
HELENA - Kurt Alme, state Revenue Department director for more than two years, announced Monday he will resign shortly after the Legislature adjourns and become an assistant U.S. attorney in Billings.
Alme said the position is a career opportunity he has been interested in for many years and could not pass up. He said he also wants a job that allows him to spend more time with his family, which includes two children 6 years old and 4 years old.
Gov. Judy Martz said Linda Francis, who has worked for the state Transportation Department for the past four years, will replace Alme as director.
''His leadership will be truly missed,'' Martz said of Alme, recalling that he has had some tough tasks in heading the state's tax collection agency.
Alme, 36, took over a department that had purchased a computer system designed to track taxes and revenue that was afflicted with software problems from the start in May 1998.
The agency estimates the system has cost the state $55 million, including money lost because the staff had to spend time working on the system instead of conducting audits that could have brought in more revenue.
Alme also has spent much of the past year working on the administration's plan to provide income tax relief and replace the money through enacting selective sales taxes.
During Alme's tenure, the department had to complete the periodic statewide reappraisal of property and to implement a new system on distributing state-collected taxes to cities and counties.
Francis, 50, came to Montana four years ago as a management systems consultant for the Transportation Department and was hired by the agency. A few months ago, she was reassigned to the Revenue Department to help with its information technology problems.
Martz said Francis will immediately become part of the management team working on development of a new computer system to replace the failed one. The Legislature is considering bills that would provide about $26 million, mostly through the sale of bonds, to finance a new system.
No specific date for Alme's resignation has been set, but he said it would be shortly after the end of the legislative session in late April.
Francis will make $83,932 a year, the same salary paid Alme.
Alme is the 11th Martz administration official to resign in the nearly 27 months the Republican governor has been in office.
The governor's legal counsel, scheduler, two communications directors, press secretary, two policy directors, special projects director, and both members of the Northwest Power Planning Council have left the administration since January 2001.