AUGUSTA — H. Sawin Millett, commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, will retire at the end of May, ending more than five decades of public service, Gov. Paul LePage announced Thursday.
Millett, 76, has headed the finance department since LePage took office in 2011, shepherding the governor’s fiscal policies with quiet authority, wisdom and respect, LePage said in a news release.
Millett helped manage two biennial and eight supplemental budgets, directed major pension and tax reforms, oversaw a move to zero-based budgeting and led a streamlining task force that found $25 million in ongoing structural savings for Maine taxpayers, LePage said.
“Sawin’s institutional knowledge and acute understanding of the state budget and financial operations has been invaluable to our administration,” LePage said. “The depth of his experience will be difficult to replace. We wish Sawin and his family much happiness and enjoyment in the retirement he so richly deserves.”
Millett’s last day on the job will be May 30.
Millett, who lives in Waterford, has dedicated nearly 55 years to public service at the local, state and federal levels in Maine.
“I have decided that it is time to phase down the hectic pace of my daily commitment and devote more time to enjoying the wonderful family, farm and community pleasures that await me in Waterford, my birthplace and the source of many generations of Millett family heritage,” Millett wrote in his resignation letter. “Thank you for giving me the privilege of serving in your administration.”
Millett began his career as a teacher and coach at Carmel High School in 1959, after graduating from Bates College. He worked as a teacher, coach and principal until 1971, earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Maine in 1967. He was executive director of the Maine School Management Association and an assistant professor at the University of Southern Maine.
Millett entered politics at the local level, serving as a selectman from 1963 to 1970 in Dixmont, and later as a selectman in Waterford from 1986 to 1989.
Millett served six terms in the Maine House of Representatives, from 1969 to 1972 and from 2002 to 2010. He was the lead House Republican on the appropriations committee during his last three terms.
Millett also served five governors during his career, as education commissioner for Gov. James Longley from 1975 to 1979 and for Gov. Joseph Brennan in 1979; as legislative director and then finance commissioner for Gov. John McKernan from 1987 to 1995; and as a policy adviser and associate commissioner of the Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services for Gov. Angus King from 1995 to 2000.
Millett worked as a regional director for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins from 2000 to 2002.
Millett and his wife, Barbara, have been married for nearly 57 years. They have five children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Kelley Bouchard can be reached at 791-6328 or at: