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Politicsby Mark Reutter1:46 pmMar 19, 20120

Baltimore official got $200K in retirement severance pay

Edward Gallagher’s big severance check supplements his role as paid “senior advisor” to Mayor Rawlings-Blake.

Above: Edward Gallagher at City Hall shortly before he retired last month.

Edward J. Gallagher fared well in his sendoff (sort of) from City Hall, picking up a severance package of $200,000 when he retired last month.

We say “sort of” because the former Director of Finance, who bowed out of his position in early February, has already returned to City Hall as a senior advisor.

Gallagher is on a one-year contract, worth $54,480, to provide “advice and assistance” to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and new finance director Harry E. Black.

The 76-year-old is considered a master of the intricacies of city finances and is highly respected among bond rating agencies.

In appointing Gallagher to the new advisory position, Rawlings-Blake requested a waiver from the rule that city employees must be retired at least 90 calendar days before taking a position in city government.

Disclosed in Budget Hearing

Gallagher’s severance pay was disclosed during a hearing last week before the City Council’s budget committee.

Budget Director Andrew W. Kleine noted that a high-level official in the finance department received a $200,000 severance package. He later confirmed the recipient was Gallagher, and said it consisted of a payout of accrued vacation, unused sick days and other items.

Kleine said he was not authorized to provide other details.

While high severance pay to city bureaucrats has erupted as a political issue in the past, no member of the budget committee, chaired by Helen L. Holton, commented on the Gallagher severance package last week.

After the hearing, one councilman said privately that he thought the payout was high, especially given the city’s financial straits. (During the hearing, Kleine said the city faces a $48 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1.)

Pension Benefits

Besides the severance package, Gallagher retires with a generous pension based on his salary ($181,472 in fiscal 2011) with 29 years of credit in the Baltimore City Employees’ Retirement System.

Using the system’s formula, Gallagher’s pension will start at about $94,000 a year. The pension will be paid for the rest of his life and is guaranteed to increase by 2% a year and could go higher based on the retirement fund’s investment performance. He also receives lifelong health benefits.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Gallagher was hired on February 7, 1983, as Baltimore’s budget director by then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer. He stayed in that position until 2000, when he was elevated to deputy director of finance by Mayor Martin O’Malley.

In 2005, O’Malley made Gallagher the director of finance, which is considered by many the most important appointed job at City Hall.

In addition to supervising 300 employees, Gallagher served on many quasi-public boards, including the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC), Baltimore Hotel Corp., Parking Authority of Baltimore City, Baltimore Public Markets Corp. and National Aquarium Foundation.

In his new capacity as senior advisor, Gallagher will “provide advice and assistance to the director of finance with regard to communications with and presentations to the bond rating agencies and provide general advice and assistance to the Mayor, the Mayor’s Office and the director of finance on all financial matters,” according to the Board of Estimates.

His contract, which started March 1, ends on Feb. 28, 2013.

The mayor’s office did not respond today to requests for comment about the severance package or Gallagher’s specific duties as senior advisor.

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