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.


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

Photo by: Fern Shen

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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  • Mair

    Not picking on Mr. Gallagher,…but whoever set up some of these pension payouts sure never worked for Social Security. How many retirees get this kind of money?

  • Ktrueheart

    Seems that if Mr. Gallagher NEVER took a day of sick or annual leave it would be hard to add up to $200K worth of accrued leave … so somebody threw in a little sump’n to sweeten the pot! Baltimore Brew

  • Tom Kiefaber

    I have posted numerous harsh assessment online of our high elected officials. In many cases the personal opinions I’ve expressed are based on my first- hand interactions with many of them in City Hall over several decades. 

    On a few occasions , I had occasion to meet with Baltimore’s long time  Director of Finance, Edward Gallagher. What a delightful surprise it was to engage a charming, thoughtful gentleman, who displayed an intelligence, integrity and graciousness that I had never encountered before, or since, in City Hall. 

    In this instance, it’s my personal belief that the citizens of Baltimore have been well-served in that key position by a smart, honest mensch that we were lucky to have in that pivotal position. 

    He deserves his earned 200K severance, the perks and a consultancy gig. His sterling reputation and irreplaceable depth and breadth of knowledge make Mr. Gallagher a city treasure to be appreciated and retained in a consultant capacity as long as possible.   

  • Westside Resident

    This man is a great public servant. He oversaw a department of hundreds and worked with a budget of $1.5 billion. His salary was below market rate – let him enjoy pension that he paid for. 

  • Unellu

    Baltimore is planning to sell off some of its historic landmarks–news this AM–for the money, and according to City Hall, for saving these monuments from further decay.  In the face of this kind of news, I really doubt that any one individual, however talented, and however much a mensch, deserves this kind of exorbitance.  People have to move on because no one is indispensable.  They have to find new things to do and govt.  departments well served have to let them go, no matter their value or their intelligence.  Edward Gallagher is doing a good job–OK- but he’s also milking the dry cow of the city for what it’s worth.  If he’s a good worker, he’s been paid well–give him a plaque–not a consultancy job with no decent interval before return–and not a severance that is so sticky sweet it casts a pall on his good record.  This man, minus the severance and the consultancy, will not be poor for the rest of his life.  That cannot be said of most people in America today.  He was, after all, a public servant and there should be no expectation of a luxurious or usurious existence, post public service.  What would happen if Edward Gallagher, were actually gone, like all of us will be one day?  Gem, though he was, he has no business haunting the city, as an irreplaceable and treasured presence, the city is willing to pay extra money for hire.       

    • freddie

      He is not milking the system. This is how it is set up. Additionally, I would suspect that SRB persuaded him to stay on for a additional year(at what is surely much less than his past salary) to assist with the transition to his repalcement plus other assorted duties. Some people are so quick to condemn without all the facts.

  • Unellu

    Yes, he’s getting a lower salary and I do realize that he is supposed to be assisting in the so called transition.  Once the year is over there is no guarantee his consultancy contract won’t be renewed.  What is the new guy Black supposed to be? A figurehead?  If every city department resorted to keeping retired folks  as consultants for transition and pays them to boot, the city will be pockets to let.  The milk of kindness may be overflowing for Gallagher on this thread, but I simply believe that people have to leave when their time comes.  This is a case of having your cake and eating it too for Gallagher and a case of the city’s reluctance to wean itself from Gallagher’s expertise–in other words the city has a dearth of competent folks with integrity and it is hanging on for dear life to what it has in this man.  The city clearly needs more good blood and it is not going to get that through nostalgia or suckling at the same teat.       

  • Barnadine The Pirate

    Seeing as how Helen Holton should be in prison, she has little in the way of moral or ethical standing to allow her to complain about someone ELSE accepting improper payments.

  • Unellu

    You know what Freddie–I didn’t notice the inherent humor in your post-he’s not milking the system–that is the way it is set up.  You hit the nail on the head–while defending the system you let it down.  What fun.

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