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Baltimore finance director departs for Cincinnati job

Baltimore finance director Harry Black is resigning to become the city manager of Cincinnati — the latest of at least six high-level departures from City Hall in a year.

A Park Heights native, Black had been the city’s finance director for about 21/2 years. He will be replaced by Finance Department deputy Henry Raymond, according to the mayor’s office.

Black’s last day in Baltimore will be Aug. 20. His new job is pending approval of the Cincinnati City Council.

“I would like to thank Mr. Black for his dedicated service to my administration and the City of Baltimore,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “A lead architect of the city’s first 10-year financial plan, Mr. Black has helped put Baltimore’s government back on a sustainable path as we continue to grow our city. Our budgets are back in the black, we have made more progress in property tax reduction than any administration in recent history and we have cut our long-term structural deficit by half. We wish him the very best.”

Black, who was paid $190,000 annually, is leaving as Baltimore officials are promoting success in financial management. Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded the city’s bond rating to AA. The city’s 10-year financial plan, which he has overseen, cut about $300 million from the city’s $750 million structural deficit.

Meanwhile, his agency has been confronted with sometimes erroneous tax bills that city officials have blamed on state calculations. The city has taken steps to deal with those problems, including pledging to pay $3 million to residents who received inaccurate bills and beefing up its Billing Integrity Unit.

“Baltimore is in the midst of a public financial renaissance,” Black said in a statement. “I have been humbled to have been part of this movement, and am confident that the City of Baltimore will continue to grow under the strong leadership of Henry Raymond.”

Raymond, whose salary will increase from $156,000 to $192,000, has been the city’s deputy director of finance since 2010. He has worked for Maryland Govs. William Donald Schaefer and Parris N. Glendening and been the chief financial officer for the city schools.

Black’s move marks at least the sixth Cabinet-level or agency head departure in a year. Rawlings-Blake’s chief of staff, Alexander Sanchez, and his deputy, Kym Nelson; human resources director Ronnie Charles; health commissioner Oxiris Barbot; information technology chief Chris Tonjes; public works director Al Foxx; and CitiStat director Chad Kenney have resigned for various reasons. Most were replaced through internal promotion.

Comptroller Joan M. Pratt said she's concerned about the departures but is glad the mayor has generally filled the jobs from within city government.

“It’s not good to have a lot of turnover, especially when the city is moving in a positive direction,” Pratt said. She added that she believes Raymond will make an excellent replacement for Black.

City Councilman Carl Stokes, who chairs the finance committee, said he believed Black was “more open, frankly, than some others in city government.” He said he thinks Raymond keeps information “closer to the vest,” but is generally “well-liked” within City Hall.

Stokes said the Finance Department still has much work to do in fixing erroneous tax bills and ensuring that agencies are keeping proper books for audits.

“There are still issues to be worked out in that office, but progress has been made,” he said.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater 

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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