City to name new director of finance

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A former District of Columbia and Richmond, Va., finance official will be named Baltimore's new director of finance on Monday, city officials said.

Harry E. Black, a Baltimore native who wrote a guide to economic development for cities, will replace Edward Gallagher, who is retiring after 29 years, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office announced.

"We are excited to welcome Mr. Harry Black to City Hall as we work on the budget for the next fiscal year," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "He has big shoes to fill, but I am confident that he can provide the fiscal guidance and support city government needs as we develop strategies to grow Baltimore in the next decade. He is an experienced and capable leader."

Gallagher, who announced his impending retirement in September, said he would stay on until early March to help with the transition. Rawlings-Blake's office launched a national search to find a successor for the finance chief.

Black assumes his post as the city prepares for its fourth consecutive significant budget shortfall, an estimated $52 million gap in the spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

He said his experience in other cities had prepared him to handle Baltimore's fiscal challenges.

"Most state and local governments are feeling the pinch right now," Black said in an interview Sunday. "It's not unique to Baltimore."

Black said he planned to be "as innovative … as possible" in dealing with Baltimore's budget.

He said he would focus on "trying to meet the administration's goals and objectives in balancing the budget and making certain the city is able to perform the way it's expected."

Black grew up in Park Heights and attended Baltimore City public schools before earning a bachelor's degree from Virginia State University and a master's in public administration from the University of Virginia.

After graduation, he worked as a manager for the New York City Transit Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Black directed the District of Columbia's budget and finance office and served as that city's chief financial officer in the 1990s under then-Mayor Anthony Williams.

He served as the chief financial officer and deputy chief administrative officer for Richmond from 2005 to 2008.

For the past three years, Black worked as the executive vice president and chief operating officer for Global Commerce Solutions Inc., which provides financial consulting services to federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Black said he met Sunday with Gallagher, who was brought to the finance department by William Donald Schaefer nearly three decades ago.

Gallagher, who is celebrated for improving the city's bond rating and maintaining the high rating throughout the recession, was honored at a gala last week, with more than 110 current and former city employees toasting him, mayoral spokesman Ryan O'Doherty said.

Black, whose appointment must be approved by the City Council, is to be introduced to the legislative body at a luncheon on Monday, the mayor's office said.