No, a police lieutenant is NOT the highest-paid city official. This guy makes $100K more (UPDATED)

How much does the city's longest serving agency head really make?

UPDATE: Boy, is Baltimore Housing spokeswoman Tania Baker mad at us. Turns out we read the pay figures for Paul Graziano completely wrong. She sent a scathing email to CP Editor Evan Serpick, setting out in simple terms how Paul Graziano does not make anywhere near $335,000 a year. It's just $214,000, more or less. How does a man listed as drawing $153,000 from the city and $122,000 (plus $60,000 bonus) from the feds actually make $110,000 less than that? We'll let Baker explain:

"Here are the facts that we would have provided if we were given sufficient opportunity to respond: 

o   Baltimore Housing Commissioner/Executive Director Paul Graziano, who leads both the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) and the City's Department of Housing and Community Development, has a total combined salary of $214,300. Of this total, $151,900 is received through the City payroll and $62,400 is paid through HABC's payroll. 

o   However, Commissioner Graziano's salary is prorated at 60/40 (HABC/City), based on the scale of the respective operations.

o   The City's actual share at 40% of $214,300 is $85,720 and HABC's actual share at 60% is $128,580.

o   The combined salary of $214,300 is $150,200 under the combined allowable maximum of $364,500. The City's maximum salary per the City's Department of Human Resources is $209,500 (see attached memo) and HUD's maximum salary $155,000. HUD has confirmed that Commissioner Graziano is in compliance with the statutory salary cap.

o   While HUD refers to all non-salary payments as a bonus, in fact, non-salary benefits totaling approximately $59,500 were paid by HABC related to retirement and life insurance programs as follows: 

Deferred compensation             $23,500

Life insurance/Annuity               $36,000            

Total                                           $59,500"

 

All of this is so intriguing that City Paper is following up with HUD and others. What Baker seems to be saying above is that Graziano's salary figure as reported by the city—which reports all city officials' pay so as to be transparent—is absolutely wrong. And she is also saying that the figure reported by HUD—which was compelled by law to publish the compensation of its housing agency executives in order to be transparent—is also totally inaccurate. We hope Baltimore Housing—and Commissioner Graziano—accept our apology for getting his total compensation figure wrong. But we still wonder: Given that neither the federally reported figure, nor the city-reported figure, is remotely accurate, why is his pay accounted for this way? We hope to update this story again soon.

 

Every year, Open Baltimore publishes the previous fiscal year's pay for all city employees. The Sun usually gets a story out of it, and the database—available here—is always interesting to browse and sort.

Five of the top 20 highest-paid city employees are paramedics, for instance—and 12 are police officers.

Among those 20 highest-earning public servants are but four "executive directors," including a battalion fire chief (who is also an EMT) and the police commissioner (who is, of course, also a cop). So the top-20 list includes only two city agency executives who are not first responders.

It is a fascinating picture. But there are several well-paid city officials who do not appear on the list. And there is one whose listed salary is less than half of the true figure.

Paul Graziano, Baltimore's director of Housing, is the city's longest-serving agency head. He clocks in on the gross pay list at No. 74, with a fiscal 2015 compensation of $153,425. 

That puts him four places below a cop named Gerald Hensley; one above a police sergeant.

But Graziano makes much more than a buck-50, because the agency he heads is bifurcated. Baltimore Housing oversees both the Department of Housing and Community Development—a city agency—and the Baltimore Housing Authority, which is funded by state and federal money. On top of his city salary, Graziano drew a federal paycheck in fiscal 2014 totaling $181,769, according to figures released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Graziano's federal salary was $122,075. But he also earned a bonus of $59,694. In 2013, Congress capped at $155,000 the amount of public housing authority salaries that could be drawn from its Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly called "Section 8." Additional compensation must come from nonfederal funds, the agency says. A HUD spokesperson says Project-Based Section 8 housing contracts are often paid separately, and don't count under the cap. He is researching the agency's contracts with Baltimore to see if that is the source of Graziano's additional compensation.

It is not certain how much Graziano made in fiscal 2015, as this year's figures are not yet available publicly. A message left with Baltimore Housing's communication's director was not immediately returned. But it's highly unlikely that Graziano earned less than $325,000 this year. If he made as much federal pay as he did in fiscal 2014, his compensation topped $335,000. 

That would put him $100,000 above this year's highest-paid city employee, Lt. Stephen C. Nalewajko.

There are some housing officials who do not appear in the Open Baltimore database, including Rainbow Lin, Baltimore Housing's chief financial officer. Her federal pay in 2014 totaled $127,844, including a $20,891 bonus. Housing Authority of Baltimore City Deputy Executive Director Anthony Scott made $173,611, including his $3,611 bonus. He was not paid as a Baltimore City employee either.

Nor was Reginald Scriber, the deputy commissioner for Community Services, who helps find housing for displaced people, witnesses in criminal cases, and others. It is not clear from available documents how much he earns.

Also not appearing on the city's payroll in 2015 is Kimberly Washington, listed on Baltimore Housing's website as "Chief of Staff." She has been in that position since February 2013, but her position appears neither on the federal listing of most highly paid HABC staffers (there are only three on the list), nor on the city's payroll list.

This is interesting because Washington, one of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's closest childhood friends, has served in several high-level positions in the mayor's administration. She has been deputy chief of Government and Community Affairs and, according to her bio at Baltimore Housing, "the City's chief lobbyist in Annapolis." She was also at housing from 2003 until 2007. 

Graziano, who took the city's top housing position in 2001, has developed a reputation as a bureaucratic survivor. A 2011 profile by The Sun's Scott Calvert reported his pay that year as just under $203,000, noting that it was a third more than the mayor made.

Since then he's increased his salaries by more than 50 percent.

Graziano has done so by being politically savvy. Among city agency heads, he was the top political contributor to the city's mayor's campaign, Calvert reported. And he also did not hesitate to find jobs for those the mayor favored, including a boyfriend of former Mayor Sheila Dixon (she denied she ordered Graziano to employ the man, who has since left the agency).

Rawlings-Blake considered replacing Graziano when she became mayor, but changed her mind, she told Calvert: 

"I said to him, basically, 'Hit the reset button. These are the things I want to see. I'm not going to tell you who to hire, I'm not going to tell you who to fire. . . . I want you to develop a strong housing department that can meet the needs of our neighborhoods and can address the pressing challenges about vacant housing that we have.'"

Eighteen months later, Graziano hired the Mayor's best friend as chief of staff.


Click here for more from Edward Ericson Jr. or email Edward at eericson@citypaper.com

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