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New City of Pittsburgh finance chief will work under protege — Peduto

| Monday, April 28, 2014, 11:00 p.m.
Bob Bauder
Paul Leger, 69, of the North Side has been hired as Pittsburgh's finance director.

Paul Leger will work for one of his star pupils — Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto — when he becomes head of the city Finance Department.

Peduto studied under Leger at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public & International Affairs when Leger taught government finance.

“He was a good student,” Leger said. “He taught me quite a bit.”

Leger, 69, of the Mexican War Streets is returning to city government, where he worked for 19 years in various posts, including finance director under late Mayor Bob O'Connor. He will earn $100,889 a year. City Council must vote to accept or reject the appointment.

Leger said he was happily retired for three years but couldn't refuse Peduto when the mayor offered the position. His start date isn't set, but Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty said it would be soon.

“I am one of those people who are old-fashioned enough to believe that if the chief executive asks you to do something, you do it,” Leger said. “I love the work. I love the city. I think it's an exciting time for new government.”

Leger is drawing a city pension but must suspend his $538 monthly payout when he returns, according to John Sibbet, president of the municipal pension fund board. He will not accrue additional pension benefits, Sibbet said.

Leger left city government in 2006 after being fired with the solicitor and O'Connor's chief of staff during a shake-up while the mayor was hospitalized with terminal brain cancer.

“I don't think any of us, in any way, holds Mayor O'Connor responsible,” he said. “He was very ill. These maneuvers were made by others whom we really didn't report to.”

Leger said he's reviewing the city budget and other finance documents at home while waiting to begin work. Peduto has said the city's financial path hinges on a plan for exiting state financial oversight that will outline revenue streams and solutions for reducing debt and employee pension liabilities.

Leger agrees, saying state oversight has helped keep some city expenses in check.

“I know what everyone else knows about Paul Leger,” said Henry Sciortino, executive director of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, one of the city's fiscal overseers. “He's a seasoned veteran. He knows the business, and he's going to be helpful to them.”

Leger said he wants to generate reports on revenue, cash flow and budget comparisons in real time so the city knows its financial position at any moment. The information would permit officials to anticipate and plan for spikes and dips in revenue and expenses, he said.

“I'd like to know on a daily basis just where we're at,” Leger said. “That's very important when you're in a cash-strapped government position.”

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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