Mayor Ed Pawlowski today announced the resignation of Garret H. Strathearn as Director of the Allentown Finance Department.
Strathearn has served in the post since June 2010. He also served as President of the Allentown Aggregate Pension Plan. Strathearn came to the city after a lengthy career in the business world that included work in municipal finance and public policy.
Strathearn was a key figure in the city’s 2012 plans to close its massive unfunded pension liability that threatened to consume as much as 30-percent of the city’s general fund budget. In August 2013 the city closed on a more than $211MM Concession Lease of its Water/Sewer Utility System that paid off pension bonds and restored stability to city pension funds and the annual operating budget.
Earlier this year, the city’s credit rating with Standard & Poor’s (S&P) was upgraded three notches from BBB+ to A+ with a “Stable Outlook.” In its report at that time, S&P stated: “the upgrade reflects our opinion of the city’s significantly improved budgetary flexibility following its entering into a concession lease with Lehigh County Authority.”
Pawlowski praised Strathearn for his persistence. “It was Gary who was chairing meetings or on the phone with our consultants and legal counsel on a daily basis to steer the project to completion. The whole process required a great deal of time and attention to detail. Gary is to be commended for his leadership.”
“I am grateful to Mayor Pawlowski for the confidence he placed in me to get that job done,” said Strathearn. “We put a fantastic team together and crafted a great deal for the city as was evidenced by awards from The Bond Buyer and others.”
Strathearn’s last day with the city is Friday, May 29. ““When I took the job, I hadn’t given a lot of thought to how long I would stay,” Strathearn said. “Allentown is in a lot better shape than most other cities across the Commonwealth. I feel pretty good about what has been accomplished. My leaving now provides the city with enough time to find a replacement for the upcoming budget season.”
The city will immediately begin a national search for a successor.