David Kale, Cambridge’s onetime budget director, returns March 13 as assistant city manager for finance. (Photo: Nerej)

After more than four years as town administrator in Belmont, David Kale is returning to Cambridge.

Once budget director and deputy finance director, Kale becomes assistant city manager for finance as of March 13. The appointment by City Manager Louis A. DePasquale became official Monday at a City Council meeting; with plenty of other business on the agenda – the meeting stretched past four hours – councillors accepted the move without comment.

DePasquale noted that Kale’s experience in Cambridge, Belmont and with the Arlington Public School system “makes him the right choice for this key position in my administration.”

As a fellow finance expert, the new city manager should know; before his appointment in November, DePasquale was assistant city manager for fiscal affairs for 14 years, and before that served as the city’s budget director and in other capacities in the city’s budget and treasury departments. He and Kale contributed to many years of top municipal ratings from credit rating agencies, record-setting levels of free cash and award-winning budgets.

Essentially, he will fill the hole left by DePasquale’s promotion. Another likely option would have been a promotion identical to that of DePasquale’s years ago: Promoting the Budget Department’s director, Jeana Franconi.

“Mr. Kale has a strong understanding of the unique characteristics of Cambridge and has existing working relationships with most of our current department heads, and familiarity with the many community organizations and neighborhood groups in the city,” DePasquale said.

Kale’s work in Belmont, a neighboring town of some 25,000 people, including strategic planning for a board of selectmen, preparation of annual operating budgets and working on major policy questions facing the town’s elected bodies, DePasquale said, and “has prepared him for overseeing the assessing, budget, finance, information technology, personnel and purchasing departments.” His contract in town was nearing completion.

Officials in Belmont called Kale a consensus builder who got school and municipal departments working collaboratively. His departure “will be a real loss to the town,” said Mark Paolillo, chairman of the town’s selectmen, to Franklin B. Tucker at The Belmontonian. “He was not a reactive town administrator. David was always thinking about the next step and working towards filling the needs of the town. I’ll miss that the most.”

Commenting Tuesday from his Belmont office, Kale rattled off a long list of Cambridge projects he was excited to play a role in, from Community Preservation Act funds and affordable housing to City Council goal-setting and the Net Zero greenhouse gas and Vision Zero traffic death initiatives. Capital projects and the city’s participatory budgeting process are two he singled out as “things I’d enjoy getting involved in.”

“In my position here, I’ve been able to touch on a lot of things,” he said. The variety of projects awaiting him in Cambridge meant also being “very excited to be part of the city manager’s senior management team. I look forward to working with him and the City Council on many initiatives and having an impact on the city where I live.”

Kale, a lifelong resident of Cambridge, has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Suffolk University and a MBA from Suffolk University’s Graduate School of Business Administration.

When he last worked in Cambridge, Kale received a $137,555 salary. In Belmont, he began at $155,000. As he returns to Cambridge in a new role, he will take home $187,811 annually, Personnel Director Sheila Keady Rawson said.

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