Thursday, June 20, 2024

Cambridge finance chief David Kale, second from right, arrives at Starlight Square on Aug. 7, 2020 with then city manager Louis A. DePasquale and other staff. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Cambridge’s head of finance will retire in early July, ending 33 years in public service between City Hall and Cambridge Public Schools, according to letters and memos circulating among officials and staff Thursday.

David Kale, assistant city manager for fiscal affairs and public investments, said in a letter that he wrote “with a mixture of emotions” to announce his retirement just as the city enters a new fiscal year.

“While my professional role with the city is coming to a close, my love and dedication for our city remains unwavering. I have no plans of moving out of the city, and I am confident that our paths will continue to cross,” said Kale, a North Cambridge resident, to fellow officials and city staff.

The city’s assistant finance director, Michele Kincaid, is acting assistant city manager of finance during a transition period, said City Manager Yi-An Huang in a memo and letter provided by city spokesperson Lee Gianetti. “Michele’s experience and dedication make her a perfect choice to lead the city’s finance department, and I appreciate her leadership in taking on this responsibility,” Huang said.

As a city manager in his first year, Huang said he was also “so grateful for all of David’s contributions over so many years, and in particular for his guidance and support to me over these last nine months.”

“David has been incredibly generous with his time and knowledge to bring me up to speed on the city’s complex financials,” Huang said, citing the creation of a nearly $1 billion budget that has included challenges in health and Community Development Department funding decisions; navigating a tax-rate process; and securing another year of top credit scores from the nation’s three top rating agencies. Huang also credited Kale with “attracting, retaining and developing a diverse and effective fiscal staff … one of his highest accomplishments.”

Kale also played a key role in distribution and an accountability system for disbursing $88 million in the federal Covid recovery aid known as the American Rescue Plan Act program and played a leadership role in the Rise Up Cambridge cash assistance program starting in June, Huang said,

Kale had been budget director and deputy finance director since 2003, already playing major roles in organizing city budgets, bond sales and maintaining its credit ratings, when in June 2012 he announced his first departure: to become town administrator in Belmont. He returned in March 2017 as assistant city manager for finance, hired back by Louis A. DePasquale as DePasquale rose to city manager from finance chief.

When DePasquale stepped down in July, Kale’s name was mentioned as a potential replacement. After three decades of leadership from inside City Hall, a selection process and City Council vote opted to go a different direction with Huang, who comes from the world of nonprofit health care administration.

“I look forward to witnessing the continued growth and progress of our city from a slightly different vantage point,” Kale said in his farewell letter. “The successes we have achieved as a city are not attributable to one person or one department, but are the result of our collective efforts, fueled by our shared loyalty to the city and its mission … I have been privileged to be a part of numerous improvements and innovations, each a testament to our collective will and talented staff. I am grateful to have been a part of this journey.”