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Retired city worker collects pension and City Council pay check

City Councilor Stephen J. Murphy filed a proclamation last summer that declared June 23 to be Pat Harrington Day in Boston, an honor for a pal from his home neighborhood of Hyde Park who had retired after 37 years at City Hall. The resolution stated that the Boston City Council extended its "best wishes for a many days of happiness and health."

Harrington apparently took the City Council at its word.

Murphy hired Harrington last month to work 10 hours a week in his office at a rate of nearly $34 an hour, according to data obtained under the state's open record law. While he earns municipal pay, the 58-year-old Harrington will remain a City of Boston retiree collecting a pension of just of over $72,000 a year.

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The arrangement is legal, according to the Boston Retirement Board. State law allows retirees collecting a pension to double dip – within limits. A retiree collecting a municipal pension can go back to work for the city up to 960 hours a year.

The law also limits pay. In the first year of retirement, checks from the city – pension plus city council pay – cannot exceed the annual salary of a retiree's old job. For Harrington, that means he cannot make more than $61,000 working for the City Council.

Harrington's tenure with the city started in 1977, when he was hired during the administration of Kevin H. White. Harrington retired in 2014 as an executive assistant in Administration and Finance, for which he earned an annual salary of $130,000, according to payroll data. When he retired, Harrington also walked away with a $19,000 payout for unused sick and vacation days.

Murphy and Harrington did not return phone messages seeking comment. In a statement, Murphy said Harrington had been hired as a part-time staffer who works one day a week and covers night meetings.

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"Pat is someone I trust who has extensive institutional knowledge of the City of Boston and how it works," Murphy said.

Asked if he had an issue with Harrington collecting a city pension and a city paycheck, Murphy said via text message, “It is within the parameters of the law.”


Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.