Disbarred attorney still owes $650,000; avoids contempt ruling

Delay of Given's director confirmation vote remains a mystery

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Philip Given, York City chief of staff, is serving as the interim director of economic and community development (Photo courtesy of York City).

Mayor Michael Helfrich and members of the York City Council continue to keep quiet about what's holding up the confirmation of Phillip Given, Helfrich's nominee to the post of director of economic and community development.

The confirmation vote for Given, who has run the department in an acting capacity for months, was pulled from the Dec. 3 City Council agenda without explanation.

That came despite the fact that City Council President Henry Nixon gave Given high praise and the council unanimously voted to make Tom Ray the city's business administrator during that same meeting.

More:York City Council pulls Given confirmation, OKs Ray as business admin

"I don't want to elaborate on (Given's confirmation)," Henry said on Thursday. "It's more of an internal thing."

Henry confirmed a confirmation vote will not be on the agenda for Tuesday's council meeting.

Council members have also refused to answer whether the delay is due to a lack of votes to push Given's confirmation through. Only a simple majority of the five-person council is required to confirm a director.

"I would say that's not the reason for the delay," Councilman Michael Buckingham said. "I can't tell you much more than that. Council just wasn't ready for it."

Councilwomen Sandie Walker, Edquina Washington and Judy Ritter-Dixon did not respond Thursday to phone and email inquiries.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich has said that he expects Given to garner the votes needed from the council after budget season. But he wouldn't elaborate on the reason for the delay.

The City Council is expected to vote on the city's budget during next week's legislative meeting.

Given, who declined to comment, has had his hands full in Helfrich's administration. He had served as the mayor's chief of staff since 2018 but was tasked in April with handling economic development amid a string of vacancies.

If Given were to be confirmed, he would see a pay raise, topping his salary off at $73,500 annually. He made $57,400 as chief of staff, which increased to $69,279 upon him taking on the acting director role.

Given's confirmation would leave the city with no more "acting" department heads, a point of contention during Helfrich's tenure. The mayor has come under fire for allegedly circumventing the council, as acting department heads don't require council approval.

Like the business administration department, the economic and community development department has struggled with turnover.

Earlier this year, the economic and community development department went through two acting directors in three months, which led to Given taking over.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.