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Without York City Council backing, Given returns to chief of staff

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Philip Given, acting director of economic and community development for the City of York, speaks about damage at City Hall in York City, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. The door, at back, was the entry point late Wednesday when a suspect broke into City Hall, inflicting damage throughout the building, including a physical attack on IT servers. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Philip Given again became York City Mayor Michael Helfrich's chief of staff Wednesday after the York City Council refused to confirm his appointment to the post of director of community and economic development.

Given has held the "acting" director title since April 2019, and the council repeatedly declined to act on Helfrich's nomination.

"The 12 months was up," Helfrich said, referring to a policy he created that limited the time a department head could hold the post without confirmation. "We didn't have the votes from council to pass him."

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

Given technically served more than 12 months, but that's because Helfrich's policy wasn't codified until September 2019. 

Throughout the past year, Given has effectively served dual roles, maintaining many of the duties of the mayor's chief of staff, including handling media questions.

As acting director, Given was paid $73,500 annually. His salary will decrease to $58,835 as chief of staff, Helfrich said.

The City Council was slated to vote last December on whether to approve Given as the official director of community and economic development, but members abruptly pulled the vote from the agenda in a legislative meeting.

Council President Henry Nixon said they were "not prepared" for a vote at that time, and the vote was never put back on the agenda.

Council members have repeatedly declined to provide details about their opposition to Given's appointment. 

"I don't think there's a person on this planet that could have predicted what 2020 would look like," Given said. "Although it was an unprecedented time to lead that department, I'm incredibly proud of the work we did as a team."

Under city policy, Helfrich will now serve as the department's director until he appoints someone else. Those interested in the position can apply here.

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