Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson's former communications director and senior adviser, Robert Philbin, has been named the city's new chief operating officer and chief of staff.
Philbin left the city post in February to work in a similar role for Capital Area Transit. His position was heavily scrutinized by the City Council, and he worked without pay last year.
Philbin replaces Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia, who resigned last month. He was not immediately available for comment.
Thompson wanted Philbin to fill the COO role, and Harrisburg receiver William Lynch did not object, said Cory Angell, spokesman for Lynch's office.
“Bob is the only person who can hit the ground running,” Thompson said of the decision to turn to Philbin at the end of her administration. “I want to spend the last six months on closing out my legacy. There are major transactions getting ready to occur with solving this incinerator crisis. That’s going to happen.”
The mayor said she expects to announced exciting news soon. The city’s biggest hurdle is finalizing a deal to sell the troubled trash-burning plant and lease the parking system. Those transactions have been near the finish line for several months.
Thompson said she has informed the City Council that members need to be available this summer. Traditionally, the council is on break throughout much of July and August.
“We have some decisions to make. I have told them to please be available in the month of August,” she said, comparing the asset deals to a fast-moving train.
The mayor added that Philbin has good relationships with all city directors and he will be able to ensure the recovery process moves forward. She said she wants to ensure a smooth transition for the next mayor.
“Lynch is helping to implement that plan,” she said. “Bob is coming in to help carry out what he was a part of.”
Philbin will officially join the city Monday. He said he has taken a six-month leave of absence from CAT to serve as the city's COO.
“I’m honored to serve the city during this historic period of fiscal recovery and transition,” Philbin said.