County appeal is still pending
SUNBURY - Northumberland County's appeal to a senior judge's issuance of a preliminary injunction blocking last fall's majority decision by the commissioners to cut salaries and hike insurance costs for row officers remains pending in Commonwealth Court.
A story and headline published in Saturday's edition was incorrect in stating that the appeal had been dismissed. Rather, Judge David E. Grine's opinion filed last week in which he blasted the logic behind the decision was part of the record for the appellate court to consider, and not a final ruling.
"The lower court judge was very late and untimely in finally writing his opinion," said John Muncer, county assistant solicitor.
The appeal has tentatively been assigned to a mediation judge, Muncer said. Should no settlement be reached, a panel of appellate judges will rule on the case.
Since the injunction stems from an interpretation of law rather than a ruling on, for example, the possession of property, Muncer said he doesn't expect a settlement but that it isn't out of the realm of possibility.
Commissioners Stephen Bridy and Vinny Clausi voted Oct. 1 to reduce the salaries of six row offices: county commissioners from $61,000 to $31,500; both the prothonotary and the register and recorder from $57,396 to $31,00; both the sheriff and treasurer from $53,834 to $31,000; coroner from $53,834 to $30,500. Health care contributions were set to rise to 50 percent of the premium. Changes were to take effect following the next election for each office.
Bridy and Clausi project $1.4 million in savings. Commissioner Rick Shoch opposed the action.
Coroner James F. Kelley, register and recorder Mary Zimmerman, former sheriff Chad Reiner and treasurer Kevin Gilroy filed for a preliminary injunction that month, which Grine granted on Nov. 8, temporarily halting the majority commissioners' decision for the six row offices.
The salary for the office of controller was not affected and would remain at $56,676. The final row office, district attorney, has its salary set by the state.