Increased salaries for Northumberland County probation officers denied
SUNBURY - Money trumped experience Tuesday when the Northumberland County Salary Board failed to grant salaries proposed by President Judge William H. Wiest for chief probation officer and deputy chief of adult probation.
A motion to pay recently appointed chief probation officer Jimmy Cortelyou a salary of $60,355, which is above the base salary of $53,073 established earlier in the meeting, failed on a 2-3 vote.
Opposing the motion were Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Stephen Bridy, and Controller Chris Grayson. Wiest and Commissioner Richard Shoch, who participated by telephone, cast affirmative votes.
Wiest, who appointed Cortelyou to chief probation officer late last month, said he believes the Herndon man deserves a higher salary than the base salary because of his experience.
Cortelyou served the past six years as a probation officer in Dauphin County, but he is no stranger to the Northumberland County court system. During his previous four-year stint in the Northumberland County probation office, he was a special deputy to the U.S. Marshal's office and a narcotics detention K-9 handler.
In Dauphin County, Cortelyou supervised sex offenders, defendants in mental health and drug cases and defendants serving house arrest.
Wiest said Cortelyou also has trained other probation officers during his career in Dauphin County.
Cortelyou is a graduate of Line Mountain High School and Lycoming College.
Cortelyou was selected from among six applicants, Wiest reported.
He succeeds Michael Barvitskie, who recently accepted a position with the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole in Williamsport. Barvitskie, who was chief probation officer since July 2013, was making approximately $61,000.
The board also failed to approve a motion to pay deputy chief of adult probation Sean Madden a salary of $58,214, which is above the starting salary of $37,289.
Shoch and Wiest voted in favor of the salary increase, while Clausi and Grayson voted "no." Bridy abstained because he said Madden is his friend.
Wiest said Madden has been employed in the Union County adult probation department for five years after previously serving in the same department in Northumberland County for 18 years.
After the meeting, the judge said he didn't know if Cortelyou and Madden would accept the positions at lower salaries than he recommended. He said if Madden becomes deputy chief of adult probation, current deputy chief Tim Heitzman would be demoted to probation officer.
The judge said he believes changes are needed in the probation department and felt it was necessary to hire personnel from other counties to make the department more cohesive.
Clausi pointed out that deputy chief of juvenile probation William Rossnock, who served as interim chief probation officer prior to Cortelyou's appointment, is making approximately $50,000 after 22 years of service.
Wiest agreed that Rossnock should receive a higher salary.
In addition to the salary issue, Clausi said he is concerned about Cortelyou being sued three times for substantial amounts of money over his involvement in business ventures through the years. Clausi said two of the suits have been settled, while another one remains open.
The commissioner, who provided the media with documentation about the lawsuits, said he had a problem hiring a chief probation officer who allegedly didn't pay his bills and sales tax.
Wiest said he was aware of the lawsuits filed against Cortelyou, but was under the impression all of them had been settled. The judge said he didn't believe the lawsuits would have any effect on Cortelyou's performance as chief probation officer.
In other business
The board unanimously agreed to increase the salary of bridge supervisor Mark Collier from $27,595 to $31,602.
On a 3-1 vote, the board increased the salary of security director Ronald Yeager from $27,595 to $28,921. Clausi, Grayson and Bridy approved the increase, while Shoch voted against it.