Northumberland County commissioners to meet tonight on row office pay reduction
SUNBURY - Northumberland County commissioners will meet tonight to either lower or maintain the current salaries of elected officials.
A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the county administration center to address the salaries of the three county commissioners, treasurer, prothonotary, sheriff, coroner, district attorney, controller and register and recorder. Commissioners took previous action to eliminate the two jury commissioner positions at the end of the year.
In May, Commissioner Stephen Bridy proposed lowering elected officials' salaries by what he said would be 25 to 50 percent. His motion was initially tabled before later being approved by himself and Clausi. Commissioner Richard Shoch opposes the possible salary cuts.
The commissioners are authorized to set the salaries of elected officials, but can only reduce them to certain amounts according to the county code covering fifth-class counties.
Bridy said the earliest the salaries could be reduced is 2014, which is one year prior to the next election for the commissioners.
Bridy previously said he made the motion so elected officials can lead by example by taking pay cuts during tough financial times. He also favors cutting salaries because he considers some of the elected positions part-time, including commissioner.
Register and Recorder Mary Zimmerman, District Attorney Tony Rosini, Coroner James Kelley, Sheriff Chad Reiner and Treasurer Kevin Gilroy previously went on record opposing the proposal, claiming it shows a lack of respect for the duties they perform. Prothonotary Kathleen Strausser, who is not seeking re-election, and Controller Tony Phillips reserved comment about the proposed reductions.
"If you cut the salaries that low, you won't get competent people to run for the positions," Shoch previously said. "You are talking about reducing salaries to the level they were in 1980. Whatever the county would save in reducing salaries, it will lose in lawsuits because mistakes will be made by people who aren't as competent in those positions. No other county in Pennsylvania has reduced salaries that low."
Bridy previously defended his recommendation to cut the salaries, saying it wasn't "spite work." Noting he has a lot to lose from his $61,000 salary, Bridy said the time is right for the change. He said many row officers through the years have been "career politicians."
According to information provided to Bridy by assistant solicitor John Muncer, commissioners, who currently make approximately $61,000 per year, could have their salaries cut to $21,000.
The sheriff, treasurer, controller, register and recorder and prothonotary could have their salaries reduced to $19,000, while the coroner's salary could be reduced to $14,000. The district attorney is the seventh row officer, but his salary is tied to the state rate paid to county judges.
What they make now
The following is a list of elected officials, their salaries and benefits or the money they receive for waiving their benefits:
Commissioner Stephen Bridy - $60,999.90, $1,500 waiver.
Commissioner Vinny Clausi - $60,999.90, $16,664 two-person benefit package.
Commissioner Richard Shoch - $60,999.90, $20,951 family benefit package.
Jury commissioner George Dorko - $10,455.90, $8,349 single benefit package.
Jury commissioner Samuel Deitrick - $10,455.90, $8,349 single benefit package.
Treasurer Kevin Gilroy - $53,833.78, $8,349 single benefit package.
Coroner James Kelley - $53,834.04, $20,951 family benefit package.
Controller Tony Phillips - $56,675.84, $1,500 waiver.
Sheriff Chad Reiner - $53,834.04, $1,500 waiver.
District Attorney Tony Rosini - $172,270.80, $16,664 two-person benefit package.
Prothonotary Kathleen Strausser - $57,395.52, $16,664 two-person benefit package.
Register and Recorder Mary Zimmerman - $57,395.52, $8,349 single benefit package.
The total salaries of the elected officials is $709,151.04.