Northumberland County row officers plan to sue
SUNBURY - Four Northumberland County row officers whose salaries were cut up to 48 percent Oct. 1 by county commissioners Vinny Clausi and Stephen Bridy plan to file a civil lawsuit against the county. But as of late Wednesday afternoon, no complaint had been received by the prothonotary's office.
Register and Recorder Mary Zimmerman, Coroner James F. Kelley, Treasurer Kevin Gilroy and Sheriff Chad Reiner have selected attorney Samuel Stretton of West Chester to represent them in the lawsuit that challenges their salaries being lowered to $31,000 or less.
Prothonotary Kathleen Strausser, who will retire at the end of the year, said Wednesday she's not involved in the lawsuit despite a report by another local newspaper that she was among the plaintiffs.
"I asked not to be part of the lawsuit because the salary cuts don't affect me," she said. "I couldn't care less what the salary is for the next prothonotary/clerk of courts."
Controller Tony Phillips, who is seeking re-election, also will not be part of the suit since his salary remained at $56,676.
Commissioners cut their salaries by nearly 50 percent.
Although the basis of the pending suit has not been revealed, it is believed part of the complaint will allege discrimination by Clausi and Bridy for drastically reducing all the salaries except Phillips'. Commissioner Richard Shoch opposed the salary cuts.
In addition to the salaries being lowered, row officers also must pay 50 percent of the county's contribution toward their health benefits.
The salary reductions for the offices of coroner, register and recorder and prothonotary will go into effect Jan. 1, while the pay cuts for the treasurer, sheriff and commissioners won't become effective until 2016.
District Attorney Tony Rosini's salary, which is set by the state, won't be affected.
Court administrator Brandy Yasenchak said Shamokin attorney David Marateck has agreed to serve as local counsel to assist Stretton. She said Northumberland County Judges Robert B. Sacavage and William H. Wiest have recused themselves from hearing the suit due to potential conflicts of interests. Yasenchak said Judge Charles H. Saylor plans to review the complaint when it is filed before making a decision on presiding over the case.
Yasenchak said it's possible a judge from another county will rule on the lawsuit.