Northumberland County row officers to discuss next step
SUNBURY - Northumberland County row officers who had their salaries reduced by $25,000 to $30,000 Wednesday by county commissioners Vinny Clausi and Stephen Bridy reportedly will meet this morning to discuss their options in dealing with the unprecedented action.
The location and time of the meeting were not revealed.
Longtime register and recorder Mary Zimmerman said Thursday afternoon the row officers will discuss their next course of action. She didn't reveal what options are being considered.
Commissioner Richard Shoch opposed the salary reductions.
Sheriff Chad Reiner said Thursday he has no intention of quitting his position despite his salary being drastically cut.
"I will continue to serve the citizens of Northumberland County to the best of my abilities," he said.
Controller Tony Phillips, who was the only elected official to maintain his annual salary of $56,676, said Thursday, "I'm only concerned with continuing to do my job for the taxpayers of Northumberland County. I don't want to get involved in any controversies. I believe I work hard for the salary I get. I am normally the first person in this building (administration center) and the last to leave. There are days I'm here until 9 or 10 p.m. and I also come in on some weekends, depending on what needs to be done."
Phillips, who has served as controller since 2011, said he has cut overall expenses in his office by $70,000 since he assumed the position. He pointed out that his former position of deputy controller was never filled, which saved the county $36,000 in salary.
Phillips' salary could have been reduced to $19,000.
Clausi, chairman of the board of commissioners, said he made a motion to maintain Phillips' salary because he plays a vital role in the county by serving as its "fiscal watchdog." Since Clausi's motion died for lack of a second by Bridy or Shoch, Phillips' salary was automatically maintained.
Clausi said, "I feel the controller's office is the most important office in Northumberland County. I don't think we pay him enough. He is very educated and has saved the taxpayers of Northumberland County a lot of money."
Health coverage, too
Clausi and Bridy were heavily criticized by the majority of people in attendance at Wednesday's public hearing and special meeting.
The two commissioners voted in favor of decreasing the commissioners' salaries from $61,000 to $31,500. The minimum salary they could have set for the position was $21,000.
Coroner James F. Kelley's salary was slashed from $53,834 to $30,500. His salary could have been cut to $14,000.
The salaries for Prothonotary Kathleen Strausser, who is retiring at the end of the year, Register and Recorder Mary Zimmerman, Sheriff Chad Reiner and Treasurer Kevin Gilroy were each trimmed to $31,000.
The current salaries of Strausser and Zimmerman are $57,396, while Reiner and Gilroy both earn $53,834.
The $172,270 salary paid to District Attorney Tony Rosini is tied to the state rate paid to county judges and is not affected. By law, Rosini receives $1,000 less than the county judges.
Bridy and Clausi voted to have all elected county officials pay 50 percent of the county's contribution toward health benefits and passed an ordinance establishing the salaries and benefits for the next term of each respective row office. Shoch voted "no" on both matters.
The salary changes for the commissioners, sheriff and treasurer will take effect in 2016, while the reductions for the coroner, register and recorder and prothonotary will be effective next year.
Currently, the county pays $695.76, $1,388.65 and $1,745.94 per month for single, two-party and family health care coverage, respectively, while elected officials contribute $108, $175 and $241 per month for the different plans. When they begin their new terms, elected officials will be required to pay $347.88, $694.32 and $872.97 per month.