SUNBURY - Moving the administrative offices of Northumberland County from Sunbury to Shamokin could be tougher than originally thought according to research by the commissioner opposed to the plan.

In an email sent to the media Sunday afternoon, Commissioner Richard Shoch passed along a section of the Pennsylvania County Code, Title 16, section 405 (a), concerning the role of the county seat.

"The commissioners, auditors, controller, treasurer, sheriff, recorder of deeds, prothonotary, clerk of courts, clerk of orphans court, register of wills, recorder of deeds and district attorney shall keep their respective offices and all public records and papers belonging thereto, at the county seat," the section reads.

"Most of the functions and records located in the administration building would fall into the enumerated categories that are required to be physically located in the county seat, which is Sunbury," Shoch wrote.

Shoch's research was done in response to a plan from fellow county commissioner Vinny Clausi, who is looking at the possible sale of the county's 19,000 square-foot administration building in Sunbury, and moving over 70 employees and the commissioners into open spaces in the county's Career and Arts Center, in Shamokin.

Shoch took time in the email to criticize Clausi, who said he has been working on this idea for some time.

"Mr. Clausi said he's been analyzing this 'plan' for three years. Once I bothered to take a look at the County Code, a copy of which is (or should be) in the top desk drawer of each of the Commissioners, it took me all of three minutes to find this."

The Republican commissioner said that in order for the plan to work, the county seat would have to be changed to Shamokin, which would require action from the state General Assembly.

"If that's done, we would also have to move the courthouse to Shamokin, and probably other offices and records too," Shoch said.

When reached for comment, Clausi said Shoch was correct in his research, but the statute would not deter his effort.

"We can find room at the courthouse or some other county building in Sunbury to keep the records and the offices we need to there, and still move some of the others not on the list to Shamokin," Clausi said.

Such offices, currently housed in the administration building, include the tax claims, county assessment, finance office, information technology and computer services, planning, payroll and human resources, veterans affairs and conflicts counsel.

Clausi said that all the effort to shut down his idea is fruitless since no formal plan is in place.

"Everything is still in the talking stages," Clausi said. "Nothing has been decided and if we can't find anyone interested in purchasing in the administration building, we won't do it."

Clausi said Saturday the county sent a letter to the Shikellamy School District Thursday, asking if they would be interested in purchasing the building, since it is so close to Shikellamy High School and its athletic fields.