Shoch questions employee raise; Clausi said increase was authorized
SUNBURY - Northumberland County Commissioner Rick Shoch is questioning a raise for an employee in the county Board of Elections Office that was given without a vote from the salary board.
However, fellow Commissioner Vinny Clausi said the increase was a result of a measure passed in 2010 and step increases that did not require such a vote.
On Friday, Shoch provided The News-Item with a form that indicates Cortney Marise, of Sunbury, was approved for a promotion with a salary of $23,191, an increase from her previous salary of $21,535.
Alisha Herb, chief registrar of the Northumberland County Board of Elections, signed the document in the space designated for the person who submitted the form. It is also signed by Clausi, Commissioner Stephen Bridy, Chief Clerk Gary Steffen and budget director Jeff McClintock. There are also spaces for Shoch and Controller Tony Phillips to sign, but the spaces were left blank.
The document was dated July 18, and Picarelli signed and dated it July 16. The effective date was July 29.
Despite a salary board meeting on July 10, the raise was not approved then, and it was not approved at any other salary board meeting in 2013, Shoch said.
The document itself never reached his desk, Shoch said.
"If they want to do it the legal and proper way, they had ample opportunity to do it," he said.
Shoch said Marise is the niece of Janet Povish, who is a secretary in the commissioners' office.
"I'm not doing this to bicker. This is the culture down here, and it needs to change," he said.
Shoch doesn't blame Marise or Herb.
"She (Herb) was just making a request for an employee. Her part of the form would have been filled out beforehand. At that point, it's the job of the salary board," he said.
But Clausi said Shoch is missing the whole picture.
At a Feb. 23, 2010, salary board meeting, all 125 non-union full-time employees in the county were approved to receive at least a 3 percent salary increase. Employees who earned less than $25,000 were set to receive $2,000 up to $25,500, or a 3 percent increase, whichever was greater.
At the time, Marise was employed in the commissioner office, and then was appointed the assistant registrar in May 2010 at a salary of $19,901.
She was still under probationary evaluation, and was not given raises at the time, and now she has been given step increases each year to bring her up to $25,500, Clausi said.
Marise is a single mother with children who makes $15,930 after taxes, the commissioner said.
"If Mr. Shoch wants to complain about a poor woman like that when he voted to keep the row officers salaries, then shame on him," Clausi said.
At a special meeting Oct. 1, Clausi and Bridy voted to reduce the salaries, which are all above $50,000, of most elected officials by 42.4 percent to 48.4 percent. Shoch voted against this motion.
Marise declined comment for this report. Since the information was provided after normal business hours Friday, attempts to reach Herb for comment were unsuccessful.