To the editor: During the past six years that I have served the citizens and taxpayers of Northumberland County as commissioner, I worked and fought for the taxpayers to eliminate waste and corruption. My record of cutting waste and cleaning up Northumberland County stands for itself as I have fought to reduce the budget by eliminating waste and corruption at the county level. As a result of my efforts on behalf of Northumberland County, many citizens have contacted me about waste and corruption in their local municipalities.

Recently, I have received several complaints from citizens of Shamokin concerning the waste of taxpayer funds. I have fought to get the information but am repeatedly thwarted by the powers that be who run the city. People know I do not give up easily. I have learned that the elected officials and solicitor of the city are receiving health benefits, the cost of which would clearly surprise the local taxpayers and may help explain why these officials have been going to court to secure 5-mill increases in taxes. Eliminating these benefits, perhaps, would keep the officials from having to secure repeated millage increases from the court and save taxpayers money.

As a county commissioner, I am aware of what it costs the county for an individual's health benefits. In the county, we are now paying approximately $23,000 per employee for a family health benefit plan and approximately 60 percent less than that for a single person plan. By my rough estimates, over the past seven years, the benefit packages for the mayor, councilmen and solicitor in Shamokin has cost taxpayers close to a half-million dollars. This is a disgrace, a waste of taxpayer money and, in my words, corruption of the highest order, and should be an embarrassment to these officials.

They keep trying to silence me, but as citizens are aware, no one silences and stops Vinny when he's in a fight for the taxpayers. If my figures are in error or greatly off the mark, I challenge the elected officials of Shamokin to set the record straight as to how much taxpayer money is being spent for their benefits.

Speaking of embarrassments, anyone who has driven through the 600 block of Route 61 the past two months gets a firsthand view of another mess, an eyesore and another embarrassment to the city. Many citizens driving past this mess have complained to me about the danger it poses to them and how it is an eyesore and blemish on our community and county. They have asked if there is anything the commissioners' office can do. I am contacting PennDOT on their behalf to see if the agency can stir city officials into taking action.

I have always fought for the citizens of the county and will continue to do so even when my term as commissioner expires in two years. I will never retire from my fight on behalf of the citizens of our county, no matter where they reside and no matter who I must take on in their behalf.

Vinny Clausi

Chairman

Northumberland County Board of Commissioners