SUNBURY -- Emotions were running high at the Northumberland County Commissioners meeting Wednesday night when commissioners voted to slash salaries of elected county officials.
Taxpayers and elected row officers from the county coroner to sheriff stood up and spoke out before the votes. They said they are not part-time workers, and they deserve and need decent salaries.
"I can assure you that being sheriff is not a part-time job. Being the sheriff is not necessarily a nine-to-five job, but a 24-hour job, 365 days a year who can be called out anytime," said Northumberland County Sheriff Chad Reiner.
"I hope you realize that if you cut these jobs to part-time and cut the pay, you will have a price to pay for that because the consequences will come. You will be cleaning up a lot of lawsuits and I don't think you want to do that," said Regina Carey, a county employee.
Commissioners Stephen Bridy and Vinny Clausi voted yes to motions that cut salaries, except for the county controller.
The commissioners also cut their own pay and voted to have all elected county officials pay 50 percent of their medical benefits.
Commissioner Richard Shoch voted no to all the motions, calling the meeting a "dog and pony show."
He said he has talked to leaders in other counties who were shocked by what is happening in Northumberland County.
"Not one commissioner who came up to me and talked to me about this thought this was a good idea, and not only that, not a single business person who came up to me thought this was a good idea," said Shock.
Commissioners Clausi and Bridy said they are doing what they must to save the county money, provide for its taxpayers, and keep people from making politics a money-making career.
"An elected official provides a public service and should not be influenced by money as we have seen time and time again. From the top all the way down we've seen officials who make careers out of these things, that look for that, that look for that pension," said Commissioner Bridy.
The salaries take effect at the start of each newly-elected term.