More Fallout After Commissioners Slash Salaries

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SUNBURY -- The salaries of eight row officers in Northumberland County were slashed Wednesday night, some by almost 50 percent.

The move by county commissioners leaves some of those elected officials wondering how they will get by.

By a vote of two to one, the Northumberland County Commissioners approved cutting the salaries of eight elected officials, including themselves. 

Commissioners say this will save the county more than $1 million over the next four years.  But some of the people whose salaries got slashed feel like they are being singled out.

It was business as usual in the recorder of deeds office at the Northumberland County Courthouse but workers are not happy after the salary of recorder Mary Zimmerman was cut by more than 40 percent.

"I just feel like I'm being punished because I have been a good employee," she said.

Zimmerman is now set to earn far less than recorders in similar sized counties.

The recorders of deeds in Lebanon and Lycoming Counties   each make more than $60,000. Zimmerman stands to make around $31,000.  She is one of eight row officers whose salaries were cut by the Northumberland County Commissioners.

Two out of the three commissioners voted to cut salaries by almost 50 percent in what they call a cost saving move.

The county controller was the only position whose salary was not cut.  Commissioner Vinny Clausi says this is because he feels the controller is the most important office in Northumberland County.  Clausi calls the controller the watchdog who controls the money.

In addition to cutting salaries, the commissioners voted for all elected officials to pay 50 percent of their medical benefits.

Chad Reiner has spent almost 10 years as sheriff of Northumberland County.  It is an elected position he says he loves, but he also says it's a lot of hard work.

"This isn't a 9 to 5 job.  I am on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year," Reiner said.

Reiner currently makes close to $54,000 year, but starting in 2016 the sheriff's salary will be slashed to $31,000.

The new salary will be far less than sheriffs in similar-sized counties.  The average salary for a sheriff in a county close to Northumberland's size is over $56,000.

Reiner's term as Northumberland County sheriff ends in a couple of years.  Reiner says, given the pay cut, he's not sure now if he'll run for relection.

"I just bought a house, I have a little 17-month-old boy, an 11-year-old boy.  It's a decision my family and I will have to make down the road," Reiner said.

"All in all, I think it's going to be hard for these people that did take that much of a hit.  Maybe they could have spread it out a little more," said Tony Covaleski of Kulpmont.

"I think it's a good idea they cut salaries but I don't think they should have cut them by as much as they did," said Jane Keefer.

"That's a lot of money. That would be like cutting my salary. I wouldn't know where to go," said Ed Strub.

As for Zimmerman, she says she loves her job as the recorder of deeds in Northumberland County.  She is running unopposed for a fourth term.

"I will still be on the ballot and I expect I will be taking the oath in January regardless of what the salary is."

The Northumberland County Commissioners say cutting these salaries will save the county around $300,000 per year.  The general fund of last year's budget was just over $21 million.

rgbOfficials in Schuylkill County were surprised by Northumberland County's cost cutting.