Judge Stops Reduction of Salaries…for Now

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SUNBURY -- A defeat Friday for the commissioners in Northumberland County who want to cut the salaries of most row officers in half. A judge told them after a hearing to keep the salaries where they are...at least for now.

Four row officers, including the coroner and sheriff, filed a lawsuit against Northumberland County to keep their full salaries. Friday, a judge from Centre County heard arguments from both sides and decided to temporarily stop the commissioners from cutting those salaries almost in half.

Northumberland County Coroner Jim Kelley and Treasurer Kevin Gilroy are two of four row officers involved in the lawsuit against Northumberland County.

Last month, Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Steve Bridy voted to save the county money by cutting the salaries of all but one of the row officers by almost 50 percent. Some of those cuts are scheduled to take effect in January.

"For too long and too many years, decades and decades, career politician have just stayed in office," Bridy said.

A judge from Centre County heard arguments from both sides and decided to stop the salary cuts from taking effect..for now.

"In my mind, this demonstrates that the court believes that we're right on our statutory interpretation," attorney Sam Stretton said.

Stretton represents the four row officers involved in the lawsuit. He argued the salary cuts were not equal because the county controller's salary was not reduced.

"The argument was pretty clear that they violated the statute, both on the cuts--they have to be equal and they weren't. And, it was also clear they violated the medical benefits," Stretton said.

"Why he ruled in this favor I do not know. We're going to go back, meet with our attorneys, discuss it further and come to the determination on the next legal battle," Bridy said.

Taxpayers in Northumberland County have different opinions on the issue.

"I think it's great. I think they should all get their salaries back," James Kodack said.

"If they're only working part-time, maybe their salaries should be cut. But, I know I would be mad if my salary was cut also," Rich Yanishak said.

This issue is far from over. The judge plans to hold a second hearing at some point and then make a final decision. After that, both sides have the right to appeal.

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