The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 8, 2014

Northumberland County sheriff resigns; Cites salary cuts

SUNBURY — Citing the decision of “certain county commissioners” to cut his salary by 42.5 percent, longtime Northumberland County Sheriff Chad Reiner on Wednesday said he would quit his post effective Jan. 24.

Reiner’s salary of $53,834 is not scheduled to decrease until Jan. 1, 2016 — after the 2015 general election.

After that, the sheriff’s salary would drop to $31,000.

Salary cuts for four other row officers are on hold because of a court injunction. Reductions for the coroner and register and recorder would have become effective Jan. 1 because they ran in the 2013 general elections.

In addition to the salary cuts, the new policy would require all row officers to pay 50 percent of the county’s cost for their health benefits. For someone with a family plan, costs would almost quadruple, from $241 to $873 a month.

That salary decision “forced me to re-evaluate my career on a long-term basis,” Reiner said in a letter that accompanied his formal resignation note. “I have an obligation to obtain a salary capable of sustaining my family. As much as I love being sheriff, family will always come first.”

Reiner faxed his letter of resignation to county human resources director Joseph Picarelli, as well as to Gov. Tom Corbett, Secretary of State Carol Aichele and to Commissioner Jonathan Marks, of the state bureau of commissions, elections and legislation.

“I am sorry to see him go,” said Northumberland County Commissioner Rick Shoch, who was the lone opposing vote to the salary cuts. “I had a good working relationship with him. The reasons he gave for resigning, these are the things I’ve been talking about. If you reduce these salaries this much, you are eventually not going to get qualified people who will view this as a full-time job. And over time... you will see good people leave. Still, I remain hopeful we can find and retain good people. A job like sheriff, if you want to do it right, it requires full-time participation.

“All of this was something very avoidable.”

Asked if he thought a salary of $31,000 might deter qualified people from applying for the sheriff’s position, Shoch said, “Only time will tell.”

Added Commissioner Steve Bridy: “I wish him the best. And for him to take a swipe at the salary is disingenuous at best. He has two complete years left under his current salary. It is a dereliction of duty to those who elected him to serve.”

Reiner always said he wanted to do what was right for the taxpayers, said Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi, “but he is failing to mention to the public he applied for a federal job more than a year ago. It isn’t about the taxpayers to him, it is about the money. His salary wouldn’t have been cut until 2016 and that is even if he would have won re-election. Why didn’t he stay and finish his term? I find that interesting.”

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