The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 20, 2013

Commissioner: Northumberland County shutdown would hurt credit rating

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — The Northumberland County commissioners met on Tuesday and, as expected, a vote to adopt the $72 million budget for 2014 didn’t pass.
In fact, it never took place.

Commissioner Steve Bridy made a motion to adopt the proposed spending plan, but it never received a second.

Commissioner Rick Shoch didn’t speak when Bridy made his motion, and with the absence of Commissioner Vinny Clausi, who is out of the state on business, the motion failed.

Then Bridy spoke.

“If we do not pass a budget and this county is shut down we will default on payments and it will affect our credit score,” Bridy said. “Both of you are playing politics.”

At the Nov. 7 commissioners meeting, Clausi, who is in favor of the budget, objected to Shoch’s reservations about the spending plan. 
He told Shoch to either come up with his own budget or approve the one before the board.
“If you vote no, then so will I,” Clausi told Shoch. “I will stick with you. If you want to shut the county down, then so be it.”
“Mr. Shoch is saying it is my budget and I should vote for my budget but I am agreeing with Mr. Shoch and giving him the opportunity to fix what he thinks is wrong. Mr. Shoch is the one who is playing politics. How can you vote yes to pay the bills and then no to the budget?” Clausi said via telephone Tuesday. 
Shoch said he has problems with several items and contracts that are in the budget, including the 911 project and a deal that was made at the Northumberland County human services complex and the renegotiating of the lease by Clausi for the property.
“I started the budget update at our meetings and not once did Mr. Shoch say anything was wrong when we were updated,” Clausi said.
“So I don’t want to shut the county down but I will continue to vote with Mr. Shoch until he shows us a budget that he thinks is best.”
The Dec. 11 meeting would push commissioners past the required 20 days of advertising and force a budget vote in the early part of January.