The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 5, 2010

Montour County presents case about DA pay

DANVILLE — An attorney representing Montour County in a lawsuit against the commonwealth and several elected officials in a dispute over reimbursements for district attorney pay said the judge hearing the case seemed to appreciate the inequity of the state’s failure to pay its share.

Rebecca Warren argued the case Tuesday in Harrisburg before Commonwealth Court President Judge Bonnie Leadbetter.

The judge is expected to issue an order to determine whether objections to the suit from state officials will be granted.

“If she grants any of the objections, it is possible some of the litigants can be removed from the case. The case will still proceed against the governor (Ed Rendell) and possibly other offices,” Warren, the acting DA, said following the arguments.

Montour County Commissioners Trevor Finn, Jack Gerst and Jerry Ward also attended the court proceeding in Harrisburg.

The county, in October, sued the state and others because the state has not paid its share of the district attorney’s salary.

“We had a very sympathetic judge who indicated she was sympathetic with Montour County’s plight and the failure of the commonwealth to honor its law and pay the 65 percent reimbursement of the salary that is falling back on the county taxpayers who can ill afford to shoulder that burden. She said she completely understood, and that it was not fair,” Warren said.

Warren is representing the county free of charge in the matter.

The arguments were held on preliminary objections filed by the General Assembly and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Representing the state was attorney Howard Hopkirk. Thomas Dymek represented the General Assembly. Greg Dunlap represented the governor’s office but raised no objections, Warren said.

When the county filed the suit, the commissioners said the state owed the county $208,000 for 2008 and 2009 for its share of the DA’s salary.

Robert Buehner Jr. is the Montour County DA. He is on leave and paying Warren to serve as acting DA out of his own pocket.

The state had agreed to foot 65 percent of DA’s salaries after DA positions were made full-time.

In addition to Rendell and the commonwealth, the county sued Attorney General Tom Corbett, Treasurer Rob McCord, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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