SUNBURY — Northumberland County President Judge Robert Sacavage said Tuesday he will take the county commissioners to court if they slash $500,000 from the court’s budget next year.

“I will not stand for this,” said Sacavage, speaking at the weekly meeting of the county commissioners. “The court is a separate and equal part of the government.”

Sacavage first asked whether the sale of Mountain View Manor on Jan. 1 will pull the county out of debt, and when he was told it would give the county a positive fund balance, he asked why it was necessary to cut up to 50 county positions and possibly reduce the work week to four days.

“Will there be a tax cut?” he asked.

Commissioner Vinny Clausi said the taxpayers deserve a tax cut, which he had promised would take place.

“What about the negative effect on our courts?” demanded Sacavage, citing the inability of the juvenile court system to effectively place and treat young offenders.

The court system’s 2009 budget was $6.1 million, he said, and the proposed 2010 amount is just $5.5 million.

“Do you want to put the courts out of business? This act is unconstitutional,” he said.

Sacavage earlier took the commissioners to task when they agreed to pay the increases in property taxes on the Center Street office complex leased from Penn Seiple.

“This was an agreement with the previous commissioners,” Clausi pointed out.

Under the terms of the lease for the properties, he said, the county must pay any increases in the property taxes. Clausi said the increase was about $80,000 and was a line item in the general fund.

He said a renegotiated lease with Seiple saved the taxpayers a lot of money, but Sacavage wasn’t buying that argument.

“I have a parole officer over there, and you say I have to pay $800 for someone’s property taxes from my budget?” he asked.

During a meeting of the salary board held before the commissioners’ meeting, Prothonotary Kathleen Strausser asked the salary board to change the pay grade of Geraldine Yagle. Strausser had promoted Yagle to first deputy after her original second deputy was eliminated by the commissioners.

Strausser said Yagle’s 34 years of experience is invaluable and she noted that Yagle often works off the clock to complete assignments. Her salary as second deputy was $32,451, and Strausser asked that she be placed at $33,071, the closest rate to her old position.

“Her position was eliminated to save money in the budget,” Clausi said. “This is the wrong direction to balance the budget.”

Clausi maintained that the first step on the salary scale for the first deputy prothonotary, $21,734, should be Yagle’s pay since she was starting in that potion.

“It’s a matter of principle,” he said. “We eliminated a position. It no longer exists. We’re giving her an $11,000 raise.”

The board voted 4-1, with Clausi dissenting, to grant the change in position at the requested salary.

The commissioners also reversed a decision made at the Nov. 17 meeting to eliminate a clerical position in the tax claims bureau. According to Frank Sawicki, chairman of the county commissioners, an error was made during that meeting by eliminating a union position.

On Tuesday, the commissioners reinstated the clerical position and instead did away with a non-agreement finance officer position.

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