Board Reaches Consensus on Salaries for Judicial Secreatries, GIS Director
CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County’s Salary Board reached a consensus on this year’s salaries for two judicial secretaries and the GIS Director when it reconvened its deliberations this morning at the Clearfield County Administrative Offices.
When Chairperson Joan Robinson-McMillen opened the meeting, she told board members they were “going to get down to work,” and there wouldn’t be “any political grandstanding” for the press.
She then asked board members to propose motions for consideration so far as the salaries for the two judicial secretaries and the GIS Director. Board member John A. Sobel made the motion to approve salary increases in the amount of $2,500 for each judicial secretary and $1,500 for the GIS Director.
After being greeted with silence, Robinson-McMillen seconded the motion, so that the board could proceed with discussion.
So far as the judicial secretaries’ salaries, Sobel said that in 2009 in the Jefferson County Court-appointed Employees Association versus the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that the court has the constitutional duty to administer justice, and one of the court’s means of doing that is the hiring, firing and supervising of its employees.
“I think this falls within the same, and we have to give deference to that,” said Sobel. Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman said the case cited by Sobel was about the separation of power. He said the case was about whether the commissioners, as a legislative body, give the courts its budget for which the president judge can “basically do with it what he wants.”
Ammerman said even if the board doesn’t approve a salary for the judicial secretaries that he’s satisfied with, he has the legal ability to take the money from his budget and pay them what he wants to. However, he said he “didn’t want to do business like that” and would “much prefer” to work with the commissioners and the controller to reach a consensus.
At that point, board member Mark B. McCracken and Controller Tony Scotto pointed out that Sobel’s motion also included the GIS Director. Scotto said Ammerman could not vote on this motion, as it included the GIS Director. Scotto suggested that Sobel withdraw or amend this motion to separate the salary increase for the two judicial secreatries from that of the GIS Director.
Robinson-McMillen confirmed that Sobel could amend or withdraw his motion, and she could do the same for her second. Sobel subsequently amended his motion to only include the two judicial secreatries and again proposed a salary increase of $2,500 for each, which Robinson-McMillen seconded. The board voted down the motion, 3-2, with McCracken, Ammerman and Scotto voting against the same. Robinson-McMillen and Sobel voted in favor.
“For the record, that’s a similar motion with the same vote as the last meeting,” said Ammerman. Robinson-McMillen then sought a new motion and specifically asked Ammerman if he had his own to propose. Ammerman told the board he’d already indicated previously what he was looking for at the previous meeting.
Ammerman said he had the impression that the board wanted to deal with both judicial secreatries at the same time, which he was OK with. He said, “I’m kind of looking for a motion from one of you.” Robinson-McMillen then made the motion to increase the salary of Ammerman’s secretary by $3,000 and that of Judge Paul E. Cherry by $2,000. Ammerman seconded the motion and Robinson-McMillen sought discussion from the board.
Robinson-McMillen said the county had budgeted $5,000 for salary increases for the two judicial secreatries. She said the budget was balanced and it passed without any discussion.
“Nobody had any problems. Nobody had any stipulations. Nobody had any concerns when the budget passed,” said Robinson-McMillen. “Now, all of a sudden, we’re here in this meeting with people making statements and grandstanding for the press. Where do we go from here?”
Scotto said he wasn’t “grandstanding” for the press that he wanted fairness for the county’s employees. Robinson-McMillen said the board had a motion and a second, and she called for a vote. The board voted down this motion, 3-2, with Sobel, McCracken and Scotto against the same. Robinson-McMillen and Ammerman voted in favor.
At that point, Robinson-McMillen said they needed a motion from one of the three board members who had opposed the proposed motions. She said that Sobel had already attempted to make motions to the board.
“Now, one of you two needs to make a motion,” Robinson-McMillen told McCracken and Scotto. Then, Scotto made a motion for the two judicial secretaries to receive the same salary increase as all other employees, which is $750. After Scotto’s motion died for lack of a second, Robinson-McMillen sought a motion from McCracken, who said he didn’t have any proposal to offer the board.
Ammerman said Sobel had twice-proposed motions for salary increases of $2,500 for each judicial secretary. He understood that the board wanted to work within the budgeted $5,000; however, he made a motion for a salary increase of $2,750 for each judicial secretary. Sobel seconded the motion.
“That’s basically halfway,” said Ammerman. Robinson-McMillen said she knew where the funding would be coming from to cover, since this went a little over the budgeted $5,000.
The board approved this motion, 3-2, with Sobel, Robinson-McMillen and Ammerman voting in favor. McCracken and Scotto opposed the same.
When asked why he opposed, McCracken said he wanted the board to be more consistent in setting salaries and awarding salary increases to the county’s employees. He said he favored the two judicial secretaries getting a slightly larger raise than the other county employees; however, he didn’t favor it being as large as the proposed amount.
Robinson-McMillen then sought action for the GIS Director at which point Sobel proposed a salary increase of $1,500. Robinson-McMillen seconded the same; the board deadlocked at 2-2 when the motion was put to vote. Robinson-McMillen and Sobel voted in favor. McCracken and Scotto voted against.
Robinson-McMillen then made a motion to increase the GIS Director’s salary by $2,000. Scotto seconded her motion. The board deadlocked again at 2-2 after Robinson-McMillen and Scotto voted in favor and McCracken and Sobel opposed.
Robinson-McMillen said she intended to keep the meeting moving forward and made a motion for a salary increase in the amount of $1,750 for the GIS Director. When she didn’t receive a second from the board, she asked Scotto why he was OK with a $2,000 salary increase, but not $1,750. Scotto said he wanted to “go the other way” and approve the same as the judicial secreatries.
“He’s a director. He’s a department head. I want fairness. I’m not grandstanding,” said Scotto.
Scotto then made a motion for the GIS Director to get at least the same salary increase as the judicial secretaries, or $2,750. Robinson-McMillen seconded the motion and put it to vote. The board deadlocked again at 2-2 with Robinson-McMillen and Scotto voting in favor. McCracken and Sobel opposed.
At that point, Robinson-McMillen said the board would just continue to vote repeatedly on this salary issue. She said it was in the budget at $1,500, and Sobel made the motion at $1,500. She asked Sobel to repeat that motion, which he did and she seconded.
“Let’s discuss this. We’re not just going to sit here and vote ‘no’ or ‘yes,’” said Robinson-McMillen. McCracken said the board was back to its original motion, which was in the budget that he voted in favor of. He said he would change his vote for that reason.
The board approved this motion, 3-1, with Robinson-McMillen, Sobel and McCracken voting in favor. Scotto cast the lone nay vote.
In other business, the board:
- voted to approve the salary of Clearfield 911/EMA Director Joseph Bigar. Robinson-McMillen said Bigar had satisfactorily completed his certification test on Dec. 26. Once completed, she said his salary was to be set at $41,000 for which the state pays 50 percent.
- voted to ratify the salaries of the elected officials as previously set.