Salary Board Addresses DA’s Requests

CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Salary Board addressed a pair of requests from District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. during Tuesday’s regular meeting.

First, the board unanimously approved to collapse the part-time assistant district attorney position, which was held by Trudy Lumadue, effective Dec. 12.

Commissioner John A. Sobel, chair, noted Lumadue will be leaving the district attorney’s office. He said the board would like to thank her for her years of service.

At that point, Sobel said that Shaw had also requested the creation of a full-time assistant district attorney position, effective Dec. 13, with an annual salary of $40,000.

Sobel asked the board if it wanted to hold off in addressing the request and to wait for Shaw to arrive at the meeting. Commissioner Joan Robinson-McMillen suggested the board separately address the position creation and salary.

Commissioner Mark B. McCracken said he believed there was a letter, which requested the full-time assistant district attorney to have a starting salary of a starting full-time assistant public defender.

According to Robinson-McMillen, the county had last hired a full-time assistant public defender in 2012. The starting salary, she noted, was $37,639.

Sobel said he didn’t believe it would be fair to create the full-time assistant district attorney position at a higher starting salary. He pointed out the full-time assistant public defender who was hired in 2012 is still employed by the county and probably just now making around $40,000.

Upon Shaw’s arrival at the meeting, he asked the board about the starting salary of a full-time assistant public defender, which Robinson-McMillen provided to him. He then asked about that of the law clerk.

Robinson-McMillen indicated the law clerk’s salary is $39,500 for 2015 pending final budget approval. She also pointed out that the law clerk serves both judges and plans to work for two years versus just one year.

Shaw said it was “wrong” for a law clerk to make more than an assistant district attorney who is licensed to practice law and who tries cases. He said the county needed to establish a standardized salary structure for public defenders, attorneys and law clerks.

McCracken said he believed it was fair to start the full-time assistant district attorney at the same starting salary as the last hired full-time assistant public defender. Shaw said he still planned to ask for $40,000, adding he’s interviewing candidates and it’s difficult to find and then to keep someone in an assistant district attorney position.

Sobel agreed with Shaw that the county needed to establish a consistent salary structure. “For too long, we’ve made salary decisions case-by-case … We have a hodge-podge, patchwork of salaries across the board,” he said.

“Everyone watches each other like a hawk and resents others for making more than they do. It is a problem for Clearfield County.”

So far as Shaw’s request, Sobel said he found the starting full-time assistant district attorney position to be comparable to that of a starting assistant public defender. Shaw said that the last hired assistant public defender started out at $37,639 and that was three years ago.

“The law clerk is making more,” said Shaw. “…It’s just wrong.” Sobel said when the salary was set for the law clerk the salary board took into consideration that the law clerk would be serving both judges.

Shaw then motioned for a full-time assistant district attorney with the salary to be $39,500 – the same as the law clerk (pending final budget approval) – for 2015. McCracken seconded the motion.

However, Shaw’s request failed to pass after a 3-2 vote. Sobel, Robinson-McMillen and Controller Tony Scotto opposed the motion while Shaw and McCracken voted in favor.

McCracken then motioned for a full-time assistant district attorney with the salary to be $37,639 for 2015, the same starting salary as that of the last hired assistant public defender. Scotto seconded the motion.

McCracken’s motion was approved by a 4-1 vote. Sobel, Robinson-McMillen, McCracken and Scotto voted in favor. Shaw cast the only opposing vote.

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