EASTON, Pa. -

Northampton County Council restructured several financial positions in the county Thursday night, including one that gave a $20,000 raise to the daughter of county president Peg Ferraro.

While no one questioned the credentials of Mary Alice Einfall, an accountant in the county’s fiscal affairs department who is also Ferraro’s daughter, two council members criticized the timing of the 30 percent raise, given the repeated warnings from County Executive John Brown that structural spending must be curbed to fix the county’s “unsustainable” fiscal problems.

In rearranging the positions, including the assignment of new duties to Einfall, whose salary will jump from $66,504 to $87,307, Brown has said taxpayer money will be saved in the long run.

But it was not only the pay raise that rankled council members Lamont McClure and Ken Kraft. They said Ferraro called fellow council members about the proposed changes before the vote, a move they claimed is a “potential problem regarding the (state) Ethics Act.”

“Are you alleging some kind of misconduct?” asked councilman Seth Vaughn.

“I don’t know what you mean,” McClure answered. Ferraro did not engage, said they were “out of line,” then quickly called for a vote and abstained.

Referring to the alleged phone calls, McClure said Ferraro “should not have been involved in that process.” McClure said he did not receive a call but he heard others did.

Besides the promotion for Einfall, which Kraft said essentially means “everyone is reporting to her,” council also approved  a new position of fiscal administrator for the Department of Human Services with a salary range of $73,064 to $103,955.

Council also approved the elimination of the Human Services operations and planning coordinator, a job that paid between $48,282 and $68,279, and reduced by $336 the annual salary, from $95,341 to $95,005, for the fiscal administrator at Gracedale, the county’s nursing home.