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EASTON, Pa. – Future officeholders in Northampton County will get a bump in their salaries — or at least some of them will.

During its Thursday night meeting, Northampton County Council voted to override County Executive Lamont McClure's vetoes of salary raises for the county controller and commissioners, though the raises would only take effect with the next officeholders.  

The salary for the controller, the county's fiscal watchdog, will go to $85,000, up from $65,000. The current Controller Richard "Bucky" Szulborski will not get the raise, but his successor will.

Commissioner John Cusick pointed out that when the job became vacant last year, Szulborski was the only applicant. Cusick said a higher salary might attract more people to the job.  

"The controller's pay was not a good representation of the work they do," new Commissioner John Goffredo said. The job requires knowledge of finance and audits. 

Council also overrode the veto of an increase in salaries for the commissioners, the title newly given to members of council. Annual pay will go to $12,500 from $9,500, again for the next generation of office holders, not current commissioners. The president of council will be paid an extra $500 annually. 

Raising salaries for elected officials is always a difficult subject, commissioners noted, but Cusick said there has been no increase in 14 years.  

"Nobody runs for it for a wage," Commissioner Kevin Lott said, as council tried to balance public service versus compensation.  

McClure's veto of a raise for the next executive to $120,000 from $85,000 stood up, even though Cusick noted that salary has not gone up in 16 years. Council President Lori Vargo Heffner said that the executive is paid less than some department heads.  

Commissioners Brown and Tara Zrinski said the $120,000 was chosen arbitrarily, and both suggested a more scientific approach at setting the compensation for an official who administers a budget of more than $500 million and directs 2,000 employees.

Commissioner Kerry Myers said an $85,000 salary for the job is ridiculously low. Council can revisit the salary review later. 

Also during Thursday's meeting, McClure said the county will explore creating its own health bureau, which could be funded by federal American Rescue Plan pandemic relief money.

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