A new controversy was raised by Controller Melinda Kantner with the Schuylkill County Commissioners at their public meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville. Assistant county solicitor Edward Brennan brought the issue before the board of commissioners.

Brennan is on the county's negotiating team, which is currently dealing with reaching contracts with several unions representing county employees, the AFSCME union represents non-court related employees at the courthouse and Rest Haven Home and Hospital. There are two court-related unions, and a Teamsters union represents the correction officers and workers at the county prison.

Brennan told the commissioners he received a memo from Kantner claiming any negotiated contract that will include salary raises must be approved by the county salary board. Brennan and Kantner agree it is the commissioners that enter into the agreement of the contract, but Kantner seeks to take it a step further.

The primary members of the county salary board are the three commissioners and controller. When a salary is to be set for a person employed by the court, then President Judge William E. Baldwin sits on the salary board as a voting member. This also applies to any elected official when a salary is being set for an employee in their offices.

Brennan claims under Kantner's reasoning, when a contract is reached which involves several "row" officers, the commissioners would be outnumbered on the salary board. Brennan said he has court records to show that there is no need for a salary board to act on salaries set in a contract negotiated by the commissioners. Kantner differs with Brennan's interpretation of the law and it may be another court battle.

Other business

On behalf of the Office of Solid Waste and Resource Management, the commissioners awarded a contract to Eco International Vestal Company, N.Y., at $330 per pull and 14 cents per pound for recycling charges for electronics from the 10 collection centers in the county.

Action taken on personnel matters were as follows:

Mildred Dronitsky, 54 E. Savory St., Pottsville, was appointed a member of the Office of Senior Service Advisory Board for a three-year period ending Aug. 31, 2013.

Rest Haven Home Catherine Sansone, Landingville, hired as a part-time licensed practical nurse at $15.99 per hour; Kimberly Oravsky, Port Carbon, transferred from part-time nurse's aide to full-time nurse's aide at $12.0716 per hour; Alyssa Blankenhorn, Schuylkill Haven, was transferred from part-time GPN to full-time licensed practical nurse at $15.99 per hour. Sara Schaeffer, Schuylkill Haven, was terminated as a part-time nurse's aide.

Solid Waste Department Robert Marshall Jr., Minersville, resigned as a recycling truck driver.

Domestic Relations Department Cheryl McSurdy, Saint Clair, promoted from clerk 1 to secretary 1 at $18.32 per hour and Jillian Diane Symons, Minersville, appointed clerk 1 at $11.17 per hour.

Juvenile Probation Department Marliesa Eckley, Pottsville, transferred from district justice assistant 1 to secretary 11 at $13.6269 per hour.

Court Administration Department Robert Fox, Pottsville, hired as a court attendant for Judge Charles M. Miller at $8.5865 per hour.

Retirement board

A delegation from the retirees' association board of directors appeared before the Schuylkill County Employees Retirement Board at its meeting Wednesday which followed the commissioners' meeting to request a cost of living be added to their pensions in 2011, pointing out none has been received since 2007. The commissioners made no response but agreed to meet with the group after the meeting.

Kantner, secretary of the retirement board, reported the market value of the retirement board of Aug. 31 was $86,349,350. During the month, two members received annuities in the amount of $786,540.42; two members received rollovers totaling $19,296.27; and two retires passed away, with remaining annuities of $31.33.

The retirement board members are the three commissioners, Mantura Gallagher, Francis McAndrew and Frank Staudenmier, Kantner and treasurer Jacquelyn McGovern.