The argument between the Somerset County Commissioners and Treasurer over where $25 million of county money should be invested has turned into a legal battle.
Both parties have filed lawsuits against each other in recent days, leaving the decision in the hands of the court.
We sat down Wednesday with Somerset County Treasurer, Tony DeLuca, and his Solicitor, Attorney David Leake, to learn where the case stands now.
“We’re not talking about the Treasurer’s money. We’re not talking about the Commissioners’ money. We’re talking about the money of the taxpayers of Somerset County. This is the county’s money. It’s our responsibility and Mr. Deluca’s responsibility to make sure taxpayer money is producing income properly,”
The Commissioners decided to split that money among First National Bank and Somerset Trust.
DeLuca says, since First National Bank offered the best rates, the Commissioner’s decision would make the county lose money.
“You’re not in business to lose money. You’ve got to run this county like a business. When you lose money, it’s ridiculous,”
The $25 million is made up of taxpayer dollars and COVID-19 relief funds.
DeLuca says the Commissioners haven’t been letting him vote on where the money goes, and have made decisions behind his back.
“Under the county code, specifically section 1762, the treasurer has a say in the investment of funds,”
“All we’re simply requesting is that Mr. DeLuca be able to have a say and have a vote empowered by the county code in order to make sure that this money is invested, and it’s invested properly,”
DeLuca expressed his frustration at the Commissioners meeting last month.
“Is that being fiscally sound and responsible that we’re going to lose money?”
“Our partnership with Somerset Trust goes way beyond any interest rate that you could ever get from any bank,”
“As this matter involves pending litigation, however, the County will not be commenting at this time. Our pleadings speak for themselves. The matter is in the Court’s hands now,”
Leake says the ruling will set a precedent for all of Pennsylvania, as to who has more power within a county to make financial decisions: Commissioners or Treasurers.
“Fighting for the taxpayers of Somerset County, and making sure the best investment is made, is important to me and very important to Mr. DeLuca,”