The Somerset County Commissioners and Treasurer are arguing over which bank millions of dollars should be invested in.
“Our stand is, we’re doing what commissioners are supposed to do,”
The funds, coming from American Rescue Plan dollars (also known as COVID money), must be expended by 2026.
The commissioners made the decision to invest the funds with both First National Bank and Somerset Trust on 60 and 90 day certificates of deposit.
First National Bank gave the best rates out of the local banks they’ve talked to according to Somerset County Treasurer Anthony DeLuca.
So, he’s asking the commissioners, why isn’t all of the money going there?
“Why invest in something that you’re going to lose money in? That’s exactly what they want to do,”
According to DeLuca’s calculations, $25,000 a year would be lost on the deal, and that he will not approve the transfer.
The commissioners say that his figures are incorrect and that while a few hundred dollars would be lost it would be worth it because of their relationship with Somerset Trust.
“Somerset Trust is a Somerset County bank. Our partnership, I believe, goes way beyond decimal points,”
“Is that being fiscally sound, 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,”
DeLuca says the commissioners have been conducting business behind closed doors.
Somerset County Solicitor Michael Barbera says DeLuca is “mistaken in both law and fact,” and that he should sign the papers.
“If he refuses to do that, the commissioners are really left with no choice but to pursue a mandamus action against the treasurer,”
Deluca was not permitted to vote on the issue at the commissioners meeting.
“They don’t want me to have any say in how the operation of the banks go. Under county code, it’s up to the treasurer as the guardian of the money. I’m responsible for that money,”
While both sides determine the best way to invest the dollars of the people of Somerset County.
“It’s county money. It’s the citizens of Somerset County. We’re not doing our due diligence if we don’t invest it properly,”
“I know it was wise of us to spread these dollars out and invest them in multiple banks,”