City of Pittsburgh files lawsuit against ICA for gambling money

Pittsburgh's financial oversight board has yet to turn over casino revenue

PITTSBURGH — The city of Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit Thursday afternoon in its ongoing fight to get control of gambling revenue the city’s financial oversight board has been withholding.

Target 11's Rick Earle reported that the legal maneuver came after the chairman of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which monitors the city's money and approves or denies its operating budget, sent a strongly worded letter calling out Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

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In the letter, ICA chairman Nicholas Varischetti criticized Peduto for reportedly spending $500,000 on refurbishing his office while city fire and EMS stations are falling apart. Over the past few months, the deteriorating conditions of those buildings were examined during several Target 11 investigations.

"Spending money on the mayor's office while ignoring the unsafe and unsanitary conditions in duty stations of those who risk their lives is a serious signal. It more than suggests that this administration's spending priorities are misplaced,” Varischetti wrote.

Varischetti's latest response comes after Peduto lashed out at the ICA, accusing it of illegally withholding more than $11 million in casino revenue that’s already been earmarked for the city.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday, the city is asking a judge to fore the ICA to release the funds, claiming that withholding the money is “in violation of their statutory obligations and will cause irreparable financial harm.”

Peduto told Earle Wednesday that without the money, the city could miss paying some important bills.

“We're going to stand up for the rights of the city taxpayers who have money that has been promised to them, that is part of budget that stays within that and makes sure our bond rating isn't affected,” he said.

The complaint also noted the ICA's withholding of the funds "is contrary to and in violation of their statutory obligations" and will "cause irreparable financial harm by preventing the city from operating within and in accordance with the approved budget and recovery plan."

Earle reported that the city is seeking a court injunction ordering the ICA to release the money immediately.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, a judge was not yet scheduled to hear the case.

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