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Mapp Promises ‘Untold Pain And Suffering’ If Government ‘Collapses Financially’ … Says It Will Be The End of GVI Insurance, GERS, WAPA and VIPA

CHARLOTTE AMALIE –- In a wide-ranging press conference held at Government House on St. Thomas Monday, Gov. Kenneth Mapp said that he will urge the Senate to resist calls for legislation which he deems “detrimental to the territory’s fiscal health.”

Mapp stressed that the territory is in dire straits, teetering on the brink of a permanent financial black hole and that when the Legislature offers up a bill that would allow retirees to offset retroactive pay claims by reducing their property tax payments, it shows that the senators elected to represent the people just don’t understand how desperate our current financial situation is.

“If the central government collapses financially, there will be no bailout or solvency of the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS),” Mapp said. If the central government collapses financially, the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) and probably the Port Authority (VIPA) will fall right behind it. If the central government collapses financially, health insurance benefits for government workers, retirees and their dependents will disappear. Those are just realities. And there’ll be untold pain and suffering throughout this territory.”

In other issues covered at the press conference, Mapp said that there is now only one Chief of Police in the territory, following a new management structure announced by Gov. Kenneth Mapp and Police Commissioner Delroy Richards St. at a Government House news conference on Monday.

Winsbut McFarlande, formerly St. Croix District Chief, is now responsible for police operations in each district.  Jason Marsh has been named Assistant Police Commissioner to head the Professional Standards Bureau. Until today’s announcement, Marsh served as St. Thomas/St. John District Chief.

The organizational changes are designed to bring the Police Department closer to compliance with the terms of a federal court supervised consent decree, which is a result of a lawsuit settlement obligating the Police Department to better train, manage and discipline its personnel.

As he focused on fiscal issues, Mapp said that he will urge the Senate to resist calls for legislation which he deems “detrimental to the territory’s fiscal health.” A measure under consideration would allow retirees to offset retroactive pay claims by reducing their property tax payments.  Mapp appealed to senators to “hold off on individual interests”, adding: “We need collective good will.”

“If the central government collapses financially, there will be no bailout or solvency of the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS),” he said. If the central government collapses financially, the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) and probably the Port Authority (VIPA) will fall right behind it. If the central government collapses financially, health insurance benefits for government workers, retirees and their dependents will disappear. Those are just realities. And there’ll be untold pain and suffering throughout this territory.”

Offering a review of his recent meetings with federal officials in Washington, Mapp said that he appealed to the Interior Secretary for funds to construct two new, smaller hospitals in the territory.  The capacity of the current facilities exceeds local needs, he said, as well as the local government’s ability to operate and maintain them.  He also met with officials of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to request adjustments in the fee schedule which specifies the amount the federal government reimburses the hospitals for treatment of patients insured through Medicare and Medicaid.

Mapp said the fees have remained unchanged for years, while the costs to provide covered services have increased steadily, meaning losses to the hospitals of $12 million each year.  The Governor said he met also with the Secretary of Education seeking to end the oversight of the Virgin Islands Department of Education by a third party fiduciary, which is costing the local government $3 million each year.  He also requested more timely allotment of $24 million in federal education grants to the territory, which are not received until six months into the fiscal year, making it impossible to utilize the funds within the required timeframe.

The governor explained his budget request for $750,000.00 to support more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents for the territory.  More agents, and a new airport floor plan will enable the faster processing of luggage and passengers.  Additional agents, he noted, also would position the territory to host cruise ships arriving from foreign ports without long delays upon arrival.  On board inspectors could clear passengers while underway.

Nelson M. Petty, Jr. has been named by Mapp as Assistant Commissioner, Department of Public Works, to oversee Engineering and Capital Projects.  In making the announcement, he said that “it is critical to focus on oversight of the many ongoing road projects in the territory.”

Mapp promised that rehabilitation work will continue on St. Thomas’ Main Street, despite the termination of the contract with Tip Top Construction.

He said that he plans to meet soon with area merchants to seek agreement on a schedule of work that will include daylight hours, in an effort to minimize the period of business disruption.

 

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

2 Comments

  1. afterwhilecrocodile
    July 26, 2017 at 6:49 AM — Reply

    How to avoid the imminent collapse of GERS. GVI Insurance, WAPA and VIPA???
    Answer: Time is no longer on your side, this is the path you have chosen to stay on and now, the end draws near…….
    It’s too late to undo the damage caused by excessive and reckless spending of the people’s money as well as the Federal dollars …….

    how

  2. August 7, 2017 at 9:39 AM — Reply

    How about we get rid of these idiots that got us in these dire straits with reckless and selfish spending and replace them with people that actually care (give a shit) and are responsible adults rather than full grown children. Mapp will send out a few tax returns, finally fix the roads that have been destroying our vehicles during his last run. Let’s see if we fall for it.

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