Mapp: Take Money From Peter To Pay Paul On Outstanding WAPA Debt
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Gov. Kenneth Mapp has asked the 31st Legislature to approve paying down our hospitals’ debt to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority with proceeds from a recent court settlement.
Mapp wants $4 million increments to be paid towards the amounts owed by Juan F. Luis Hospital and the Roy Lester Schneider Medical Center for their past due utility bills.
The $8 million total expenditure would come from funds the V.I. Public Finance Authority won in an $8.1 settlement with an unnamed law firm.
Mapp forwarded his proposal to the 31st Legislature on Wednesday afternoon.
“As the only two public hospitals in the territory, these two institutions continue to need the annual financial assistance of the central government in meeting a number of their obligations,” Mapp wrote in his transmittal letter to Senate President Neville James. “While we can debate the extent of this need, let’s suffice it to say that the need is real. Currently, both hospitals owe WAPA over $20 million collectively: the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center owes $12,085,850.64, and the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital owes $8,832,392.00.”
Mapp said that paying down the hospitals’ debt to WAPA was in the best interest of the public as its lack of cash reserves have made it financially unsound and lowered its ratings on the bond market.
“This infusion will translate into the VI Water and Power Authority being able to ensure stable and dependable power to the people of the Virgin Islands,” the Governor stated. “While these sums I am proposing to be appropriated to our hospitals are not a wholesale fix to all issues facing our territory’s hospitals, it is one of several steps I will be proposing to the senate this year. For the record, additional cash infusion to aid our hospitals is needed, and I will submit a plan for such aid in the near future. I want to underscore that this aid does not relieve the hospitals management teams from taking the necessary actions to achieve sound financial policies and better business practices.”
The governor is asking Senators to consider the measure during Friday’s planned session and hopes they will move to “consider the urgency of this matter.”
Mapp said that his financial team and the hospital leadership would be available to provide any necessary testimony on his proposal.