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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, December 6, 2023


"Everyone making over $30,000 a year should take a 10 percent pay cut and they should volunteer to do it," was one solution to the territory's crushing financial crisis. It was offered by Amadeo I.D.Francis, director of finance of the Public Finance Authority, at a preliminary budget review meeting Tuesday.
The administration's fiscal officers were hammered with questions by members of the Legislature's Finance Committee about Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's Fiscal Year 2000 budget, presented to the Legislature at the end of May.
A major concern Tuesday was the unbalanced budget now being considered due to the Governor's withdrawal of the proposal to cut government workers from an 80-hour pay period to 75 hours. The measure would have resulted in a savings to the government of $20 million a year.
Ira Mills, acting director of Management and Budget, said the Governor has plans to implement other cost-saving measures in each department that would make up for some of the shortfall. He also said there are plans to institute new revenue-collection measures.
Mills also indicated that the Governor has met with potential investors and said something should be "forthcoming soon on that."
Bernice Turnbull, acting commissioner of Finance, said, "After we pay payroll we try to pay vendors as cash becomes available." Asked how much the government currently owes to vendors, Turnbull said, "Fifty-one million dollars."
Sen. Roosevelt David said there was no question in his mind that the government was headed for a "fiscal and financial collapse."
Sen. Lorraine Berry, chairman of the Finance Committee, said, "Traditionally every administration is prone to inflating or deflating revenue projections and many officials, during budget hearings, claim they cannot supply senators with requested information, claiming it is not readily available or requires further research. This preliminary overview will go a long way toward precluding that unproductive and sometimes stonewalling practice."
But speakers seemed quite clear that this financially strapped government was in dire straits and only serious belt-tightening and renewed collections efforts could save it.
Sen. Gregory Bennerson said, "I'm sitting here wondering when the crash is going to occur."
Budget hearings are scheduled to begin July 27.

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