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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesFISCAL CRISIS WILL CONTINUE UNLESS WORKFORCE IS REDUCED

FISCAL CRISIS WILL CONTINUE UNLESS WORKFORCE IS REDUCED

The critical financial condition of the Virgin Islands government, which nearly forced the layoff of hundreds of government workers, could worsen before the end of the first quarter of the year 2000. The not-so-rosy assessment was offered by Management and Budget Director Ira Mills as he appeared Sunday night on public television’s "Behind the Headlines" program.
Mills suggested that "unless drastic steps are taken to reduce the size of government", when the funds on the recent $300 million loan runs out, it will be back to square one in terms of the government’s ability to cover its operational costs.
"But we can manage what we have and avoid the payless or delayed payday", he countered, noting that the territory has to "spend less than the revenues it takes in."
The budget director suggested that decisive action will be needed to reduce the government workforce.
He admitted that the steps which must be taken "will not necessarily please everyone but they must be effected to bring about change."
The administration’s point man on government finances also said that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and his key advisors have begun to review options that are not new to the elected officials as they look toward reducing the size of government.
"A reduced work week is one concept being discussed," Mills said, noting that in other financially strapped jurisdictions, management and employees have struck an agreement where although the work day will be reduced, the health insurance and retirement benefits will not be affected in terms of the employee’s contributions.
Though there have been discussions ongoing since Gov. Charles W. Turnbull took office about the necessity of cutting the payroll and reducing the workforce there is little evidence that any significant changes have been made.
Mills said some of the reduction could come from early retirement.
An early retirement incentive plan that was referenced in Turnbull's FY 2000 budget and for which money was allocated from the $300 million bond issue has never been formalized by either the administration or the Legislature.

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