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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, June 21, 2024


July 27, 2003 — The Finance Department hosted Direct Deposit Expos on Saturday at Sunny Isle Shopping Center on St. Croix and Tutu Park Mall on St. Thomas.
On St. Croix, in an attempt to give workers a clear understanding of their options, the department arranged to have representatives of three banks set up booths and give information to the public on the merits of direct deposit and to entice potential clients to open accounts with their particular bank.
It would appear that government workers are resisting the coming mandatory change to direct deposit, if the scarcity of people visiting the booths in Saturday is any indication. Although three banks were scheduled to take part in the Expo, only Banco Popular and FirstBank participated; Bank of Nova Scotia did not.
A bill signed into law by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on July 12 provides that effective Jan. 1, 2004, all government workers' salary payments will be by direct deposit to the employees' banks. Paper checks will no longer be issued; employees instead will receive a printed record of the deposit made at the end of each pay period.
According to a statement released earlier, William Belardo, Finance Department payroll director, noted that about half of the approximately 10,000 government workers currently are paid by direct deposit, which the government has offered as an option since 1997. Some of those who continue to be paid by check do not have a checking or savings bank account, something they will have to acquire by the end of this year. Belardo estimated that going to all-direct deposit will save the government about $1 per payment in check-processing costs. He said the government issues about 300,000 checks per year.
At Sunny Isle, the two banks had on hand direct deposit sign-up sheets, rates and fee schedules, drive-through hours of operation, and the location of ATM machines. They sought to persuade potential customers to sign up for new accounts by offering free coffee mugs and a chance to win a prize in a drawing.
Bank representatives explained their institutions' procedures, the difference between savings and checking accounts, and the convenience of direct deposit. They pointed out that with direct deposit. The biggest advantage, they said, is that money is usually deposited in a person's account the night before payday and is available to the customer from 8 a.m. on payday — without the employee having to stand in long lines.
Government employees are encouraged to contact the bank of their choice to set up a direct-deposit account. Some banks are making it easier to sign up by encouraging potential customers to call ahead and provide some preliminary information over the telephone so less time will be required at the bank.

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