PFA Leaves GERS Waiting

Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp took a break from the Public Finance Authority meeting Monday to sign into law a bill authorizing borrowing $247 million. He then returned to the meeting and worked out with board members and bond counsel the details of how to get some of that money.

The $100 million designated for the Government Employees Retirement System, however, was left out of the mix.

“If the GERS employees are waiting for that money, they better pack a lunch,” Mapp said.

He added that he was “not prepared to hand wads of cash” to GERS under its present structure.

The board authorized its representatives to negotiate the sale of $147 million in bonds. This would include $116 million for central government operating expenses and $6 million for operating expenses for the Waste Management Authority. Also included is $25 million of the hospitals, with 30 percent of the hospitals’ money obligated to paying the hospitals’ overdue utility bills with the Water and Power Authority.

The bill Mapp signed into law Monday was passed by the legislature in an emergency session last Thursday. A similar bill had been passed by the legislature in September but Mapp did not sign it because he wanted revisions.

The morning meeting held at the PFA offices on King Street in Christiansted got off to an odd start as Mapp requested that the board appoint him to the West Indian Company board. He pointed out that Randolph Knight had recently resigned as his chief of staff and as a board member of WICO. Mapp said he did not want to be chairman of the board, nor did he want to be a permanent member. He said he was looking only to serve three or four months.

He added that he would not be setting a precedent as other governors have sat on the WICO board.

However, board counsel Yvette D. Ross-Edwards said she felt uncomfortable with the PFA board appointing Mapp to the WICO board while Mapp was chairing the PFA board. If Mapp would have left the meeting, the board would not have a quorum. After discussion it was learned that WICO board had the power to make appointments to its own board and it was decided that that would be the proper way to proceed.

Gov. Mapp also spoke out when the board moved to approve $50,000 additional funds for renovation and repairs to Government House.

“This has nothing to do with me," he said. "This is where the public goes.”

He said the buildings were old and if repairs were not made now, the costs would be higher later.

The board also approved $750,000 for wastewater treatment facilities. 

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