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HomeNewsArchivesRETIREMENT FUNDS SECURED, VITRAN MONEY VETOED

RETIREMENT FUNDS SECURED, VITRAN MONEY VETOED

Pensions for former governors, lieutenant governors and Territorial Court judges are once again a reality with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's signing into law of legislation he submitted last month for the Senate's approval. Meantime, the governor has vetoed Senate measures to provide $1 million for Vitran personnel and to grant property tax exemptions to people owning inaccessible land in the V.I. National Park from.
Pensions for former governors, lieutenant governors and Territorial Court judges are once again a reality with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's signing into law of legislation he submitted last month for the Senate's approval.
The administration discovered in June that the Judges' Pension Fund and the Governors' and Lieutenant Governors' Retirement Fund were bankrupt, and had been for some time, and that the pensions had not been paid since April.
The legislature approved the governor's proposal to transfer $2.9 million in interest earned on last year's $300 million bond issue to the depleted funds. The bill passed unanimously in a session that, nonetheless, was far from harmonious. Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull revealed that the accounts were broke and that she had suspended the payments. The senators didn't take kindly to that action and grilled her extensively. Turnbull and Willis C. Todmann, acting director of the Government Employees Retirement System, took turns explaining that their agencies were in the process of reconciling their accounts.
Those affected by the legislation are former governors Juan Luis, Alexander Farrelly and Roy L. Schneider, former lieutenant governors Derek Hodge and Kenneth Mapp, and retired judges Verne Hodge, Eileen Petersen, Henry Feurezeig and Raymond Finch.
In a letter dated June 30 informing Senate president Vargrave Richards that he had signed the measure into law, Turnbull said, "The government will now be able to proceed with paying these retired government workers their annuities, which they so richly deserve."
The action was publicly announced two weeks later, in a Government House press release Thursday afternoon. It stated that before Turnbull left the territory on July 7 to attend a National Governors Association meeting in Pennsylvania, he signed the bill into law and also vetoed portions of another bill that would have:
– Appropriated $1 million from the Indirect Cost Fund to the Department of Public Works to rehire dismissed Vitran bus drivers and hire additional drivers for the separate handicapped service. The measure was proposed by Sen. Adelbert Bryan. The governor said he vetoed it because the amount would be insufficient to sustain Vitran operations through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Legislature post auditor Campbell Malone had said when the measure was before the Senate that he would like to see a reconciliation of the Indirect Cost Fund, and that he doubted the $1 million existed.
– Exempted from property taxes any St. John land owners lacking reasonable road access to their properties within the V.I. National Park boundaries. The measure was proposed by Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd.
The governor said he vetoed it because it would reduce a major revenue source for the St. John Capital Improvement Fund. He also said it would remove the incentive for property owners to continue efforts to seek access to their lands. Liburd was at a St. Croix meeting on Friday morning and could not be reached for comment.
A two-thirds majority, or 10 votes, in the Legislature is needed to overturn any veto by the governor.

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Pensions for former governors, lieutenant governors and Territorial Court judges are once again a reality with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's signing into law of legislation he submitted last month for the Senate's approval. Meantime, the governor has vetoed Senate measures to provide $1 million for Vitran personnel and to grant property tax exemptions to people owning inaccessible land in the V.I. National Park from.
Pensions for former governors, lieutenant governors and Territorial Court judges are once again a reality with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's signing into law of legislation he submitted last month for the Senate's approval.
The administration discovered in June that the Judges' Pension Fund and the Governors' and Lieutenant Governors' Retirement Fund were bankrupt, and had been for some time, and that the pensions had not been paid since April.
The legislature approved the governor's proposal to transfer $2.9 million in interest earned on last year's $300 million bond issue to the depleted funds. The bill passed unanimously in a session that, nonetheless, was far from harmonious. Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull revealed that the accounts were broke and that she had suspended the payments. The senators didn't take kindly to that action and grilled her extensively. Turnbull and Willis C. Todmann, acting director of the Government Employees Retirement System, took turns explaining that their agencies were in the process of reconciling their accounts.
Those affected by the legislation are former governors Juan Luis, Alexander Farrelly and Roy L. Schneider, former lieutenant governors Derek Hodge and Kenneth Mapp, and retired judges Verne Hodge, Eileen Petersen, Henry Feurezeig and Raymond Finch.
In a letter dated June 30 informing Senate president Vargrave Richards that he had signed the measure into law, Turnbull said, "The government will now be able to proceed with paying these retired government workers their annuities, which they so richly deserve."
The action was publicly announced two weeks later, in a Government House press release Thursday afternoon. It stated that before Turnbull left the territory on July 7 to attend a National Governors Association meeting in Pennsylvania, he signed the bill into law and also vetoed portions of another bill that would have:
– Appropriated $1 million from the Indirect Cost Fund to the Department of Public Works to rehire dismissed Vitran bus drivers and hire additional drivers for the separate handicapped service. The measure was proposed by Sen. Adelbert Bryan. The governor said he vetoed it because the amount would be insufficient to sustain Vitran operations through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Legislature post auditor Campbell Malone had said when the measure was before the Senate that he would like to see a reconciliation of the Indirect Cost Fund, and that he doubted the $1 million existed.
– Exempted from property taxes any St. John land owners lacking reasonable road access to their properties within the V.I. National Park boundaries. The measure was proposed by Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd.
The governor said he vetoed it because it would reduce a major revenue source for the St. John Capital Improvement Fund. He also said it would remove the incentive for property owners to continue efforts to seek access to their lands. Liburd was at a St. Croix meeting on Friday morning and could not be reached for comment.
A two-thirds majority, or 10 votes, in the Legislature is needed to overturn any veto by the governor.