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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, June 27, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesWAPA BOARD ASKS TO MEET WITH TURNBULL ON $1M

WAPA BOARD ASKS TO MEET WITH TURNBULL ON $1M

Armed with a legal opinion bolstering their independence, members of the V.I. Water and Power Authority board have requested a meeting with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in order to formally consider allotting the $1 million his legislation appropriated from WAPA to pay teachers.
Electric and water consumers will ultimately foot the bill, they said.
Andrew Rutnik, who serves on the board by virtue of his position as commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, said Sunday he and the other government members on the board already have spoken with Turnbull.
"He wants to meet with the board and explain the case," Rutnik said. He indicated he expects the board to agree to the $1 million contribution, but said that they believe the step of "requesting it formally" should be taken.
WAPA received an opinion last week from its contracted attorney, Arturo Watlington Jr., that the bill passed by the Legislature "completely usurps the authority of the board" and constitutes improper interference with the utility.
"Virgin Islands common law has continually held that WAPA is an autonomous instrumentality of the Government," Watlington wrote. "Its being is wholly separate and apart from the government."
The legislation also took money from the Insurance Guaranty Fund, the Port Authority and the West Indian Co., for a total of $11 million to go towards teachers' salaries.
Watlington noted that the language of the bill was amended before passage to allow for a "voluntary contribution" rather than "a direct appropriation" from the Port Authority, an entity with a status similar to WAPA's.
WAPA board members have said consumers will end up paying the $1 million, whatever it is called.
Rutnik said no one has determined just how soon the cost would be passed on to consumers, but added that it probably will not amount to a big hike in individual bills. "I think the number that was mentioned was maybe a 1 percent" increase, he said.

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Armed with a legal opinion bolstering their independence, members of the V.I. Water and Power Authority board have requested a meeting with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in order to formally consider allotting the $1 million his legislation appropriated from WAPA to pay teachers.
Electric and water consumers will ultimately foot the bill, they said.
Andrew Rutnik, who serves on the board by virtue of his position as commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, said Sunday he and the other government members on the board already have spoken with Turnbull.
"He wants to meet with the board and explain the case," Rutnik said. He indicated he expects the board to agree to the $1 million contribution, but said that they believe the step of "requesting it formally" should be taken.
WAPA received an opinion last week from its contracted attorney, Arturo Watlington Jr., that the bill passed by the Legislature "completely usurps the authority of the board" and constitutes improper interference with the utility.
"Virgin Islands common law has continually held that WAPA is an autonomous instrumentality of the Government," Watlington wrote. "Its being is wholly separate and apart from the government."
The legislation also took money from the Insurance Guaranty Fund, the Port Authority and the West Indian Co., for a total of $11 million to go towards teachers' salaries.
Watlington noted that the language of the bill was amended before passage to allow for a "voluntary contribution" rather than "a direct appropriation" from the Port Authority, an entity with a status similar to WAPA's.
WAPA board members have said consumers will end up paying the $1 million, whatever it is called.
Rutnik said no one has determined just how soon the cost would be passed on to consumers, but added that it probably will not amount to a big hike in individual bills. "I think the number that was mentioned was maybe a 1 percent" increase, he said.