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HomeNewsArchivesTURNBULL LIFTS COMMISSIONER PAY CEILING TO $97K

TURNBULL LIFTS COMMISSIONER PAY CEILING TO $97K

Nov. 6, 2001 – Saying he wanted to ensure that top government officials would be paid more than their subordinates, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull set new salary ceilings Monday for upper echelon appointees, called exempt employees in government parlance.
In a press release distributed late Monday night, Turnbull said that "equity and sound managerial practices" call for salary levels such that top administrators do not make less money than the people they supervise.
The governor set a ceiling of $97,000 a year for commissioners, directors of the Management and Budget Office and of Personnel and "people in similar authority." This represents an increase of $32,000 from the current ceiling.
The new ceiling for assistant commissioners and people with similar jobs is $92,000 a year. That for deputy commissioners and similar officials is $87,000.
The administration's chief union negotiator, Karen Andrews, said the governor will set the salaries for each of these appointed employees. "He's working on it now," she said.
Commissioners are now paid a maximum of $65,000 a year and so could be looking at a 50 percent increase in salary. Andrews said assistant and deputy commissioners' salaries vary by department, so it is not possible to quantify their raises.
The governor also gave raises to the non-union rank and file employees at the Inspector General's Office, the Internal Revenue Bureau and the Management and Budget Office. Those employees, who had not received raises since 1991, bringing them on step.
According to James O'Bryan, assistant to the governor for public affairs and policy initiatives, this means that the workers have just gotten a 7 percent increase for every year since 1991. He said this brings those employees up to par with unionized employees who got raised to their step on Sept. 23.
Andrews said the money for all the raises was listed to the tune of $44 million in the Fiscal Year 2002 budget and $10 million in the F.Y. 2001 budget.
Neither the union nor the non-union workers received lump-sum retroactive payments for the years they went without raises. The unions had negotiated increases, but the perennially cash-strapped government did not have the money to pay them.
Andrews said the government owes about $300 million in retroactive pay. She said there are fewer than 100 rank-and-file people affected by the non-union raises and that commissioners and other top managers account for about 9 percent of the workforce.
The disparity between the salaries of commissioners and those of their top management staff came about on Oct. 18, when the government paid raises due in 13 union contracts, Andrews said. "The highest-paid captain in the Police Department now made $84,523," she said. Police Commissioner Franz Christian's salary was $65,000 a year, nearly $20,000 less than his subordinate. She cited a similar example in the Education Department, where the highest-paid principal will make $80,517 a year once a contract is finalized. Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds makes $65,000.
"Morale is affected by this," Andrews said.
She said the people who got the hefty raises were career employees who had worked their way up the ranks to managerial positions. This is the first salary increase they have had since former Gov. Alexander Farrelly gave them a raise in 1990.
However, some high-ranking government employees benefited from a policy instituted under former Gov. Roy L. Schneider of paying what Andrews termed a "stipend" in addition to their salaries.
Andrews said that although the V.I. economy is facing hard times, the raises were justified, given the high cost of living in the territory. She said that the problem of low salaries is apparent in places such as the Justice Department, which has had trouble hiring attorneys to prosecute cases. If a contract with the Seafarers International Union goes through, the most senior attorneys in that department — those with more than 15 years of experience — will be paid $84,600. Without the new salary level for the attorney general, the new contract would have had those attorneys making nearly $20,000 more than their boss.
O'Bryan said that there is no truth to rumors that Turnbull also was raising the salary of the governor to $150,000 a year from the current $80,000. By law, O'Bryan said, the Senate must approve salary increases for the governor and lieutenant governor.

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Nov. 6, 2001 - Saying he wanted to ensure that top government officials would be paid more than their subordinates, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull set new salary ceilings Monday for upper echelon appointees, called exempt employees in government parlance.
In a press release distributed late Monday night, Turnbull said that "equity and sound managerial practices" call for salary levels such that top administrators do not make less money than the people they supervise.
The governor set a ceiling of $97,000 a year for commissioners, directors of the Management and Budget Office and of Personnel and "people in similar authority." This represents an increase of $32,000 from the current ceiling.
The new ceiling for assistant commissioners and people with similar jobs is $92,000 a year. That for deputy commissioners and similar officials is $87,000.
The administration's chief union negotiator, Karen Andrews, said the governor will set the salaries for each of these appointed employees. "He's working on it now," she said.
Commissioners are now paid a maximum of $65,000 a year and so could be looking at a 50 percent increase in salary. Andrews said assistant and deputy commissioners' salaries vary by department, so it is not possible to quantify their raises.
The governor also gave raises to the non-union rank and file employees at the Inspector General's Office, the Internal Revenue Bureau and the Management and Budget Office. Those employees, who had not received raises since 1991, bringing them on step.
According to James O'Bryan, assistant to the governor for public affairs and policy initiatives, this means that the workers have just gotten a 7 percent increase for every year since 1991. He said this brings those employees up to par with unionized employees who got raised to their step on Sept. 23.
Andrews said the money for all the raises was listed to the tune of $44 million in the Fiscal Year 2002 budget and $10 million in the F.Y. 2001 budget.
Neither the union nor the non-union workers received lump-sum retroactive payments for the years they went without raises. The unions had negotiated increases, but the perennially cash-strapped government did not have the money to pay them.
Andrews said the government owes about $300 million in retroactive pay. She said there are fewer than 100 rank-and-file people affected by the non-union raises and that commissioners and other top managers account for about 9 percent of the workforce.
The disparity between the salaries of commissioners and those of their top management staff came about on Oct. 18, when the government paid raises due in 13 union contracts, Andrews said. "The highest-paid captain in the Police Department now made $84,523," she said. Police Commissioner Franz Christian's salary was $65,000 a year, nearly $20,000 less than his subordinate. She cited a similar example in the Education Department, where the highest-paid principal will make $80,517 a year once a contract is finalized. Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds makes $65,000.
"Morale is affected by this," Andrews said.
She said the people who got the hefty raises were career employees who had worked their way up the ranks to managerial positions. This is the first salary increase they have had since former Gov. Alexander Farrelly gave them a raise in 1990.
However, some high-ranking government employees benefited from a policy instituted under former Gov. Roy L. Schneider of paying what Andrews termed a "stipend" in addition to their salaries.
Andrews said that although the V.I. economy is facing hard times, the raises were justified, given the high cost of living in the territory. She said that the problem of low salaries is apparent in places such as the Justice Department, which has had trouble hiring attorneys to prosecute cases. If a contract with the Seafarers International Union goes through, the most senior attorneys in that department -- those with more than 15 years of experience -- will be paid $84,600. Without the new salary level for the attorney general, the new contract would have had those attorneys making nearly $20,000 more than their boss.
O'Bryan said that there is no truth to rumors that Turnbull also was raising the salary of the governor to $150,000 a year from the current $80,000. By law, O'Bryan said, the Senate must approve salary increases for the governor and lieutenant governor.