Cash payments to retirees for career accumulated excess leave will be budgeted separately, if a bill considered in committee Tuesday becomes law. Sen. Craig Barshinger, the bill’s sponsor, said that some employees have been forced to wait many months to receive payment for accrued excess annual leave upon retirement. By budgeting the sum in advance, Barshinger said, agencies could plan ahead and pay retirees sooner.
V.I. Government Personnel Director Kenneth Hermon testified against the bill in its present form, saying it required the government to set aside enough money for leave payments to all employees, not just enough for those likely to retire. Setting aside enough for all employees could cost $45 million, he said, while the government will actually have to pay out about $659,000.
Hermon suggested the bill [30-0158] be amended to just require the smaller sum be set aside in a fund for all government agencies.
What is at issue is only excess annual leave, accumulated year to year. Depending on seniority, V.I. government employees receive between four and eight hours of annual leave for every two weeks they work, according to Hermon’s testimony. When employees retire or resign, they get their accumulated leave in a lump sum payment. However, agencies do not set aside funding, trying instead to make payment with funds remaining for personnel costs for the position, Hermon said. As a result, sometimes agencies do not have enough cash on hand and employees have to wait.
Voting to send the bill on for further consideration were Sens. Donald Cole, Myron Jackson, Clifford Graham and Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly. Sens. Judi Buckley, Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Clarence Payne were absent.
The committee also sent on two government land leases for further consideration. One is a lease with the V.I. Tennis Association for Parcel "H" of Tract 1, Estate Nazareth, consisting of about 100,000 square feet. VITA plans to build six tennis courts, a pro shop and locker room.
The second lease is with Lew Henley Sewage Disposal for Parcel 17A-3, Estate Bovoni, with 46,250 square feet. This property is to be used to park equipment and a mobile trailer for storage and to build and run bio-diesel equipment.
The VITA lease has a 20-year term with four five-year options for renewal. Annual rent payments will be $12,000 per year. The lease includes a grace period while the nonprofit raises funds to build.
The Henley lease is also for 20 years with two five-year options for renewal. Rent is $23,125 per year. During the 18 month construction period, rent will be reduced by half.