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Wednesday, July 24, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsMapp Discusses Port of Mandahl, Government Salary Hikes at Rotary Meeting

Mapp Discusses Port of Mandahl, Government Salary Hikes at Rotary Meeting

After laying out economic development and public safety proposals, Gov. Kenneth Mapp told Rotary Club of St. Thomas members Thursday that the right people have to be put in place for the work to get done, and they need to be paid properly.

Thursday’s speech came the day after senators held the nominations of several incoming cabinet members and called for Mapp to explain why at least four of them were slated for higher pay than their predecessors. Tackling the issue before Rotary, Mapp outlined first what he wanted to accomplish on the job long and short term, and finished up by saying that in putting together a team that could buy “into the vision,” “deliver,” and get the territory through some “serious financial challenges,” he had to attract qualified people.

“Many of those folks had jobs or owned businesses and they were not going to take an unnecessary sacrifice to simply say, ‘I’m going to come into government service at any cost,’” the governor said. “All of them are making some sacrifice on different levels, but we all have to be realistic about attracting the talent for the job, and we have to pay for that.”

The discussion came at the tail end of a 30-minute speech, giving Rotarians a few minutes for questions, which provided the governor with a chance to talk about the ongoing Port of Mandahl development and recent reports that Hyatt was looking to back out as operator of the resort proposed for the project.

Mapp said, however, that developers were backing off because of the community opposition to the project and their desire “not to fight with folks, with their positions on Mandahl.”

In November, agreements were signed to facilitate the development. According to the documents, Mandahl Bay Holdings — a subsidiary of New-York based Transcontinental Realty Investors — would invest $209 million during the first phase of the project, which includes the development of a Hyatt Regency Hotel, a 50-slip marina, private estates and marina townhouses, and 48,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

The second part of the project includes the expansion of the Mahogany Run Golf Course, which developer Karl Blaha has said the company closed on in November.

During a brief phone interview with the Source Friday, Mandahl Bay Holdings attorney George H.T. Dudley said he would not be commenting on the status of the project or if the governor’s remarks were true.

Mapp, meanwhile, also spoke Thursday about:

– Partnerships made with federal officials during the recent National Governor’s Association conference. Mapp said that along with senators and House representatives, he also had a chance to talk positively with Treasury and Transportation Department officials about the territorial Economic Development Commission tax incentive program and the need for more funding to improve roads.

– Bringing in more money for infrastructure through federal funds previously awarded based on population. Mapp said that Transportation Department officials could help increase the annual $16 million award to as much as $25 million and help open the door for more.

– Bringing in a team from New York to assess and reorganize the V.I. Police Department. Forming cadet groups in high schools, grooming graduates to pursue training and education and offering them incentives to stay highly qualified will increase the territory’s ability to fight crime, the governor said.

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