Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter, acting as governor while Gov. Kenneth Mapp attends the Seatrade cruise conference in Florida, has signed into law a bill to allow the government to pay temporarily officials on loan from the federal government at higher than usual salaries, without automatically raising salaries of officials whose pay is tied to commissioners’ pay levels. [Bill 31-0317]
The action was announced in a statement from Government House, which says the bill "authorizes the local government to accept temporarily assigned federal employees into its Executive Branch." However, the territory can and does already accept federal employees for temporary service under the federal Intergovernmental Personnel Act Mobility Program.
The IPA allows for employees from the federal government to work in local or state agencies for up to two years with an option to extend their tenure for two more.
In Senate committee hearings on the measure, administration officials testified the change to the local law would make it easier to entice highly experienced federal officials to come serve in the territory by offering higher pay. They argued it would avoid automatically raising the pay of the V.I. inspector general and V.I. National Guard adjutant general, whose pay is tied to that of the highest-paid cabinet member.
Senators noted at the time the measure appeared to be connected to the hiring of Dr. Michelle Davis, Mapp’s nominee for commissioner of the Health Department, who is regional health administrator for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s New York Office and is on loan to the territory for two years.
Personnel Director Milton Potter said at the time that the government has used the program before, including with a past Police commissioner. The goal is to help develop local capacity under the mentorship of highly qualified, highly skilled federal officials, he said.
Potter also approved two rezonings affecting parcels in Estate Lindbergh Bay.
He also acknowledged Senate resolutions honoring and commending Rodney “Chief” Varlack and the late radio journalist Alvin “Alvin Gee” Southwell for outstanding service to the people of the Virgin Islands.