ST THOMAS, USVI -- By executive order, US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp has taken major steps to reduce the cost of government operations, given that cash revenues flowing into the treasury are insufficient to meet current expenses.
Noting that the 32nd Legislature continues to deliberate on his five-year economic recovery plan, which is designed eventually to eradicate the territory’s ongoing structural deficit, Mapp’s order cites the need for “immediate and comprehensive action to reduce current spending”, while ensuring, to the extent possible, that essential services to protect public health, safety, and welfare are preserved.
The executive order freezes all non-essential hiring in all executive branch departments and agencies with some exceptions:
a. Positions in departments and agencies that are fully funded by and paid through federal grants and non-general fund monies.
b. Emergency and public safety positions
c. Teaching positions within the Departments of Education and Human Services.
d. Employment positions mandated by federal court consent decrees.
The executive order also suspends immediately all wage negotiations, pursuant to the instructions contained in and the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the VIESA case.
Until further notice, the order suspends non-essential travel paid for out of the government’s General Fund, and directs heads of departments and agencies to limit 24-hour use of non-emergency government vehicles to employees whose functions are essential and require use of government vehicles after work hours on a regular basis.
The executive order includes Mapp’s request that the other branches of the territorial government and instrumentalities not under the direct authority of the governor (the hospitals, the University of the Virgin Islands, the VI Waste Management Authority, and all others which receive funds from or intend to hire on the General Fund) implement similar or other mitigating measures designed to achieve the goals of the executive order.
The order takes effect immediately and will terminate when a subsequent written executive order is issued by the governor.