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Cruz Bay
Thursday, September 29, 2022


Charlie Bornmann, the project manager for the territory's Home Protection Roofing Program, is working "feverishly" along with Ira Mills, acting director of Management and Budget, to keep the federal government from taking back $2 million in grant money for the program.
In the meantime, due to bureaucratic bumbling, Bornmann is also worrying about losing a second home to foreclosure as a result of the V.I. government's failure to pay him for the work he has done on the roofing program over the last two years.
Bornmann hopes that all is not lost for the $2 million, but said, "The program did not have to be in this fix we are currently in. Just like my pay situation, too many people turn their backs on problems until it's too
late. Mismanagement and downright lackadaisical attitudes plagued the program at every turn."
Bornmann came to the Virgin Islands days after Hurricane Marilyn struck. He served for 10 months as an adviser to Planning and Natural Resources under a technical assistance contract through the Federal Emergency Management Agency from October 1996 until July 1997.
It was in July of 1997 that the then-commissioner of Property and Procurement, Dean Luke, asked Bornmann to become an employee of the local government to manage the roofing program.
Bornmann said he thought it was a positive move, so he agreed. That's when his entanglement in a web of bureaucratic mismanagement began.
His position was eliminated and then re-established a few days later. His salary was decreased twice, by $10,000 each time, first when he agreed to take the job and then again arbitrarily without his knowledge.
He has gone months without any pay at all, thereby losing a home, a credit card on which
he had placed expenses that were to be reimbursed, and finally his patience.
Two of his children had to sit out a semester of college because he could not pay their tuition and now a second home, where his ex-wife and three children live, is under foreclosure.
"If I lose this one (home) like I did the other one because of the government's failure to pay me, I will take them to court and it won't be just to collect back wages," Bornmann said.
As of April 29 the government owes him $88,000 in back and current pay and
expenses, he said. The last time he was paid was in January for December. It was a partial payment. This is the third time Bornmann has gone four months without any money.
"I need help. I need to get paid. I'm dying here," Bornmann said he told Property and Procurement Commissioner Mark Biggs on Saturday. "He said he knew and he would 'walk it though' but I still don't have any money."
Bornmann is currently working on a letter to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull asking for help in getting paid.
"I don't like to do this," he said. "My commissioner is the person who should be helping me, not the governor."
All but 10 percent of the money owed to Bornmann comes from federal funds.
When he was paid in January, he was paid 90 percent from the feds but did not get the 10 percent local contribution because Finance thought there was no money.
"Nobody believed me when I told them there was, according to our reconciliation, $2 million still left from the money," Bornmann said. "Finance said we were broke and that was that."
Bornmann said he has provided a seven-page chronology of events relative to his contracts with the government — there have been three in all — beginning in July 1997 to both Biggs and Sen. George Goodwin who heads the Committee on Housing, Parks and Recreation.
So why has he stayed all this time with all the personal problems he has faced as a result?
"Because I believe in the program," Bornman said. "I saw that a $30 million program was being screwed up. With my background, I knew I could help. I felt the people applying for the grant money had an entitlement. These are real people and I deal with them every day. I really just wanted to help."
"Besides," he said, "I always feel things will work out."
Asked about the roofing program and Bornmann's pay Thursday, Goodwin said, "I thought this matter was all cleared up. I find this unforgivable."
Goodwin said it was agreed in a meeting "weeks ago" that all indebtedness was to be cleared up.
"I don't understand why this man has not been paid. The money is there. He works in the same office with the commissioner and he still can't get paid?"
Goodwin called St. Thomas Source later to say he had spoken with Biggs and was assured that Bornmann would be paid, though there were some legal problems to be worked out through the Justice Department.
The chronology of Bornmann's odyssey with the Virgin Islands government reveals that whether Bornmann would be paid was never the issue. It was always how much and when — and whether he would be paid in time to save
his home, his apartment or his credit. Biggs, reached late Thursday afternoon said,"Mr. Bornmann has given 100 percent to the program. Despite everything, he has come to work everyday and is a tremendous asset to the agency."
Biggs said, "What is happening to him (Bornmann) is just part of the bureaucratic process."
Biggs verified he has turned the matter over to the Justice Department. "I just want to make sure everything I am doing is legal."
He didn't say when he expected Bornmann to be paid.
A final note on Bornmann's woes: His ex-wife is calling from the states asking where the money is and the truck he has been driving, which had been borrowed from FEMA, was taken away Thursday morning.
"I don't know how I'm going to continue to get to work," he said.

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