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Cruz Bay
Tuesday, July 5, 2022


Sen. Lorraine L. Berry said Wednesday that a cursory reading of the budget has left her with several concerns. She has called a meeting of the Finance Committee for 10 a.m. June 15 to hear from key financial people.
Berry said she has asked Budget Director Ira Mills, Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull, Internal Revenue Director Claudette Farrington, Tax Assessor Roy Martin and Chief Negotiator Karen Andrews to attend.
One of her major concerns, Berry said, was the fact that the budget called for 6 percent pay cuts to take place effective July 1. "That means employees will change from 80 hours per pay period to 75. What does that mean? And how do we deal with shift workers who are on a 24-hour schedule?"
Berry also noted that 90 percent of the government workforce is unionized. "It seems to me we have to get the unions to acquiesce to this plan."
Additionally, "I think the revenues are out of whack," Berry said. "If we are going to cut pay to government workers, how can the income tax revenues be expected to go up?"
The budget revenue projections show a 4 percent decrease in income tax for fiscal year 1999 over 1998, but an increase the next year, fiscal year 2000, of about 5 percent over 1999.
Berry pointed out that the new tax breaks that Virgin Islanders are entitled to under federal tax laws will also bring down the amount paid in income taxes to the territory.
"And what about the accounts receivable?" she asked, noting that the revenue projections for collections show $20 million for fiscal year 2000, $1 million for fiscal year 1999 and nothing for previous years.
Berry also expressed concern about the budget for 2000 being over $50 million more than the 1999 budget.
"Even after the $20 million in pay cuts, that is still an increase of over $30 million," she said.

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