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AFT PACT HINGES ON POST AUDITOR'S ANALYSIS

As soon as some financial details are examined by the Legislature's post audit staff, there may be some news that could thwart the impending teachers strike, said Senate President Vargrave Richards on Tuesday afternoon.
Richards and other senators met Tuesday with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and his financial officers in a continuation of Friday's effort to find a way to fund a new contract for teachers and avoid a strike by American Federation of Teachers members and other union employees.
Richards said some financial "instrumentalities" were not available until noon Tuesday and had to be analyzed by Legislative Post Auditor Campbell Malone and his staff. He said they are working "feverishly" on the task.
Richards said funds from the V.I. Water and Power Authority, the V.I. Port Authority and the West Indian Co. Ltd., approximately $2.5 million in all, were being looked at, along with information from the tax assessor's office.
He said the major issue, however, was the proposal by Sen. David Jones to use the government's insurance Guaranty Fund as collateral for a loan. The fund was set up to protect clients whose insurance companies go bankrupt, as has happened after major storms, and the proposal has been vigorously opposed by the insurance industry.
Asked about the other funding proposals, Richards said it's all tied to the insurance fund. "I can't say right now—it would be pure speculation on my part," he said.
The group will meet again at noon Wednesday. The Senate Finance Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed until Monday to allow committee members to attend the Government House meeting.

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