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Saturday, June 22, 2024


Aug. 4, 2001 – Sen. Vargrave Richards has joined forces with Joseph Thomas Jr., V. I. Water and Power Authority executive director, and Laurence Bryan, Government Employees Retirement System administrator, to oppose a bill sponsored by Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen that would extend early retirement benefits to certain WAPA hazardous duty employees.
Richards wrote Gov. Charles Turnbull Saturday asking him to "carefully and methodically scrutinize GERS official written testimony" before making a decision on the bill, one of a multitude awaiting Turnbull's approval or veto before Tuesday.
"It is clear," Richards wrote Turnbull, "that GERS administrators, as well as WAPA chief Thomas, agree that the added burden would 'bankrupt' the system and cause a chain reaction of rate increases."
Bryan and other GERS officers have claimed the legislation paves the way for possible "bankruptcy" in years to come. In a recent board meeting, Thomas said, "No utility in the civilized world has that kind of plan. It will have a rate impact."
He called the legislation "a mistake we'll all pay for. The bill has good intentions, without a good sense of accounting."
Richards further stated, "Consideration should first be given to the development of a plan, as Bryan urges, to 'repatriate GERS the outstanding delinquent debt owed by the government to GERS." Richards urged the governor to do an "impact study, before advancing legislation of this magnitude." He said the governor should work hand in glove with GERS and the Legislature to "restructure the system so that it is equitable to all."
Richards continued that, though he was "very sensitive to the WAPA employees working in hazardous positions," the bill as now worded would " . . . further exacerbate the already precarious position of the GERS."
The senator concluded, "Passage of this bill would, quite ironically, place GERS on an extremely 'hazardous' precipice."

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