July 3, 2002 – On May 28, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull announced that by executive order he was giving pay raises to his commissioners and about 1,100 to 1,200 other unclassified, non-union government employees.
Increases proposed by the administration covering 893 such employees add about $8.7 million a year to the government payroll and benefit contributions — more than $2.3 million for upper-level personnel and nearly $6.4 million for mid-level employees.
The Source has obtained the list of proposed salary changes for exempt employees generated by the Turnbull administration. Most of the changes have been implemented, according to knowledgeable sources. The lengthy list, broken down into alphabetized department and agency groupings, is posted in a series of files in the Community/Data section.
If there are, in fact, more than 1,100 exempt employees, the salary status of the other 200-plus individuals is unknown. Some might not have been proposed to receive increases. Or the administration may have proposed changes for other personnel who are not included in the list.
Turnbull announced the increases on May 28 after media queries were directed to Government House concerning his having raised a chauffeur's salary to $58,000 from $28,500 and a confidential assistant's to $58,000 from $45,000, as indicated in Notices of Personnel Action dated last Oct. 26. The governor has since given the confidential assistant an additional increase, to $65,000.
The pay raises are being granted under the authority of Executive Order 401-2001 which Turnbull issued last Nov. 5. The order raised the ceilings on salaries to $97,000 for commissioners and other top administrators, $92,00 for assistant commissioners, $87,000 for deputy commissioners and $70,000 for division directors. Senators demanded at the time to know who specifically was getting what but were unsuccessful in obtaining the data.
In May, the governor said the highest salaries for commissioners and agency heads would increase to $85,000 from the previous $65,000, and that this would be $1,900 more than the highest-paid classified employee. One reason he gave for the raises was that several commissioners were being paid less than some of the people they supervised. He said 71 classified employees in the Education Department and 17 in the Police Department were making more than their commissioners. The governor said this went against "virtually every established management principle."
The only department head not proposed for a pay raise was Attorney General Iver Stridiron. He already was making $85,000.
In November, Turnbull said he had been advised that his action might not "be wise politically" in an election year but decided to institute the raises because "I have always prided myself in being up-front and forthright with the people of the Virgin Islands."
Senators tried in a section of the Fiscal Year 2002 Omnibus Act to make their own salaries equal to that of the highest-paid commissioner. They make $65,000, which is what commissioners had been making since Gov. Alexander A. Farrelly handed out raises in 1990. Turnbull vetoed the Omnibus Act provision, and the Legislature did not attempt an override.
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