With the budget deficit now at an estimated $133 million, government officials are beginning to put in place some of the austerity measures laid out last week by Finance Commissioner-designee Valdimier Collens, including the turning in of government issued cell phones and the discontinuation of many private telephone and fax lines.
“This policy is across the board,” Government House spokeswoman Kimberly Jones told the Source. “The governor asked for all cell phones to be turned in as a cost saving measure and also as a control measure. We were concerned that there may be phones out there that are not being used that the government continues to pay for,” Jones said Monday.
Cell phones are to be turned into government department and agency heads or supervisors. Jones said she was unsure of how many have been turned in so far or how much savings is expected to be generated as as result of the crackdown.
“The point is to eliminate waste,” she said. “There is no time factor associated with this request and the savings expected is undetermined at this time.”
Jones said employees seem to be cooperating. “We are not seeing resistance,” she said. “As a matter of fact, people are engaged in being part of the solution.”
“Government employees want their government to succeed and support the community. Therefore, when everyone feels as though they are helping in their own way, they embrace the opportunity.”
Collens could not be reached Monday for comment, but did talk to senators last week about an increase in the anticipated budget deficit.
In his first appearance with the government’s financial team, Collens told Senate Finance Committee members last Tuesday that revised revenue projects are now at $604.5 million, or $133.1 million less than the previously approved Fiscal Year 2015 appropriation level. Collens also said at the hearing that the government, at that time, only had approximately $2.7 million in cash in the bank.