ST. THOMAS — Two parts of the government don’t agree on how much money is owed in payments to local retirees, according to court documents.
As a result, U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez has ordered an independent company to produce a report as part of a reopened federal consent decree involving the Government Employees’ Retirement System and the government of the Virgin Islands, primarily represented by the V.I. Finance Department.
The ruling, issued June 6, is based on a hearing held on March 6, according to Gomez’s order.
GERS “introduced a spreadsheet itemizing the amount of employer and employee contributions the GERS alleges are due through Dec. 31, 2018 for 6,552 active employees and 542 inactive employees,” Gomez wrote.
Attorneys for GERS claimed the government owes $66.8 million in employer contributions to GERS, in addition to about $38 million in employee contributions, for a total of about $104.8 million owed to the retirement system.
The government “disputes that it owes the GERS any amount,” Gomez wrote.
Officials introduced a different spreadsheet listing 118 employees, according to Gomez.
The government “claims that only $780.94 in employer contributions are due for the 118 listed employees,” Gomez wrote.
The difference between the two figures is $104,764,621.38.
“In light of the parties’ dispute over the amount of employer and employee contributions that the [government] may owe the GERS, the court ordered the parties to file a list of qualified firms, capable of producing a report that calculates and details the precise amount of employer and employee contributions,” Gomez wrote.
Gomez appointed KPMG, a financial services firm, to assess the correct amount and issue its findings in a report to the court. Both the government and GERS are required to cooperate with the firm to produce the report, according to the order.
KPMG has until today to provide Gomez and both parties with an estimated delivery date for the report, and must make key personnel producing the report available to testify, according to the order.
The government must pay for the report’s cost, Gomez ordered.
Gomez reopened the consent decree, originally reached in 1994, in 2018, after GERS and the government could not agree on the amount owed. The original consent decree required, among other things, that GERS contributions be set aside in a separate bank account, which government officials have testified hasn’t been done for years.
GERS officials have said the pension system — which represents up to 30 percent of the territorial GDP — could be bankrupt by 2023 if significant financial steps aren’t taken to improve the system’s financial position.