The following is an open letter to Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.
Thank you for inviting us to write about the island’s financial troubles.
Right away Act 6905 comes to mind, which was passed in stealth of night at the end of 2006.
It is one of the reasons that Government Employees’ Retirement System is in trouble. The senators gave themselves a generous jump in salary as well as the governor. Actually, it was instigated by the outgoing governor, who gave himself a generous raise from $80,000 to $150,000 (imagine you would get a raise of 87.5 %).
We are paying for that, but as far as the GERS is concerned, now the retiring senators can get a full pension after only serving for six years at full benefit
That means they are only paying into the system six years, and getting the benefit for maybe 30 or 40 years
The contribution for a salary of $85,000 is approximately $10,200, so the total paid in would be about $61.200. But the benefit for 30 years would be $2,055,000, and for 40 years — $3,400,000. The governor’s would be even more at $4,500,000 for 30 years, etc.
Now, [taxpayers] are paying for these salaries, and if you are not working for the government and you entered the workforce at the age of 20, you will have to work for 47 years before you can retire — not just six years.
Now, the governor wants to go to Wall Street to borrow more money to save the GERS with our taxpayers’ money.
We already paid for their salaries and their contribution to the retirement system once. Now we should pay for it again? No, governor. That does not smell good. It is the government that made this mess of GERS. It is the government that kicked the can down the road. It is the government that did not pay in the contributions it deducted from the employees’ salaries. It is the government that made bad investments.
Don’t make the people that have to work for 47 years before they can retire pay for it a second time. Don’t use our taxpayers’ money to rescue the GERS.
I can give you some ideas to save money rather than hit us with another tax:
Why do we need three legislative halls/offices with staff and cars on all three islands? (I am surprised we don’t have one on Water Island yet). The Bahamas have many more islands, but they don’t maintain a legislature on all these islands. In America the states have one legislature in the capital and not in every town. The people of the Virgin Islands have asked many times to reduce the number of senators, to no avail. And why is that? Because we are rich. To cancel all government credit cards would also be a good thing.
There is never any talk about reducing high flying expenses and salaries, but always lets raise taxes.
More people are buying things they need on the internet, because they simply are not available locally. Most people would rather buy things locally, it is so much easier, and you can see what you are getting before you put your money down.
There are lots of companies that do not want to ship to the Virgin Islands; they just don’t want the hassle for one reason or another. So, in a case like this when we really need the item, we have to have it shipped to a friend or family member in the states, who will then ship it down to us. In this case (and there are many) you have to pay for the shipping twice, and the U.S. sales tax, and then when it arrives in the Virgin Islands. The Governor Bryan internet tax — thanks a lot.
Now, if these stateside companies that are already reluctant to ship to the Virgin Islands have to keep track of a USVI sales tax, they will be even less willing to ship to us the items we so desperately need to rebuild our hurricane-damaged homes and get the auto parts we need and other household goods not available here.
Life in these islands is expensive enough, with high rent, high utility bills — the highest in the nation — and low wages. We definitely don’t need another tax.
— Alfred Neumann resides on St. Thomas.