St. Thomas

St. John

St.Croix

THE FY 2022 BUDGET HEARING OF OOG, GERS, AND VIHFA

Published: Aug 17, 2021

St. Croix—On Monday, August 16, 2021, the Committee on Finance, Chaired by Senator Kurt A. Vialet, received testimony on the FY 2022 Executive Budget from the Office of the Governor (OOG), Government Employees’ Retirement System (GERS), and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA).
Karl Knight, Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor, said the financial resources requested are required to fund the mandatory costs for core operations and planned initiatives of the Office of the Governor, the Bureau of Economic Research, and the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
The requested General Fund budget for the OOG for FY 2022 is $12,758,577. This includes $11,435,381 for OOG, $784,009 for the Bureau of Economic Research, and $539,187 for the Office of Gun Violence Prevention. He added that the total General Fund request is $3,505,716 above the current FY 2021 General Fund appropriation of $9,252,861. He pointed out that $300,000 is requested from the Tourism Revolving Fund for a full budget year 2022 funding request of $13,058,577.
According to Knight, like all other central government agencies, the OOG went through a two (2) year planning process with the Office of Management and Budget to develop this budget request. He added that through that process, they projected operating expenditures in Fiscal Year 2023 to be $13,609,879. That would be an approximately 4-percent increase above the requested funding level of $13,058,577 for Fiscal Year 2022.
The OOG’s Fiscal Year 2022 General Fund request includes:
1. Personnel Services FY 2022-$6,054,410
2. Fringe Benefits-$2,796,967
3. Supplies-$423,900
4. Other Services/Expenses-$2,777,800
5. Utilities-$489,000
6. Capital Projects-$216,500
Total-$12,758,577.
Austin Nibbs, Administrator, GERS, said as of July 30, 2021, payroll, the GERS paid benefits to 8,685 retirees and beneficiaries. The number of retirees added to the payroll from October 1,2020-July 30,21 was 264. The number of retirees removed from the payroll for the same period was 278. The average monthly amount paid in benefits to the retirees and beneficiaries as of July 30, 2021, was $21.6 million. The total amount paid in benefits from October 1,2020-July 30, 2010, was $214,988,961.68.
According to Nibbs, as of July 30, 2021, the active membership was approximately 8,847 (central government 6,234 and semi-autonomous agencies 2,613). He pointed out that there is a 1.02 ratio between active and retirees.
Regarding the unfunded liability, Nibbs said the results of the GERS Actual Valuation as of October 1, 2023 was a Total Actuarial Accrued Liability of $5.11 billion. Plan Assets totaled $580 million, and the Unfunded Liability was $4.53 billion. He added that this resulted in a funded ratio of 11.4-percent on an ongoing actuarial basis. The GERS is projected to fully deplete its assets by October 2023, or sooner, depending on the market.
Employer contributions due from Central Government to the GERS is $30,982,152 said Nibbs. He pointed out the Third Circuit Court award of $13,860,879 for 1991-2009; interest and penalties for 2010-2018 of $6,121,273; and direct contribution payments for fiscal years 2020 2021 in the amount of $11,000,000.
According to Nibbs, the GERS Fiscal Year 2022 budget has not yet been completed by the Board.
Daryl Griffith, Executive Director, VIHFA, said its Fiscal Year 2022 Proposed Operating Budget has total cumulative revenues and expenditures of $39,364,766.00. Projected Personnel Services is $12,394,147, an increase of $1,417,888—39-percent versus the prior year and includes the increase in GERS employer contribution from 20.5-percent to 23.5-percent on January 1, 2020.
According to Griffith, the Authority has filled approximately 14 positions. It will be recruiting about 100 more employees that will be important and instrumental to the disaster relief requirement and mandate of the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and the Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) Program.
According to Griffith, VIHFA is the lead agency for administering the HUD’s CDBG-DR grant funds. The total CDBG-DR and Mitigation award for the Virgin Islands is approximately $1,917,977,884.00, made available in five (5) separate allocations.
He said the first allocation is $242,684,000.00 and the second allocation of $779,217,000, which are identified for addressing unmet needs activities. The third allocation of $53,588,884.00 will address unmet needs in the infrastructure program. The fourth allocation of $744,1888,000.00 or CDBD-MT will fund hazard mitigation activities within the Territory.
He added that the fifth allocation of $67,653,000.00, which will support electrical grid improvements, was received and that the Territory has $1,021,901,000.00 available to allocate to projects. He added that VIHFA completed its 2019 audit and is currently working on the Fiscal Year 2020 audit, which will be completed by November 2021.
Senators at Monday’s budget hearing were Chairman Kurt A. Vialet, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Carla J. Joseph, Marvin A. Blyden, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Javan E. James, Sr., Samuel Carrión, Janelle K. Sarauw and Novelle E. Francis, Jr.

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