Government makes all outstanding payments to GERS

In accordance with the proposal submitted in March 2018 to the Government Employees Retirement System (“GERS”) and the United States District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands (the “District Court”), Commissioner of Finance Valdamier Collens, informs government employees that the Department of Finance has remitted payment of all outstanding contributions and withholdings to GERS, totaling approximately $38 million, including interest and fees.

The repayment of the outstanding contributions and withholdings is unrelated to the issue of the Actuarially Determined Employer Contribution (“ADEC”). Unfortunately, the ADEC has not been appropriated in any government budget for over 20 years. In fact, the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and GERS are disputing whether the ADEC was part of the 1984 Consent Judgment that required the payment of employee and employer contributions. Although the issue is currently pending before the District Court, the parties will submit legal briefs on the issue by Friday, July 13, 2018 in preparation for a court hearing scheduled for Friday, August 24, 2018.

The Government’s repayment of all outstanding contributions to the GERS follows the recent announcement by Governor Kenneth Mapp that the U.S. Virgin Islands has entered into a $1.4 billion agreement with the owners of Limetree Bay Terminals to reopen one of the world’s largest refineries, create hundreds of jobs in the Territory and shore up the solvency of the Government Employees Retirement System. It is estimated that the deal may contribute more than $380 million for the GERS over the next 10 years, which will help stabilize its finances and extend its life by an additional five years, providing the time necessary to find a permanent solution to restore GERS to solvency.

Separately, as part of the FY 2019 proposed budget, the Governor also submitted a bill to the Senate to increase the government’s contribution to GERS over the next three years as well as increase the contribution of its members whose salaries are higher than $65,000 per year.