ST THOMAS, USVI -- US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh has authorized implementation of two measures to reduce government expenditures and address a projected shortfall in the 2013 General Fund budget.
When he delivered the State of the Territory Address last Monday, the governor reported the $50 million deficit in this fiscal year’s budget. De Jongh has directed all department and agency heads to immediately freeze all non-critical hiring, and to prepare a plan to reduce their expenditures by five percent, to address the shortfall.
A memorandum sent at week’s end to department and agency heads informed them that the more-stringent hiring freeze was effective immediately, and personnel director Kenneth Hermon would stop processing all personnel actions that would increase the burden on the General Fund. The freeze will not affect positions paid out of federal or special funds.
The governor also directed the agency and department heads to develop a detailed “critical needs hiring plan,” allowing their department or agency to meet its mandates within available resources for the remainder of the fiscal year.
“The critical needs hiring plan must speak to the critical nature of the position, indicate how the position will affect the department or agency's mandate, and indicate how not filling the position will result in lost revenue, increased operational expenses, create a health and safety risk, or places our citizens in harm's way,” de Jongh wrote.
Office of Management and Budget Director Debra Gottlieb also issued a memorandum on Friday, informing agency and department heads that their budgets would be reduced by five percent starting March 1, and the reduced funding would remain in effect through the rest of fiscal year 2013.
Gottlieb directed government leaders to prepare a 2013 budget contingency plan that indicated the functions, programs and services that would be affected by reduced funding.
“Your Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Contingency Plan must also indicate what programs and services will be consolidated, restricted or eliminated, how the department or agency employees will be affected [i.e., furloughs, unpaid holidays, reduced work week, terminations/dismissals, etc.], what other operational costs such as vehicle use, energy consumption, rental, telecommunication, fuel and professional services expenses, etc, will be reduced and what specific actions need to be taken to implement your 2013 Budget Contingency Plan,” Gottlieb wrote.