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WAPA schedules meeting to discuss reports of management pay raises

By KAREN HOLLISH (Daily News Staff)
Published: March 1, 2011

The V.I. Water and Power Authority board on Monday scheduled an “emergency meeting” for this morning to deal with reports that it authorized management raises during its executive session last Friday.

WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. would not comment on the matter Monday, despite scathing statements released Sunday by Gov. John deJongh Jr. and V.I. Senate Majority leader Celestino White Sr.

Hodge said Monday that he would make a statement today about the issue of pay raises for WAPA management.

DeJongh, who flew to Washington, D.C., this weekend to attend the National Governors Association meeting, issued a statement Sunday saying there was “no rationalization” for WAPA management to receive pay increases in the current economy.

“After all that has been said and written about the dimensions of our economic and budgetary crisis, and after I had written to the WAPA board chairwoman and executive director seeking their best efforts in reducing the costs of government and of services to our people, it would be most unwise for the WAPA governing board to permit any in this community to believe that they would take such an action until the present crisis has been resolved,” deJongh said.

White also had harsh words in response to reports about a pay increase.

“This is callous disregard for the economic situation of the Virgin Islands and the sacrifices that Gov. John P. deJongh, Jr. has asked our people to make,” White said. “While Rome burned, Nero fiddled. While people sit in darkness and cannot buy food or medicine, WAPA officials line their pockets.”

WAPA spokeswoman Cassandra Dunn said the board told her of only two action items that arose during Friday’s executive session: The board decided to partner with the V.I. Public Finance Authority on its broadband-expansion project, and the board authorized staff to conduct performance reviews for managers and confidential employees, Dunn said.

Raises sometimes do arise out of performance reviews, but they are not guaranteed to take place, Dunn said.

Neither Hodge nor Dunn would confirm or deny Monday that the WAPA board agreed Friday to give pay raises to WAPA managers, nor would they elaborate on or answer questions about the issue.

As for what exactly took place inside Friday’s closed session, Dunn said she was not included and does not know.

“There’ll be clarity tomorrow,” Dunn said Monday afternoon, referring to today’s meeting. “We’ll all find out everything tomorrow.”

The only order of business on the agenda for the meeting today is an executive session about “personnel matters.”

Under V.I. Code subsection 254, government boards may not convene into executive session to discuss general personnel policies, such as the need for systemwide performance reviews.

Personnel matters are only suitable for executive session discussions if their disclosure would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” according to V.I. Code subsection 254(b)(1).

– Contact reporter Karen Hollish at 774-8772 ext. 304 or e-mail khollish@dailynews.vi.

Read more: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/wapa-schedules-meeting-to-discuss-reports-of-management-pay-raises-1.1112010#ixzz1FTwMQD6k

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