GERS Still Silent About New Administrator

Dwane Callwood chaired a meeting of the GERS board on Thursday but did not release any information about a new administrator. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Mary Morehead, a retired member of the Government Employees’ Retirement System, wants to know who the new administrator of the system is. She didn’t find out at the meeting of the Board of Trustees Thursday. Nor did anyone else.

“A month ago I saw in your notes that an administrator had been selected. I have not seen or heard any announcement of who it is,” said Morehead.

Dwane Callwood, chairman of the board, said the matter would be addressed later in the meeting. Morehead spoke at the beginning of the meeting when it opened for retirees to make comments.

She then asked if the chairman could just say yes or no to whether a new administrator had been hired.

Callwood repeated, “I will speak to that later.”

After the public meeting and an executive session, Callwood said only that an announcement would be made next week about the new administrator search.

GERS Administrator Austin Nibbs announced in December 2020 that he wished to retire in June 2021. The board has given him contract extensions since then. The latest extends to the end of this September.

The new administrator will be facing old problems — government agencies not paying their employee and employer contributions and tenants not paying their rent.

The arrearage in rent is almost $100,000, according to Nibbs, and arrearages in electric bills over $50,000. The government agencies most behind are the Department of Justice and the Department of Personnel. In an email to the Source, Nibbs stated, “Untimely receipt of rents and electricity reimbursements from our tenants causes the GERS to use cash set aside to pay benefits to the retirees to pay the operating expenses of the buildings. The rents received from the tenants are used to pay the expenses to operate the buildings owned by the GERS.”

As of June 5, WAPA has outstanding employer contributions of $12.2 million, which include interest and penalties, according to Nibbs’ report.

The Schneider Regional Medical Center owes almost $2 million in contributions to the retirement system funds.

Nibbs, in his email to the Source, wrote, “Both WAPA and SRMC are not in compliance with the V.I.C. and the V3 business rules that employer contributions must be remitted to the GERS 10 days after the pay date. Non-receipt of the employer contributions hurts the system’s cash flow.”

Annual statements are required by law to be sent out to members of the system. Nibbs said almost 10,000 were sent out this year. He said that the staff had to work overtime stuffing the statements into envelopes. “We are in the 21st century; 95 percent of our retirees are computer literate” and added that it was a staff recommendation that the hard copy of the statements no longer be required, he said. A retiree can look at their statement on the GERS website.

Callwood, Liger, Andre Dorsey, Ronald Russell, and Leona E. Smith were in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.