June 1, 2005 — With only a few days left for five government agencies to either clear up their V.I. Water and Power Authority bills or face disconnection, one official says his agency was wrongly singled out. (See "WAPA Sending Disconnect Notices to Guard, VITEMA".)
Attorney General Alva Swan says he has written to WAPA, asking them to check their records for payments made by the Department of Justice. Swan wrote the utility after consulting with his director of operations, who said the $150,000 WAPA says is delinquent, is not.
"We did our research to determine where this $150,000 was coming from. Most of the bills are current, most of this is current amounts," said operations director Deborah Frett-Gregory. "What we did was a quick analysis. I think to date, based on the $150,000, I have submitted a little over $150,000 to WAPA. Those documents are in Finance."
Frett also said an analysis of Justice Department payments to WAPA showed the utility may not have recorded all of the payments sent to them. "Payments to WAPA by the department were not recorded on WAPA's ledger," she said.
Frett suggested that payments may have been overlooked because of a new way the Finance Department is handling miscellaneous disbursement vouchers. Once those vouchers accompanied the checks, but now, Frett says, they are separated, making it harder for vendors to identify which amounts are to be applied to which accounts.
A top utility official said they have received letters from some of the five agencies that were targeted for disconnection after a WAPA Governing Board meeting on May 18. Executive Director Alberto Bruno-Vega said he did not know the particulars involving the Justice Department but noted that Chief Financial Officer Nellon Bowry was keeping close tabs on all communications.
"I can't recall whether it was from the Department of Justice or some other departments; we have received several of these letters," Bruno-Vega said. "Some were making arrangements to pay. Others have vouchers in Finance to be released. Others disagree with our reconciliation."
"We believe our numbers are correct," Bruno-Vega said.
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