March 29, 2006 – Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's appointment of Kent Bernier as interim director of finance and administration for the Public Finance Authority was approved during a PFA board meeting Wednesday.
Bernier is temporarily replacing Kenneth Mapp, who was pressured into resigning by the PFA board and members of the community because he is running for governor (See "No More Mapp in PFA's Future").
Board members decided that Bernier, who also serves as the special assistant to the governor for economic development, would be paid his current government salary until a compensation package is developed by the PFA.
Bernier reportedly earns $85,000 at his current job.
The board also acted on five contracts between the PFA and various firms hired to perform services within and outside of the territory. These include:
–a $50 increase in per-hour rates charged by McCarter and English, hired by the authority to manage legal issues pertaining to 12 capital improvement projects financed by the PFA (approved by the board until Dec. 2006).
–the renewal of a $294,000 contract (plus expenses) for Callwood Associates for congressional outreach services, and the creation of a briefing book about the Virgin Islands for U.S. congressmen.
–a $150,000 increase in the fee cap earned by PricewaterhouseCoopers, an auditing firm contracted by the V.I. government to perform an analysis of the Economic Development Authority's tax incentive program and the territory's rum industry.
–the extension of a $795-per-hour contract with McKee Nelson, a tax specialist company which will testify before Congress in April about the local EDC program.
–the extension of a contract with Edelman Group, an international public relations firm.
During the meeting, Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards said the Edelman Group "countered the backlash of negative press brought about by changes in the EDC program," did "damage control," and "sustained [the] image of the V.I. by affording us the opportunity to get our side of the argument heard."
All board members — Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, Bernice Turnbull, Ira Mills, Paul Arnold, and Roy Jackson — were present at Wednesday's meeting.
When Richards' office was contacted Thursday morning and asked why the lieutenant governor attends the PFA meetings, a staff member who refused to give her name said "because he chooses to."
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