Home News Local news Austin L. Nibbs Approved as New GERS Administrator

Austin L. Nibbs Approved as New GERS Administrator


March 18, 2008 — Calling him an "honest leader" and a "straight shooter," senators said Tuesday they would put their faith in Austin L. Nibbs to navigate the Government Employees' Retirement System through unstable financial waters and out of more than $1 billion in debt.
Nibbs' nomination to the position of GERS' administrator was unanimously approved during Tuesday's full session. He will take over for Willis C. Todmann, who resigned almost a year ago after GERS' Board of Trustees placed him on administrative leave.
Since then, Todmann has been arrested on charges of embezzlement, conversion of government property, forgery and grand larceny. A Department of Justice investigation into Todmann's affairs was triggered last April when the Attorney General's Office received a complaint alleging that Todmann had "wrongfully" been collecting two paychecks during his tenure at GERS, according to court documents.
Todmann has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Tuesday, senators said they did not question Nibbs' employment history, and pointed out that he has continuously held "high-level" positions both locally and abroad. Over the past few months, Nibbs has served as GERS' acting administrator, and his staff has called him a "breath of fresh air," according to Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe.
While Dowe asked the rest of the body to support Nibbs' nomination, it was evident early on that other senators didn't need to be convinced.
"It's obvious that Mr. Nibbs will make an outstanding administrator," said Sen. Neville James.
Despite the vote of confidence, many senators also made clear their concerns about the stability of GERS, which is now heavily weighed down by a more than $1 billion unfunded liability. To solve the problem, senators suggested that Nibbs work closely with the administration on the floating of pension-obligation bonds, and reminded him to enforce the provisions of a GERS reform bill signed into law about three years ago.
Stepping into the well after the vote was taken, Nibbs promised that he would look into all of the senators' concerns, and would manage the system cautiously in the midst of a receding national economy.
"This job is a very challenging job," he said, then compared his new job to his old one as acting Finance commissioner: "When I was working at Finance, it was a lot faster, like a sprint. This job is a 24/7 mental challenge, but I plan to continue in that vein, and address challenges like the unfunded liability that are currently confronting the system."
Senators also approved the nominations of:
— Aldria Harley-Wade to the St. Thomas-St John board of directors of the V.I. Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation;
— Imelda Dizon to the St. Croix board of directors of the V.I. Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation;
— Randolph V. Allen to the V.I. Economic Development Authority governing board; and
— Liston R. Foy to the St. Thomas-St. John Horse Racing Commission.
All senators were present during Tuesday's session.
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