Veteran customs managers retiring

MLA questions reasons for departure, concerned over morale

Two senior managers at the Cayman Islands Customs Department will retire effective July 1, leading to a significant reshuffling in the upper ranks of the service.

Deputy Customs Collector Collie Powery and Deputy Collector Emalie Wilks have a combined 73 years of experience at the department. However, Cayman Islands Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush noted last week that neither is “pensionable at this point.”

Mr. Bush asked Deputy Governor Franz Manderson during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee why the two veteran customs chiefs were retiring at this stage.

“My concern would be any situation like this, you get a lowering of morale,” Mr. Bush said. “Full staff don’t know the reasons why … they start to get uneasy about the whole situation.”

Mr. Manderson said staff had no reason to feel uneasy and that the two officers were retiring with full benefits. “They’re not losing anything,” Mr. Manderson said.

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Customs Collector Charles Clifford said Wednesday that suggestions indicating that the two senior officers were being forced to retire were “incorrect.” He declined to discuss the details of any individual employee’s retirement arrangements.

“Both Mr. Powery and Ms. Wilks are long-term employees of the Customs Department with 37 and 36 years of service, respectively,” Mr. Clifford said. “I take this opportunity to sincerely thank them for their devoted service to the Customs Department.”

The retirements will leave the customs service with a number of individuals in acting leadership roles for the time being.

Two deputy collectors, Kevin Walton and Jeff Jackson, and three assistant collectors, Kerrylyn Ebanks, Nickolas Rivers and Lisa Kelly, have been named to those positions temporarily while positions are advertised for the permanent jobs, Mr. Clifford said.

Deputy Customs Collector Marlon Bodden will stay on in his current role, Mr. Clifford said.

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  1. If my arithmetic is right prior to this retirement we had five deputy “collectors” and three assistant “collectors” all apparently senior management positions. Does this have any thing to do with the current retirements. It would also be interesting to learn what “full benefits” the “retirees” are entitled to.