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LAWMAKERS CONSIDER FY 2022 APPROPRIATION TRANSFER REQUESTS FOR FIVE DEPARTMENTS, FY 2023 ENABLING LEGISLATION AND COMMITTEE BILLS FORWARDED

Published: Sep 13, 2022

  1. THOMAS – Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Kurt A. Vialet, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building and received testimony on the proposed FY 2022 transfer requests and other amendments. Separately, policymakers voted favorably for the proposed FY 2023 budget enabling legislation for the Government of the Virgin Islands and several bills. All approved items on the agenda will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

Jenifer O’Neal, Director of the Office of Management and Budget testified on the appropriation transfer requests for the following: The Virgin Islands Department of Education (DOE), the Virgin Islands Department of Health, the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services, the Virgin Islands Department of Labor, and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works. The combined total for the transfer requests is approximately $13.6 million. Senator Novelle Francis, Jr. queried whether all financial options were explored prior to this hearing. In response, O’Neal indicated that the monies from the General Fund will expire if not used by the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2022. She said that this is an attempt to not leave funding on the table for the end of this fiscal year. Senator Francis stated that if the money is unused it will remain in the bank accounts; this is not a “use or lose” situation.

001-22 Virgin Islands Department of Education Appropriation Transfer, “To provide equipment for the IT Department and the School Food Authority. It will also provide supplies for students and staff as well as allow for school enhancements. Further, the Virgin Islands Department of Education will meet the mandatory regulation that requires uniforms to be provided to cooks, monitors, athletes, and custodians to promote a better learning environment for the children of the Virgin Islands.” O’Neal stated that DOE is seeking to transfer $6,562,863 from Personnel to Supplies – $2,199,624, Other Services & Charges – $2,389,432, and Capital Outlay – $1,973,806.

Senator Vialet expressed dissatisfaction with the request for funding from the General Funds before exhausting all the federal monies allocated for repairs including air conditioner repairs or replacements at the Department of Education. “We have students and teachers who are crying because of the lack of air conditioners in the classroom. We have a pot of money that can be utilized to assist the schools. However, for some reason monies are requested from the General Fund,” expressed Senator Vialet. “We need to protect the General Fund as much as possible to ensure the monies are utilized for outstanding situations that the Federal funds do not cover,” Senator Vialet concluded.

002-22 Department of Health Appropriation Transfer, “To lease four buildings for Behavioral Health due to mold in the current building.” O’Neal stated that the Department of Health is seeking to transfer $95,000 from Fringe Benefits to Other Services & Charges to accommodate the cost of leases for rented office space, necessitated by their move from the Charles Harwood Complex.

003-22 Department of Human Services Appropriation Transfer, “To utilize savings from salaries and fringe benefits for repairs, maintenance, fixtures, and equipment. Additionally, funds will also be utilized to build a needed generator housing unit to allow Knud Hansen to remain fully functional during intermittent power outages. Funds will also be channeled to badly needed repairs at the St. John Multi-purpose Center.” O’Neal indicated that the Department of Human Services seeks to transfer $2,286,885 from Personnel and $1,994,115 from Fringe Benefits (a total of $4,281,000) to increase Supplies – $1,205,780, Other Services & Charges by $916,000, and Capital Outlays by $2,159,220.

004-22 Department of Labor Appropriation Transfer, “To maximize resources by repairing deficient A/C ducts, installing fire suppression systems in both districts, and modernizing workstations to improve the quality of work for the VIDOL Team. Additionally, a mobile unit will be purchased to improve outreach and accessibility” The Department of Labor seeks to transfer $768,808 from Personnel, $16,300 from Supplies, and $204,265 from Other Services & Charges to Capital Outlays for a total of $989,374, according to O’Neal.

005-22 Department of Public Works Appropriation Transfer, “To fund critical items such as cemetery walls, pickups, outstanding payments, and supplies.” O’Neal indicated that the Department of Public Works seeks to transfer $1,195,017 from Personnel and $789,427 from Fringe (A total of $1,984,444) to increase Other Services & Charges by $250,000 and Capital Outlay by $1,734,444.

Separately, senators voted in the affirmative for all the Fiscal Year 2023 Enabling Legislations; except for Bill No. 34-0317 which was removed from the agenda. The following approved items will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration:

  • Bill No. 34-0302 – An Act providing an appropriation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0303 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operation of the judicial branch of the Government of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council, and the Office of the Territorial Public Defender during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0304 – An Act providing an appropriation for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0305 – An Act providing an appropriation for salaries and expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Elections and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0306 – An Act providing an appropriation from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works for operating expenses during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0307 – An Act providing an appropriation for the salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0308 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Education from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023 Bill No. 34-0309 – An Act providing an appropriation from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund to the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement for operating expenses for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0310 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Career and Technical Education Board from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0311 – An Act providing an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0312 – An Act providing an appropriation from the Government Insurance Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands to the Department of Labor and the Department of Finance for operating expenses during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0313 – An Act providing for the lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund to the Virgin Islands Department of Health for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0314 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0315 – An Act providing for a lump-sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses, and other purposes to the Office of Management and Budget, the Virgin Islands Division of Personnel, the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and the Virgin Islands Department of Finance for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0316 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0318 – An Act providing an appropriation from the Virgin Islands Lottery as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0319 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Virgin Islands Labor Management Committee for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0320 – An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewer Waste Water Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0321 – An Act providing an appropriation to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0322 – An Act providing an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of Management and Budget, Virgin Islands Police Department, the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture and the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0323 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0324 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0325 – An Act providing an appropriation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Nurse Licensure for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0326 – An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Motor Vehicles from the Transportation Trust Fund during the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0327 – An Act providing an appropriation for the sum of $6,000,000 from the Virgin Islands Insurance Guaranty Fund as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023
  • Bill No. 34-0328 – An Act amending title 22 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 10, section 237(a)(3)(A) and title 33, chapter 111, section 3061 relating to the balance in the Virgin Islands Insurance Guaranty Fund to amend the currently required $40,000,000 amount which is set to increase to $50,000,000 on September 30, 2022
  • Bill No. 34-0329 – An Act providing an appropriation from the Crisis Intervention Fund for the fiscal year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023

Lastly, committee members voted in favor of the following measures:

  • Bill No. 34-0330 – An Act appropriating funds for the adoption of various portions of the Virgin Islands Agricultural Plan, submitted by the Agricultural Plan Task Force on December 29, 2021, as the official Agricultural Plan for the Territory. Proposed by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory
  • Bill No. 34-0332 – An Act appropriating $570,000 from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund to the Virgin Islands Port Authority to complete repairs and construction at the Loredon Lorence Boynes, Sr. Dock on the island of St. John. Proposed by Senators Donna A. Frett-Gregory and Kurt Vialet
  • Bill No. 34-0333 – An Act appropriating funds from the Virgin Islands Lottery in the fiscal year 2022 to the Government Employees Retirement System for bonus pay shortfalls from fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Proposed by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory
  • Bill No. 34-0334 – An Act appropriating funds from the General Fund in Fiscal Year 2022 to the University of the Virgin Islands for the purpose of paying retroactive merit increases to employees who separated from the University during the period of January 1, 1992 through December 31, 1998. Proposed by Senators Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., and Kurt Vialet
  • Bill No. 34-0335 – An Act reconciling Acts No. 8474 and 8590 and making various appropriations available until September 30, 2023; making a correction to Act No. 8578; and amending Act No. 8496 appropriating additional funds to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority. Proposed by Senators Kurt Vialet, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr.
  • Bill No. 34-0336 – An Act amending title 18 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 7, section 158 to increase the compensation of election officers and clerks. Sponsored by Senators Kenneth L. Gittens and Senator Kurt Vialet
  • Bill No. 34-0337 – An Act appropriating the sum of $679,250 from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund to the Virgin Islands Port Authority to be used for the resurfacing of the Gordon Finch Molasses Pier Facility. Sponsored by Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr.
  • Bill No. 34-0339 – An Act authorizing the Department of Property and Procurement to set aside a portion of Parcel F Submarine Base No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands for the Office of Veterans Affairs for the construction of a veteran’s complex and appropriating a total of 3,000,000 for construction completion. Sponsored by Senators Dwayne M. DeGraff, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, and Kurt Vialet
  • Bill No. 34-0294 – An Act amending Act 8474 to adjust the fiscal year 2022 budget to appropriate funds to U.S.V.I. Soccer, Inc. as a grant for additional improvements to the professional soccer field at Plot 23-I Estate Bethlehem St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to add coverings for the bleachers and a new parking lot. Sponsored by Senators Franklin D. Johnson and Senator Vialet
  • Bill No. 34-0339 – An Act amending 8474 is amended in the miscellaneous section by adding a line item for the construction of a veteran’s multipurpose center on the island of St. Thomas in the amount of $1,500,000. Sponsored by Senators Dwayne M. DeGraff, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, and Kurt Vialet

Ultimately, the Committee on Finance recessed until Thursday, September 13, 2022, to deal with the appropriation transfers.

The meeting held today was attended by Kurt A. Vialet, Donna Frett-Gregory, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Javan E. James, Samuel Carrión, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Kenneth L. Gittens, and Janelle K. Sarauw.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ###

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