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May 2024
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APPROPRIATION TRANSFERS CONSIDERED, PORT AUTHORITY AND LEGISLATURE DEFEND FY 2024 BUDGET 

Published: Aug 28, 2023

ST. THOMAS – Convening in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall, the Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance, under the leadership of Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory considered appropriation transfers and budget requests for the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Lawmakers received testimony concerning appropriation transfers from the Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency. Additionally, the budgets of the Virgin Islands Port Authority and the Legislature of the Virgin Islands were considered.

In Block 1, Kimika Woods, Associate Director of Budget Operations for the Office of Management and Budget delivered testimony regarding the proposed appropriation transfer request for the Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services (VIFEMS) and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA). OMB reviewed both requests and analyzed the information to ensure the availability of funds within both agencies’ budgets. In Fiscal Year 2023, $33,746,207 was appropriated to VIFEMS from the General Fund. $32,540,207 of the fund is available to meet the agency’s daily operational needs. FEMS identified a need to reallocate $300,000 from the “Other Services and Charges” category to the “Capital Outlay” category to pay outstanding obligations due to vendors. As of August 15, 2023, $998,060 of the $1,069,623 appropriation projected to be available for reallocation.

In Fiscal Year 2023, $6,326,824 was appropriated to VITEMA from the General Fund. $5,703,072 of the funds are available to meet its daily operational needs. The 34th Legislature provided an additional $100,000 in the appropriation to assist the department for securing hurricane preparation equipment, particularly sandbags. This, however, was placed in the other services and charges budget category instead of the supplies budget category. As of August 15, 2023, $247,975 was projected to be available for reallocation. Both appropriations were voted upon favorably and will be signed by the Committee Chair and will be sent to the Office of Management and Budget for further review.

In block two, Carlton Dowe, the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority delivered testimony. The VIPA Board of Governors approved its Fiscal Year 2024 budget of $246 Million at its meeting held on July 26, 2023. The Port Authority is an autonomous, self-sustaining government agency and does not receive any money from the General Fund. The budget is 7.9% less than the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which was $266 million. Operating expenses are $67.3 million, excluding depreciation of $15.5 Million. Debt services and capital project expenditures at $7.2 million, and $175.1 Million, respectively. Aviation revenues for Fiscal Year 2024 are anticipated to be $35.6 Million. Marine revenues are projected at $38.1 Million. The Authority has 345 employees. This includes 222 permanent and twelve temporary employees in the St. Thomas – St. John District and 108 permanent and three temporary employees in the St. Croix District. There are currently fifty-eight vacancies. Payroll costs for Fiscal Year 2024 total $40.7 Million. Payroll, taxes, and benefits account for 49% of VIPA’s expense budget.

In block three, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., in his capacity as the President the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, joined Kurell Sheridan, JD, Executive Director of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands to deliver budget testimony. The total budget for the Legislature totals $24,202,000. The Fiscal Year 2024 budget request maintains a $21 Million operating budget and increases line-item requests slightly. An increase of less than 1%, or $106,000 from Fiscal Year 2023 has been requested. Within this operating budget, $6,615,000 is allocated for senatorial offices, $1,160,800 for legislative committees, and $13,224,200 for central operations. Personnel Services is allocated at $12,400,000, Fringe benefits at $5,480,000, and other Services and Charges at $3,120,000. Other services include supplies, professional services and contracts, membership dues, rent, security monitoring, communication costs, maintenance costs, travel related costs, and other related costs. There are 222 employees at the Legislature. This includes eighty-three senatorial staff employees, and 139 central staff employees. There are eighty-four employees in St. Croix. There are 138 employees in St. Thomas. There are thirty-six senatorial staff members in St. Croix, and forty-seven in St. Thomas. There are forty-eight central staff members in St. Croix and ninety-one central staff members in St. Thomas. There are currently nine vacancies.

Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques, Jr., Dwayne M. Degraff, Alma Francis Heyliger, Ray Fonseca, Javan E. James, Sr., Franklin D. Johnson, and Carla J. Joseph.

The Division of Public Affairs is committed to providing the community with accurate information on legislative proceedings and other events at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.
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