ST. CROIX – The Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Kurt Vialet continued budget hearings today, in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room. The agenda consisted of the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget proposals for the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Information Technology.
Gary Molloy, the Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Labor provided testimony. The Department’s general fund budget request totaled $7,465,404 for Fiscal Year 2023. The department currently has 125 employees in the territory, with 12 temporary employees. It represents the total salary and fringe benefits of $5,263,810 for 66 positions, with a remaining $2,201,594 for mandatory operating costs. The Government Insurance Fund for FY2023 is $1,385,526 budgeted for salary and fringe for 21 employees, with a remaining $518,938 for mandatory operating costs. There are 67 employees in the St. Thomas-St. John District and 58 employees in the St. Croix District.
The total federal budget for FY 2023 is $3,989,571 and is budgeted for salary and fringe for 54 positions, with a remaining $3,056,085 for other mandatory operating costs. A total of 28 individuals were hired from October 2021 through June 2022. This included 16 new hires, 7 promotions, 3 temporary, and 2 transfers. In Molloy’s testimony, he stated that some of the Department’s goals included, but were not limited to, producing annual labor economic analysis for the Virgin Islands, conducting surveys for occupational wages and occupational injury and illness, maintaining partnerships with other VI Government agencies on workforce data, partnering with the Bureau of Economic Research to conduct a private sector business activity survey to access the current COVID pandemic impact and expanding employer quarterly data to provide hourly or annual wages and occupation of the Virgin Islands Workforce.
Rupert Ross, the Director of the Bureau of Information Technology provided testimony. The Bureau’s general fund budget request totaled $12,656,001 for Fiscal Year 2023. This includes $1.6 million for personnel services, fringe benefits at $689,000, supplies at $107,000, and other services and charges at about $10.2 million. Utilities were about $70,000. There are 27 total positions. Salary increases have been included in the budget request for Fiscal Year 2023. 19 positions are filled. There are 7 exempt and 12 classified non-union positions. 8 positions are vacant. This includes 3 exempt and 5 classified non-union positions.
Ross indicated that some of the goals of the bureau included the objective of digital transformation of the Government of the Virgin Islands, the presentation of a comprehensive “Digital Transformation Strategy,” and road map that supports the Bureau of Information Technology, aligning technology innovations with the services of all agencies of the Government of the Virgin Islands, promoting and supporting the use of information technology to benefit the residents of the US Virgin Islands, and ensuring that all agencies in the Government of the Virgin Islands are transforming their IT in accordance with the Government of the Virgin Islands organization and BIT’s enterprise strategy and roadmap, ensuring optimal usage of IT resources.
Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Kurt Vialet, Marvin A. Blyden, Samuel Carrión, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Javan E. James, Sr., Janelle K. Sarauw, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Carla Joseph, Donna Frett-Gregory, and Kenneth L. Gittens.