ST. THOMAS – The Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Kurt Vialet continued budget hearings today, in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall. The day’s agenda consisted of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget proposals for the Department of Tourism, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Public Services Commission.
Joseph Boschulte, the Commissioner of the Department of Tourism delivered testimony. According to Boschulte, the recommended budget for the Department is $30,097,941. This is a 17 percent increase of the FY 2022 budget, which was $25,715,632. There are 38 total positions. Of these positions, 25 were unclassified and filled. One position was unclassified and vacant. There are 9 unclassified new positions. There are three classified filled positions.
Joel A. Lee, the Director of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue delivered testimony. According to Lee, the recommended budget totals $13,176,237 for FY 2023. This is a decrease from FY 2022, which totaled $16,001,332. There are 153 positions. 101 positions are on St. Thomas. 50 of the positions are on St. Croix. Two positions are on St. John. There are 25 unclassified filled positions. There is one unclassified vacant position. There are 104 classified filled positions. There are 15 classified vacant positions. There are 8 new classified positions. Within this fiscal year, there were 10 new hires, 16 promotions, and three resignations. There are 18 vacancies, funded at 50% to account for the practical time for hiring in the fiscal year.
Donald G. Cole, the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission delivered testimony. The recommended budget for the department totals $2,080,332. This represented an increase of .14% from FY 2022. There are 14 positions. There are 12 unclassified filled positions, and two unclassified vacant positions. The Public Services Commission is also overseen by a board of 5 voting members. It currently has a compliment of four voting members. It receives 100% of its funding through assessments from the utilities it regulates in accordance with Title 30, section 25a.
Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Kurt Vialet, Marvin A. Blyden, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Janelle K. Sarauw, Samuel Carrión, Javan James, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Kenneth L. Gittens, and Genevieve R. Whitaker.