Published: Jun 26, 2024

ST. THOMAS – The Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance, under the leadership of Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory met in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall. Lawmakers received testimony on the proposed Fiscal Year 2025 Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism.

Jean Pierre Oriol, Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources delivered the Department’s recommended Fiscal Year 2025 Budget which totals $60,459,607. It is anticipated that the general fund will appropriate $6,725,465. Non appropriated local funds total $4,258,849, and federal assistance from grantor agencies of $49,475,293. $31 Million of the $49 million in Federal Funds are infrastructure grants that are passed through DPNR to public utilities. These funds do not contribute to the operations of the Department.

The anticipated FY2025 General Fund appropriation is a 21.83% decrease from Fiscal Year 2024, which was $8,603,923. This is $1,878,458 lower than FY 2024.  The FY 2025 budget includes $4,675,489 for personnel and fringe benefits. This funds 62 positions at the department, of which 22 are exempt and 39 are classified. $146,000 is allocated for supplies, $1,414,976 for other services and charges, and $489,000 for utilities. Additionally, there is a $6.7Million anticipated appropriation that includes an obligatory match for numerous federal awards that include the Virgin Islands Council of the Arts, and many other mandatory obligations such as the Tutu Wells Mitigation site and the allocation for the Virgin Islands Historic Preservation Commission. DPNR has 12 divisions. 9 depend on the General Fund appropriation. Three divisions (CZM, CZZP, and DFW) are funded by federal grants and/or other non-appropriated local funds.

The majority of the Department’s funding comes from federal awards. Of these federal funds, $4,776,383 covers salaries and fringe benefits for 102 positions, with 42 exempt and 60 classifieds, supplies at $565,540, other services and charges at $39,437,362, Utilities at $1216, indirect cost at $1,502,324, and Capital Outlay at $3,192,468. Special Funds contributes $3,032,981 for personnel and fringe benefits which fund 37 positions, of which (17 exempt positions and 20 classified positions), $167,023 or Supplies; $1,048,845 for Other Services and Charges, and $10,000 for Utilities.

Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of the Department of Tourism delivered its FY 2025 budget request of $34,441,073. $3,295,669 is allocated to personnel services, $1,424,350 is for fringe benefits, $522,000 for supplies, and $245,000 in utility services. Other Services of $28,954,054 is mainly reserved to the Tourism Ad Revolving Fund. This includes $8,943,196 in professional services, $150,000 in communication, $610,000 in travel, $450,000 in transportation (not travel), $17,296,858 in advertising and promotion, $50,000 in printing and binding, $35,000 in insurance, $100,000 in repairs and maintenance, $101,000 in rental (land and building), $525,000 in rental of machines and equipment, $100,000 for training, and $595,000 for all other services. There are 40 positions. There are 18 vacancies, 11 on St. Thomas and 7 on St. Croix.

Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Diane T. Capehart, Samuel Carriόn, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Ray Fonseca, Kenneth L. Gittens, Javan E. James, Sr. and Franklin D. Johnson.

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