Published: Jun 23, 2020

ST. THOMAS – Members of the Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Kurt A. Vialet convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Tuesday to receive testimony on the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Invited testifiers are officials from the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works (DPW), Virgin Islands Division of Personnel (DOP), and Office of Veterans Affairs.

DPW Commissioner Nelson Petty stated that the Department of Public Works FY 2021 budget totals $18,097,628. This is a significant reduction of $3,126,637 in comparison to the FY 2020 Budget of $21,224,265. The FY 2021 budget breakdown is as follows: $6,718,141 or 37% for personnel services, $3,198,034 or 18% for Fringe benefits, $386,906 or 2% for supplies, $7,581,547 or 42% for other services & charges, and $213,000 or 1% for capital outlay. Petty indicated that despite appropriations of funds, one of the challenges is that the Federal Government does not disseminate funds for road maintenance. “Federal funds can only be used for designated projects. All road maintenance, such as guardrail repairs, patching, striping – they all must be paid with local funds,” Petty said.

In addition to appropriations from the General Fund, Petty mentioned that DPW is allotted to receive $300,000 from the Tourism Revolving Fund, $500,000 from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund, and $1,000,000 from the Anti-litter & Beautification Fund for road maintenance and clean-ups. Sen. Myron Jackson expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of the roads. “The Virgin Islands is a tourist destination and yet residents are experiencing deplorable roads that are littered. I recommend rotating the roadside clean-up crew per island,” Sen. Jackson said. In response, Petty noted that although the roadside clean-up crew is working regularly the team is very limited. Sen. Donna Frett Gregory suggested utilizing inmates to assist in roadside clean-ups and beautification. Separately, DPW is slated to receive federal monies totaling $23,179,435 from the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Moreover, Petty stated that the Office of Public Transportation is applying for Federal Grants totaling $4,100,960 under the CARES ACT.

The Division of Personnel recommended FY 2021 budget totals $42,599,985. Furthermore, the appropriations include the General Fund totaling $42,040,918, $530,867 for the Indirect Cost Fund, and an estimated $37.4 Million for the Health Insurance for retirees; according to Florine Audain-Hassell, Assistant Director for the Division of Personnel who testified on behalf of DOP Director Dayna Clendenin. The budget breakdown is as follows: $2.4 million for personnel services, $1.1 million for fringe benefits, $45 thousand for supplies, $171 thousand for utilities, and $38.5 million for other services and charges.

Lastly, Patrick Farrell, Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs indicated that the proposed FY 2021 budget totals $908,998; a reduction in comparison to the FY 2020 budget of $997,077,000. The breakdown is as follows: $400,000 for medical travel and burial expenses, $393,341 for personnel services, and $115,657 for operating expenses. Farrell stated an additional $117,000 is anticipated from the Taxi Cab Commission and the Virgin Islands Lottery.                              ###

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