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ESVI, VIEDA, AND VIHA DEFEND FISCAL 2022 BUDGET

Published: Aug 19, 2021

St. Croix–Chaired by Senator Kurt A. Vialet, the Committee on Finance received testimony on the FY 2022 Executive Budget on Wednesday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, St. Croix from the Election System of the Virgin Islands (ESVI), VI Economic Development Authority (VIEDA), and the Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA).

Caroline Fawkes, Supervisor of ESVI, said the proposed budget for the Fiscal Year 2022 is $2,732,725. Personnel Services including Fringe Benefits-$1,366,362.50, Supplies-$81,981.75, Professional Services-$1,175,071.75, and Utility Services-$109,309.00.

According to Fawkes, as of August 1, 2021, the Office of the Supervisor has expended $1,314,561 (91-percent) of its budget.

The Board of Elections proposed budget for the Fiscal Year is $344,660.000. This is an increase of $204,660.00. The proposed FY2022 budget is as follows: Personnel services $120,000.00, Supplies-$50,000.00, and Other Services $174,660.00, including Stipends, Travel, Retreat workshops, and Professional Election Training for Board Members.

As of August 1, 2021, the Board of Elections has expended $126,000.00 (91-percent) of its budget. According to the Chairman of the Board of Elections, Raymond Williams, the goal of the Board of Elections is to make sure they maximize the number of citizens who can participate in the most fundamental responsibilities of exercising their right to vote.

The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) is a semi-autonomous governmental agency responsible for promoting and enhancing economic development and fostering positive public/private sector partnerships to improve the standard of living for U.S. Virgin Islands residents.

The VIEDA General Fund recommendation for Fiscal Year 2022 is $7,195,741. Included in this amount are: Personnel Services-$3,073,159, Utilities-$155,600, Capital Outlay-$59,260, Other Services and Charges-$2,533,966, Supplies $20,606, and Fringe Benefits-$1,353,151.

Wayne Biggs, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, VIEDA, said in Fiscal Year 2021, a prudent approach to financial decisions allowed the Authority to maximize its $5,613,344 budget to accomplish its planned objective, thereby meeting and, in some cases, exceeding its goals.

According to the VIEDA CEO, ten (10) certificates of VIEDA tax incentive have been executed in this fiscal year. Based upon the commitments made by these Beneficiaries, the Territory will realize new and continued employment at a minimum of 351 full-time employees and approximately $87.4 million in capital investment and $747,600 in annual charitable contributions.

He added that it is estimated, the Beneficiaries will potentially generate taxes to the Territory of more than $17 million over five years should the business operations materialize as projected. He pointed out that there are 72 VIEDC Beneficiaries to date, with 38 in St. Thomas/St. John and 34 in the St. Croix.

VIHA’s total Federal funding for FY 2021 was $47,423,990. The approved fund for the Capital Fund Grant Program (CFGP) for FY 2021 is $9,516,052; this represents a decrease of ($619,408) below FY 2020 amount of $10,135,460.

For the current fiscal year, Robert Graham, Executive Director, VIHA, said that HUD provided approximately $46.4 million to the Housing Authority to assist around 4,000 families with housing in the Territory. He added that this housing subsidy helps about 2,000 public housing families and 2,000 low-to-moderate income families utilizing Housing Choice Vouchers.

Senators at Wednesday’s budget hearing were Chairman Kurt A. Vialet, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Marvin A. Blyden, Javan E. James, Sr., Kenneth L. Gittens, Janelle K. Sarauw, Genevieve R. Whitaker, Carla J. Joseph, Franklin D. Johnson, and Novelle E. Francis, Jr.

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