St. Thomas

St. John

St.Croix

LAWMAKERS VET LEASES 

Published: May 21, 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 vetted lease agreements for the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. Items on today’s agenda were approved and will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration and action. 

Lawmakers voted to remove Bill No. 35-0262 from the agenda, An Act appropriating $1,434,950 in Fiscal Year 2024 from the Community Facilities Trust Fund for the preconstruction soft cost funding to prepare the Charlotte Amalie harbor for dredging. The measure was proposed by Senator Novelle E. Francis Jr. by request of the Governor. Chair of the Committee, Donna A. Frett-Gregory voiced frustration at the absence of Kevin McCurdy, the Executive Director of the Public Finance Authority, to deliver solid financials for the proposed project. Senator Frett-Gregory stated that the continuous disrespect of not showing up for important matters would not be tolerated in her committee. The Charlotte Amalie Harbor is a major economic driver in the United States Virgin Islands.  

Lawmakers considered Bill No. 35-0261, An Act approving the lease agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Dale Browne and Yvette Browne d/b/a Sejah Farm of the Virgin Islands for Plot No. 9-P Estate VICORP Lands, Prince Quarter, Prince Quarter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and Bill No. 35-0255, An Act approving the multi-year lease agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, acting through its Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement and Rumina Construction, LLC, for Parcel No. 92A (Revised) Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, to operate an equipment and material storage depot yard, construction company office, and other related purposes. Both measures were proposed by Senator Novelle E. Francis Jr. by request of the Governor.  

Vincent Richards, Assistant Commissioner of Property and Procurement delivered testimony on behalf of Lisa M. Alejandro, its commissioner concerning the leases. The terms begin on the first day of the month after the Governor and Legislature of the Virgin Islands’ approval. 

For Bill No. 35-0255, The Lease Agreement between Rumina and the GVI is for Revised Parcel No. 92A Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, consisting of 30,882 U.S. sq. ft. or 0.71 U.S. acre(s) of unimproved land more-or-less. The property would be used to operate an equipment and material storage depot yard, office, and other permitted purposes. This agreement’s term is ten (10) years, and the lease agreement provides two (2), five (5) year renewal options. The annual rent would be twenty-four thousand dollars and zero cents ($24,000.00) payable in equal monthly installments of two thousand dollars and zero cents ($2,000.00) during the term of the lease. The rent payable for the lease would be adjusted annually, including any renewal term in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics. This lease agreement requires at least one million dollars for all limits of public liability coverage. Franklyn Victor, President of Rumina Construction LLC stated that the company had entered into a one-year lease agreement with the Government of the Virgin Islands on September 10, 2023, and desired to enter a long-term lease. Victor stated that without the property, they would not be able to continue recovery construction projects.  

For Bill No. 35-0261, The Lease Agreement between Sejah Farm and the GVI is for Plot No. 9-P Estate VICORP Lands, Prince Quarter, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands consisting of 655,395.048 U.S. sq. ft. or 15.0458 U.S. acres more-or-less. The property will be used for crop and livestock production. This agreement’s term is for twenty (20) years, and the lease agreement provides for an additional ten (10) year renewal option. The annual rent for the above-referenced parcel will be two hundred twenty-five dollars and sixty-nine cents ($225.69) during the term of this Lease. Yvette Browne, delivering testimony on behalf of Sejah Farm stated that developing a local island food system is a challenge, but one that Sejah Farm was committed to taking on as a part of the resurgence of agriculture on St. Croix. Browne stated that the territory’s agricultural system has survived without governmental support for over 59 years. She encouraged the community to encourage farmers to increase production, which could help import certain products and enhance the local food system and food security.  

Senators were scheduled to receive testimony from the Government’s Financial Team on the financial overview of the Government of the Virgin Islands include but not limited to Fiscal Year 2024 budget appropriations vs revenue collections to date; total allotments to date; projected revenues through September 30, 2024 and proposed adjustments for FY 2024 due to revenue shortfall, if any; status of union negotiations; and status of outstanding payments due to vendors for FY 2023. However, correspondence was received that the Governor’s Financial Team was unable to attend. Chair Frett-Gregory mentioned the Mid-Year Financial Review, scheduled to be received before the Legislature on June 7th, due one month after the Revenue Estimating Conference.  

Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Samuel Carriόn, Ray Fonseca, Javan E. James, Sr, and Marise C. James.  

The Division of Public Affairs is committed to providing the community with accurate information on proceedings at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. Visit legvi.org. 

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