ST. CROIX- Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Kurt A. Vialet, convened in a meeting at the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room to receive testimony on several measures regarding lease agreements between the Government of the Virgin Islands (UVI) and Antilles Gas Corporation, and Hearts in Service Association, Inc. Separately, senators voted on bills to adjust the fiscal year 2022 budget and to establish search requirements for an authorized surplus lines broker to fulfill.
Lawmakers voted in the affirmative for Bill No. 34-0169- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, acting through the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement and Antilles Gas Corporation for the leasing of Parcels Nos. 3 and 19 Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Antilles Gas Corporation General Manager David Neely shared the importance of renewing a twenty-year lease with a five-year option. The lease expired in August 2019. Antilles Gas has a total of fifteen employees who are employed for many years. Neely stated that while renting the property from the GVI, major improvements were completed with an estimated cost of a million dollars. Some of the changes are inclusive of replacing the roof, gutters, painting the building, small retention curb, additional drainage, and a truck repair bay garage.
Moreover, senators voted in favor of the following: Bill No. 34-0172- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, acting through the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement and the Hearts in Service Association, Inc. for the leasing of Parcel No. 175C Estate Anna’s Retreat, No. 1 New Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Hearts in Service Association, Inc. Acting President Warren Hendrickson noted that the lease agreement will allow transitional housing accommodations for a maximum of thirty unsheltered homeless patrons, a space utilized for essential services, and to establish a soup kitchen.
In support of both lease agreements, the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement (DPP), Property and Printing Division Deputy Commissioner Vincent Richards stated that in accordance with the Consumer Price Index, the rent for both leases will be adjusted to include renewal terms. Presently, all required documents were submitted to the DPP. The total rent for Antilles Gas Corporation is $120,000 payable in monthly installments of $10,000 for twenty years. Hearts in Service Association, Inc. rent totals $12,000 broken down in monthly installments of $1,000 for the duration of the lease.
Lawmakers voted and approved Bill No. 34-0173- An Act amending Act No. 8479 to adjust the fiscal year 2022 budget for the University of the Virgin Islands and making an appropriation of $280,660 for employment tax on the restoration of 8% of salaries owed to the employees of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). In support of the measure, President of UVI David Hall indicated that the amendment provides the UVI with the payroll taxes, specifically federally mandated Social Security taxes, that must be paid as part of the 8% salary reduction restoration bill. Furthermore, Hall noted that the debt service line will provide the finances required for the construction of the Albert A. Sheen St. Croix campus for the School of Nursing and funding for the Caribbean Green Technology Center.
Lastly, senators voted in favor of Bill No. 34-0166- An Act amending Title 22 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 27 by changing the name of the chapter to “The Virgin Islands Unauthorized and Surplus Lines Insurer Act” and by establishing the diligent search requirements that an authorized surplus lines broker must fulfill before placing coverage for certain lines of insurance with a surplus line insurer in the Territory and other purposes.
Senators attending the meeting: Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Sammuel Carrión, Kurt A. Vialet, Marvin A. Blyden, Janelle K. Sarauw, Donna A. Frett Gregory, Dwayne M. DeGraff and Alma Francis Heyliger. ###