THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, THE OFFICE OF THE TERRITORIAL PUBLIC DEFENDER AND THE LEGAL SERVICES OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS SHARE THE FY 2023 BUDGET

Published: Aug 19, 2022

St. Croix- Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Kurt Vialet, convened in a meeting at the Fritz E. Lawaetz Conference Room and received testimony on the proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands. Invited testifiers are officials from the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS), the Office of the Territorial Public Defender, and Legal Services of the Virgin Islands (LSVI).

The governor’s proposed FY 2023 budget for the General Fund appropriation for the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services totals $66,725,295, DHS Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez noted. The budget breakdown is as follows: $20,563,031 for personnel services; $2,627,000 for utilities; $1,056,662 for supplies; $32,482,471 for other services and charges; $625,000 for miscellaneous; and $9,371,131 for fringe benefits. Compared to the FY 2022 appropriation of $73,773,271, the FY 2023 General Fund budget represents a decline of $7,047,976. Causey-Gomez defended the FY 2023 budget, stating that the funds will be used for initiatives, operations, and other fiduciary responsibilities. In addition to the General Fund, DHS is also slated to receive $188,889,272 for Federal Funds and $2,466,108 for Non-Appropriated Funds. The overall combined sum of the FY 2023 budget totals $258,080,675. Moreover, Causey-Gomez indicated that the FY 2023 goals include establishing a Mass Care Preparedness Office, securing a FEMA obligation to start the design phase for the Aged Projects, increasing the credential workforce, and providing professional and training initiatives for DHS employees.

The governor’s recommended FY 2023 budget for the Office of the Territorial Public Defender is $5,676,220.00. Justifying the budget, Samuel L. Joseph, Chief Public Defender for the Office of the Territorial Public Defender, stated that the annual budget represents coverage for existing salaries, raises, and operational expenses. Joseph noted that as of July 2022, there were 466 cases pending and 153 new cases in the St. Croix District and 385 cases pending and 126 new cases in the St. Thomas/St. John District. The budget breakdown is as follows: $132,054 for utilities; $621,500 for other services and charges; $262,000 for supplies; $1,228,666 for fringe benefits; and $3,102,000 for personnel.

Shelby Gaddy, Esq., Executive Director/CEO of Legal Services of the Virgin Islands, Inc. indicated that the governor’s recommended FY 2023 budget totals $1,632,700. Compared to FY 2022, the FY 2023 budget appropriation remains unchanged. Defending the budget, Gaddy stated that the requested funding will assist LSVI to meet the critical needs of their client community. The FY 2023 budget breakdown is as follows: $20,715 for utilities; $276,744 for other services and changes; $23,525 for supplies; $302,216 for fringe benefits; $964,500 for personnel services; $45,000 for capital outlay. In addition to the General Fund, the overall budget totaling $2,290,800 consists of $108,815 for SOB & AARP; $312,058 for LEPC; and $237,227 for Legal Services Corporation, according to the Post Audit Report.

The meeting was attended by Kurt A. Vialet, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Angel L. Bolques Jr., Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Carla J. Joseph, Marvin A. Blyden, Janelle K. Sarauw, Samuel Carrion, Javan James, and Kenneth L. Gittens.

 

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