THE DEPARTMENT OF PROPERTY & PROCUREMENT, THE V.I. HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY, AND THE V.I. POLICE DEPARTMENT DEFEND THE FY 2023 BUDGET

Published: Aug 10, 2022

ST. THOMAS – Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Kurt A. Vialet, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building 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 Property and Procurement (DPP), the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, and the Virgin Islands Police Department.

The Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement’s operating budget is $24,804,074. The governor’s recommended FY 2023 budget for the Department of Property and Procurement totals $15,759,946 for the General Fund. According to DPP Commissioner, Anthony Thomas, compared to the FY 2022 budget, the FY 2023 budget has an increase of 38%, or $11,392,331. The FY 2023 budget breakdown of the General Fund is as follows: $895,029 for supplies; $800,000 for utilities; $3,895,240 for personnel services; $1,742,377 for fringe benefits; and $8,427,300 for other services and charges. Nonetheless, Thomas noted that DPP requested additional funding to assist with the overall operations. The added funds consist of $4,839,128 from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund; $185,000 from the Indirect Cost Fund; and $4,020,000 from a combined total of the Central Stores & Warehouse Revolving Fund, the Printing and Production Fund, the Central Motor Pool Fund, and the Gasoline Coupon Fund.

Presently, DPP oversees 1169 vehicles and 18 vessels. Thomas mentioned that DPP is in the process of implementing the Government Operation Fleet Energy Efficiency Transformation (GO Fleet) Initiative. Thus far, DPP has started transitioning from the current fleet to alternative, hybrid, and electric-powered vehicles. In response to a line of questioning from Senator Janelle K. Sarauw as it pertains to the fleet, Thomas stated that most of the vehicles will be assigned to the messengers and that fifteen Tesla vehicles were purchased with grant funds. Furthermore, there are eighteen charging units in the Territory, and an additional eighty-two charging stations will be available by the end of this year.

Dayna Clendinen, Interim Executive Director and Chief Disaster Recovery Officer of the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority mentioned that the proposed operating FY 2023 budget totals $38,590,205. The FY 2023 budget breakdown is as follows: $1,856,700 for system upgrades; $170,000 for supplies; $19,354,900 for professional services such as consultants, construction management, and translation services; $1,427,700 for operating expenses; $508,100 for other services and charges; $350,500 for utilities; $850,000 for rent; and $14,072,305 for personnel services. VIHFA has a fleet of twenty-three vehicles, is current with all vendor payments, and does not receive local grants. Clendinen stated that VIHFA has a total of 115 full-time employees; out of that, 71 work on St. Thomas, and 44 are employed on St. Croix. The Virgin Islands Police Department Commissioner, Ray Martinez, stated that the governor’s recommended budget for FY 2023 totals $71,372,356. Compared to FY 2022 of $77,722,630, this is a reduction of $6,350,274. The FY 2023 budget breakdown is as follows: $41,342,224 for personnel services; $15,544,047 for fringe benefits; $4,410,806 for supplies; $7,663,261 for other services; $2,009,777 for utilities; and $402,241 for capital outlays. Additionally, the budget comprises $850,000 for the Tourism Advertising Fund, $427,314 for the Peace Officer Training Fund, and $5,645,654 for Federal Funds. Martinez added that there is money for the $1,564,999 for the Consent Decree, a total of $80,000 for the Police Activities League Territorywide, $85,000 for the St. Thomas Weed and Seed Program, $90,000 for the St. Croix Weed and Seed Program, and $100,000 for Crime Stoppers. To further mitigate crime, Martinez stated that VIPD requested an additional $19,704,450 in ARPA funds to supplement 331 crime-fighting initiatives, projects, and equipment.

Kurt A. Vialet, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Donna Frett-Gregory, Javan E. James, Samuel Carrión, Angel Bolques, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Carla J. Joseph, Marvin A. Blyden, Janelle K. Sarauw, Franklin D. Johnson, Kenneth L. Gittens and Genevieve R. Whitaker attended the meeting.                                                                                                              ###

 

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