THE DEPARTMENT OF SPORTS, PARKS, AND RECREATION, THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OLYMPIC COMMITTEE, THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, AND THE WATER AND POWER AUTHORITY SHARES FY 2024 BUDGET

Published: Jul 19, 2023

THE DEPARTMENT OF SPORTS, PARKS, AND RECREATION, THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OLYMPIC COMMITTEE, THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, AND THE WATER AND POWER AUTHORITY SHARES FY 2024 BUDGET

ST. THOMAS – Members of the 35th Legislature of the Virgin Islands Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance, led by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory, convened a meeting at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall regarding the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands. Lawmakers received testimony concerning the budgets of the Virgin Islands Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation (DSPR), the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee (VIOC), the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission (PSC), and the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA).

Calvert White, the Commissioner of the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation, shared testimony on the FY 2024 budget. The FY 2024 budget totals $10,594,218. Out of that, $10,094,218 is the Governor’s recommended General Fund appropriation, and the remaining $500,000 is from the Tourism Ad Revolving Fund. The breakdown of the General Fund is as follows: $5,286,222 for personnel services; $3,052,033 for fringe benefits; $323,495 for supplies; $509,468 for other services and charges; and $923,000 for utilities. Regarding personnel, DSPR has 45 job positions and four vacancies. Out of the 45, there are 41 classified positions and four exempt positions. White stated that one of the biggest challenges facing DSPR is losing qualified staff due to uncompetitive salaries. Previously, DSPR had approximately 200 employees, and now there is a reduction of 130 employees.

Angel Morales, President of the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee, requested $400,000 for the FY 2024 budget. However, the Governor’s recommended General Fund lump sum budget totals $300,000. Defending the budget, Morales stated that $100,000 more is needed to hire support staff to accommodate the rise of operations and to move forward with the dome project. Nonetheless, VIOC submitted a projected Fiscal Year 2024 budget of $935,000, according to the post audit report. As of April 30th, VIOC had expended $518,736 from monies combined from the General Fund and other funding sources. Senator Frett-Gregory requested that VIOC submit to the committee an update on projected expenditures for the balance of the fiscal year ending in September 2023.

Sandra Setorie, Interim Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Public Service Commission, shared testimony on the FY 2024 budget request. The PSC requested $2,104,325 from the Public Service Revolving Fund appropriation for FY 2024. This is an increase of $23,993 compared to the FY 2023 budget totaling $2,080,332. The FY 2024 budget breakdown is as follows: $1,036,714 for personnel, $38,400 for utilities, $76,540 for supplies, $438,818 for fringe benefits, $75,000 for capital outlay, and $438,853 for other services and charges. PSC does not receive funds from the General Fund. However, their funding is derived from the assessments of the PSC-regulated companies. Setorie noted that PSC’s financial health relies heavily on the continued growth and vitality of the utilities and their ratepayers. Lastly, PSC requested that the FY 2024 budget remain available until expended.

Andrew Smith, Chief Executive Officer V.I. Water and Power Authority mentioned that the FY 2024 Electric and Water budget is an estimated $5.6 million or 4% of operating costs. The budget reflects only internally funded Authority activities such as fuel procurement, debt service, and operating expenses. The budget also reflects key assumptions such as kWh sales and fuel consumption based on recent historical data. It focuses on financial metrics that measure the source and use of internal funds. WAPA does not receive monies from the General Fund. Jacob Lewis, Chief Financial Officer for WAPA stated that the proposed FY 2024 Electric revenues total $260,540,116, with total Sales (kWh) of $578,672,858. The proposed FY capital expenditures are $8,696,415. Senator Frett Gregory pointed out that WAPA is on the same budget cycle as federal agencies which is from July 1st to June 30th. Senator Frett Gregory also requested that WAPA submits to the committee a critical hire list.

Senators present at the committee hearing included Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques, Jr., Diane T. Capehart, Milton E. Potter, Alma Francis Heyliger, Samuel Carrión, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Ray Fonseca, Kenneth L. Gittens, Javan E. James, Sr., and Carla J. Joseph.                                                                                                                 

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