THE DEPT. OF PROPERTY AND PROCUREMENT, THE CASINO CONTROL COMMISSION, AND THE OFFICE OF THE V.I. INSPECTOR GENERAL SHARES THE PROPOSED FY 2021 BUDGET

Published: Jul 10, 2020

ST. THOMAS – Members of the Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Kurt A. Vialet convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Friday to receive testimony on the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Invited testifiers are officials from the Department of Property and Procurement (DPP), the Casino Control Commission (CCC), and the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General.

The Department of Property and Procurement Commissioner Anthony Thomas stated that the proposed FY 2021 budget for the General Fund totals $10,101,950. Comparatively, to the FY 2020 budget of $11,624,047, this is a reduction of thirteen percent. The FY 2021 budget breakdown is as follows: $1,854,430 for personnel services, $879,615 for fringe benefits, $20,000 for operating supplies, and $7,347,905 for other services. Furthermore, Thomas noted that DPP requested additional monies from appropriated funds and non-appropriated funds. Regarding appropriated funds, a total of $185,000 for the Indirect Fund and $7,220,174 for the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund. The budget request for non-appropriated funds is inclusive of the Central Motor Fund, Printing and Production Fund, the Gasoline Coupon Fund, and the Central Warehouse Fund with a combined total of $2,548,780.

To date, DPP’s accomplishments include reducing dependency on the General Fund, increasing revenues, filling vacancies for essential vacancies, revamping internal/external procedures, and digitizing operations. Defending the FY 2021 budget, Thomas mentioned that requested funds are necessary to execute mandates and to continue the progress achieved in FY 2020. Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, goals and objectives are inclusive of improving telecommunications infrastructure, digital platforms, and streamlining processes via technology. Furthermore, to be up to par with working virtually and to reduce expenditures DPP invested in touch screen videoconferencing, a voice over internet protocol system, and increased the bandwidth; according to Thomas.

The recommended FY 2021 budget for the Casino Control Commission totals $823,000. This budget request will cover the salaries of thirteen employees and two vacancies; according to Usie Richards Vice Chairman and Acting Chairman of CCC. The Casino Control Revolving Fund, the General Fund, the Casino Revenue Fund, and the Horse Racetrack Casino Revenue Fund are all the funding sources for the Commission. Separately, Richards mentioned that there are several challenges facing the Commission. Operations are adversely affected due to the lack of staff, specifically positions of leadership such as the Chairman/CEO of CCC and the Director of Gaming Enforcement. As a result, it takes a while to process employee applications, oversee the maintenance of gaming machines, and do background checks on required applications. “We need to expedite filling vacancies with capable and qualified individuals to ensure a quorum is met to address challenges,” Sen. Vialet said.

Lastly, Steven van Beverhoudt, Inspector General of the Office of the Inspector General stated that the proposed FY 2021 budget totals $2,447,334. This is an 18.5% or $556,242 decrease in comparison to allotment of FY 2020. In response to Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory’s inquiry, van Beverhoudt stated that the reduction adversely affects filling six vacancies which means more audits can not be done. Furthermore, the lack of employees increases the workload of existing staff. Separately, the FY 2021 budget breakdown is as follows: $1,324,598 for personnel services, $489,487 for fringe benefits, $55,000 for supplies, $50,000 for utilities, and $128,000.                                                                                                                                                                               ###                                                                                                            

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