THE ELECTION SYSTEM OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, THE VIRGIN ISLANDS ENERGY OFFICE, AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DEFEND THE FY 2023 BUDGET

Published: Aug 17, 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 Election
System of the Virgin Islands (ESVI), the Virgin Islands Energy Office (VIEO), and the Virgin
Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA).
The governor’s proposed FY 2023 budget for the Election System of the Virgin Islands totals
$2,453,757, according to Caroline Fawkes, Election System of the Virgin Islands. However, the
Board of Elections requested a General Fund increase totaling $2,732,725. The breakdown of the
General Fund lump sum is as follows: $1,094,290.00 for personnel services and fringe benefits;
$82,071.75 for supplies; $1,313,148.00 for other/professional services; $136,786.25 for
communications; and $109,429.00 for utility services. According to the Post Audit Report, ESVI is
slated to receive an additional $218,486. Fawkes noted that the total cost of the expenditures incurred
by the primary election totaled $149,213.89. To date, the Office of the Supervisor has expended
84%, or $2,016,872.69 of its budget. Senator Vialet inquired whether ESVI has sufficient funds to
conduct the general election. In response, Fawkes mentioned that a supplemental budget of
approximately $125,000 for the general election is required. Additionally, $350,000 will be requested
to conduct the runoff election. Senator Vialet urged voters to exercise their right to vote. “I want to
encourage everyone to register to vote because your vote counts. You have an opportunity to choose
the next set of leaders to represent you in the Virgin Islands. ”
Kyle Fleming, Director of the Virgin Islands Energy Office, noted that the governor’s recommended
$1,562,306 for the FY 2023 General Fund. Compared to the FY 2022 total of $1,549,854, this is an
increase of $12,452. The General Fund breakdown is as follows: $837,602 for personnel; $12,000 for
utilities; $318,264 for other services and charges; $21,500 for supplies; and $372,940 for fringe
benefits. In addition to the General Fund, Fleming mentioned that the VIEO anticipates an amount of
$1,549,854 from Federal Funds. According to the Post Audit Report, there is a total of $291,936.94
for outstanding vendor payments to FPL Energy Services, Inc. for the years 2014 and 2017.
Some of the challenges plaguing the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture are the lack of
professional development for employees, the need for land security, re-establishing the Virgin
Islands Conservation District in collaboration with agencies to develop methods to eradicate climate
change, and the lack of consistent water distribution strategies, according to Positive Nelson,
Commissioner of VIDA. The governor’s recommended FY 2023 budget totals $5,685,958. In
addition to the General Fund, the overall budget totaling $7,950,384, is also inclusive of $1,200,346
for local Non-Appropriated Funds and $1,064,080 for Federal Funds.
The meeting was attended by Kurt A. Vialet, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Angel Bolques, Novelle E.
Francis, Jr., Carla J. Joseph, Genevieve Whitaker, Marvin A. Blyden, Alma Francis Heyliger, Janelle
K. Sarauw, Franklin D. Johnson, Samuel Carrion, and Kenneth L. Gittens.

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