ST. CROIX – Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Kurt Vialet, re-convened out of recess in a meeting at the Fritz E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room and voted in the affirmative on FY 2022 appropriation transfer requests for the Virgin Islands Department of Education in the amount of $5,549,953.45, Virgin Islands Department of Health in the amount of $95,000, the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services in the amount of $54,281,000, the Virgin Islands Department of Labor in the amount of $646,266.61, and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works in the amount of $1,984,443.66.
Jenifer OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Neal, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated that with regard to the transfers, there is nothing that would cause concern. OMB continues to monitor FY 2022 revenues and expenditures. Additionally, OMB, in collaboration with department heads, will ensure that funds are utilized without affecting the FY 2023 budget. Senator Donna Frett-Gregory cautioned that the appropriation transfers are not over budgeted, which can result in the Governor vetoing FY2023 budget items. However, Senator Vialet mentioned that money funded in FY 2022 should be there in FY 2023. In a line of questioning, Senator Vialet inquired about the days for cash at hand as well as the FY 2021 income tax refunds. In response, OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Neal noted that the government of the Virgin Islands has a total of 15 days of cash on hand. To date, approximately $5,000,000 has been paid for the FY 2021 income tax refunds. OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Neal shared those additional payments will commence during the first week of October 2022.
Lawmakers approved the following appropriation transfer requests:
Ã‚Â· 001-22 Virgin Islands Department of Education Appropriation Transfer, Ã¢â‚¬Å“To provide equipment for the IT Department and the School Food Authority. It will also provide supplies for students and staff as well as allow for school enhancements. Further, the Virgin Islands Department of Education will meet the mandatory regulation that requires uniforms to be provided to cooks, monitors, athletes, and custodians to promote a better learning environment for the children of the Virgin Islands.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã‚Â· 002-22 Department of Health Appropriation Transfer, Ã¢â‚¬Å“To lease four buildings for Behavioral Health due to mold in the current building and to accommodate the cost of leases for rented office space, necessitated by their move from the Charles Harwood Complex.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã‚Â· 003-22 Department of Human Services Appropriation Transfer, Ã¢â‚¬Å“To utilize savings from salaries and fringe benefits for repairs, maintenance, fixtures, and equipment. Additionally, funds will be utilized to build a needed generator housing unit to allow Knud Hansen to remain fully functional during intermittent power outages. Funds will also be channeled to badly needed repairs at the St. John Multi-purpose Center.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã‚Â· 004-22 Department of Labor Appropriation Transfer, Ã¢â‚¬Å“To maximize resources by repairing deficient A/C ducts, installing fire suppression systems in both districts, and modernizing workstations to improve the quality of work for the VIDOL Team. Additionally, a mobile unit will be purchased to improve outreach and accessibility.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã‚Â· 005-22 Department of Public Works Appropriation Transfer, Ã¢â‚¬Å“To fund critical items such as cemetery walls, pickups, outstanding payments, and supplies.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The meeting held today was attended by Kurt Vialet, Donna Frett-Gregory, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Javan E. James, Sr., Samuel CarriÃƒÂ³n, Marvin A. Blyden, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., and Carla Joseph.