Published: Aug 24, 2022

ST. CROIX- Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Kurt Vialet, convened in a meeting at the Fritz E. Lawaetz Conference Room 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 Lottery (VIL), the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission (VICCC), and the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA).

Raymond Williams, Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Lottery, stated that some of the goals for FY 2023 are inclusive of the development of the VIL app for subscription lottery sales; enforcing entertainment site inspections along with form tracking; filling vacancies such as enforcement officers; and providing training in critical areas such as case management; search and seizure procedures, and tactical skills. Senator Marvin Blyden inquired about branding and marketing techniques utilized by VIL. In response, Williams noted that marketing funds are primarily designated for lottery giveaways during marketing events. VIL’s projected revenues for FY 2023 are $22,332,866 and projected expenses are $21,426,516, creating a profit of $906,348. This represents a decrease of $236,914 below the FY 2022 profit of $1,143,262, according to the Post Audit Report. Regarding personnel, Williams stated that VIL has forty-three employees with a combined salary of $2,329,801. Senator Vialet stated that there are unqualified individuals who are hired to manage personnel who meet the qualifications of the job; this is happening based on who they know. “It needs to stop,” Vialet concluded.

The governor’s recommended FY 2023 General Fund Lumpsum from the Miscellaneous Section of the Department of Finance totals $823,000 for the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission. However, Marvin Pickering, Chairman, and CEO of VICCC, is requesting an additional $172,000, bringing the FY 2023 budget total to $995,700. Defending his request, Pickering stated that the General Fund budget supports fifteen employees and three vacancies. In addition to the General Fund, Pickering indicated the overall budget comprises the Casino Control Revolving Fund, of which, as of May 2022, a total of $64,545 was collected by the Commission. The Casino Revenue Fund, which represents funds appropriated from the Department of Finance to the Commission, totals $126,553.25 for the first two quarters of FY 2022. Lastly, Pickering shared that the Horse Racetrack Casino Revenue Fund has not provided funding to the Commission since May 2016. However, the Commission received $8,356 in federal funds.

The governor’s recommended FY 2023 budget for the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority totals $35,000,000, according to Roger Merritt, Jr., Executive Director at VIWMA. The overall FY 2023 budget totals $36,300,000. The breakdown of the overall budget is as follows: $35,000,000 for the General Fund; $1,000,000 for the Sewer Fund; and $300,000 for the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund. The FY 2023 projected revenue collection is $2,195,340. Currently, VIWMA has an outstanding balance of vendor payments totaling $38,451,025 in accordance with the Post Audit Report. Senator Donna Frett-Gregory stated that there needs to be accountability for VIWMA because there are unpaid vendors who were owed payment from 2017–2022. Sen. Vialet stated that there are a lot of vendors who must be paid. This is a unique opportunity to fix, and one mechanism is to review unfilled vacancies and use them for the vendors.

The meeting was attended by Kurt Vialet, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Carla J. Joseph, Franklin Johnson, Marvin A. Blyden, Janelle K. Sarauw, Samuel Carrion, Javan E. James, and Kenneth L. Gittens.             ###

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