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Friday, July 19, 2024


Members of the Finance Committee on Tuesday approved 13 budget bills and tabled four to be included in the Omnibus Act, which will be taken up again Wednesday morning.
In a meeting that was delayed by seven and a half hours, the six committee members in attendance acted on remaining budget bills in about two hours.
Voting unanimously to approve the bills were Finance Committee Chair Lorraine Berry and Sens. David Jones, Roosevelt St.C. David, George Goodwin, V. Anne Golden and Gregory Bennerson. Committee member Alicia "Chucky" Hansen was absent.
In a compromise between the Legislature and the administration, the committee agreed to a modified line-item budget for government expenditures for the upcoming year.
The whole committee process was delayed last week when Thursday's scheduled Finance Committee meeting was postponed until Tuesday.
Thursday afternoon St. Thomas Source reported that Post Auditor Campbell Malone said the revenue projections in the fiscal year 2000 budget were $135 million short.
In postponing the meeting Berry said balances in various unidentified government funds had to be reconciled with the Finance Department and Office of Management and Budget before the committee could move forward.
Bennerson told the V.I. Independent on Tuesday that he believes the Legislature may have to consider a supplemental budget to make up the difference in the revenue projections.
"Quite frankly, the expenditures of the government need to be cut and there needs to be a comprehensive plan. We're way off budget," the senator said.
The bills approved Tuesday include:
– A $22.8 million appropriation for salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands.
– A $2.9 million appropriation from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Labor.
– A $1.8 million appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and for other purposes of the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Finance.
– A $2 million appropriation from the Interest Revenue Fund to the General Fund.
– A $2.5 million appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund to the General Fund.
– A $225,000 appropriation from the Special Road Fund to be used for general maintenance on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
– A $391,000 appropriation from the Fish and Game Fund for salaries, operating expenses and for other purposes of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
– A $1.6 million appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works from the Sewage System Fund.
– Transfer of the Office of Collective Bargaining to the Division of Personnel for budgetary purposes only.
– Transfer of the Narcotics Strike Force to the V.I. Police Department for budgetary purposes only.
– A $1.4 million appropriation for the Public Television System.
— A $1.6 million appropriation to the Public Defender's Office.
— A $17.8 milion appropriation to the Territorial Court.
Four bills were tabled indefinately because some are included in the Omnibus Act. The tabled bills seek to adjust retirement contributions, eliminate five government holidays, increase revenue contributions to the General Fund and transfer the Taxi Commission to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
The whole package of budget bills will be addressed Wednesday by the Rules Committee.

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