Sept. 19, 2002 – Following is a summary of the actions taken by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on the Fiscal Year 2003 budget bills, seven rezoning bills and the catch-all Omnibus Act of 2003, as stated in a 10-page, single-spaced letter he sent to the president of the 24th Legislature on Wednesday.
Turnbull approved budgets of $490 million for the executive branch, $16.5 million for the Legislature, $23.7 million for the judicial branch and $29.1 million for the University of the Virgin Islands.
He signed all FY 2003 budget appropriation bills:
No. 24-0265 – appropriating $1.6 million for Property and Procurement Department operating expenses, from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund.
No. 24-0266 – appropriating $29 million to the University of the Virgin Islands for salaries and operations.
No. 24-0267 -appropriating $2.6 million to the Finance and Labor Departments for operations, from the Government Insurance Fund.
No. 24-0268 – appropriating a lump sum of $2.8 million for the Health Department, from the Health Revolving Fund.
No. 24-0269 – appropriating a lump sum of $2.7 million for salaries and operations of the Office of Management and Budget, Division of Personnel, Property and Procurement Department and Finance Department, from the Indirect Cost Fund.
No. 24-0270 – appropriating $5 million from the Insurance Guaranty Fund to the General Fund.
No. 24-0271 – appropriating $3.5 million from the Interest Revenue Fund to the General Fund.
No. 24-0272 – appropriating $69 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund to the General Fund and other transfers.
No. 24-0273 – appropriating $3.1 from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund for interfund transfers.
No. 24-0274 – appropriating $362,285 for Property and Procurement Department payroll and operations from the Transportation Revolving Fund.
No. 24-0275 – appropriating $940,000 for Public Works Department operations from the Sewage System Fund.
No. 24-0276 – appropriating $10 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to the General Fund.
No. 24-0277 – appropriating $605,576 to the Public Service Commission for operations.
No. 24-0278 – appropriating $1.6 million for Public Works Department operations from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund.
No. 24-0279 – appropriating $4.5 million to WTJX/Public Television System from the General Fund.
No. 24-0280 – appropriating $750,000 to the Housing Parks and Recreation Department for the territory's annual carnival events from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund.
No. 24-0281 – appropriating $100,000 for operations of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee.
No. 24-0286 – authorizing the Office of Management and Budget director to allocate $4 million from the Miscellaneous Section to cover salary increases to executive branch departments and agencies.
No. 24-0287 – amending the V.I. Code to let the Property and Procurement commissioner set fees for use of the government printing office.
No. 24-0288 – appropriating $346,455 to the Taxicab Commission for operations.
No. 24-0289 – appropriating $1.1 million from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Public Works Department, and for other purposes.
No. 24-0290 – appropriating $23.7 million for Territorial Court and Judicial Council salaries and operations, and for other purposes.
No. 24-0291 – appropriating $2.6 million for Territorial Public Defender's Office operations.
No. 24-0292 – approving allocation of the territory's 2002 federal Community Development Block Grant of $1.95 million and CDBG funds to be reprogrammed from four previous years.
No. 24-0303 – appropriating $16.5 million for salaries and operations of the Legislature.
The governor said while he decided to approve all of the above bills, the territory "must be cognizant of the changing revenue picture … While the public expects and demands various services from the government … the ability of the government to deliver will depend greatly on our revenue picture and maximizing our available resources."
He also approved Bill No. 24-0282 with one line-item veto."Veto of this item will ensure that all Beacon Schools in the territory will remain in operation," he said in his letter.
Omnibus line-item vetoes
Bill No. 24-0293, the 46-page, $22 million-plus Omnibus Appropriation Act of 2003, was the one that took up a lot of the governor's time and used up a fair amount of his ink. The bill and its amendments called for additional appropriations of more than $22 million. He line-item vetoed sections accounting for more than $13 million. They were, among other things, to:
– Reprogram tobacco funds for the creation of a cardiac center at Juan F. Luis Hospital. He cited advice from bond counsel that such a unilateral change in the territory's tobacco bonds authorization "could result in the recall of the entire bond issue."
– Appropriate $1.6 million to Luis Hospital from the General Fund to hire additional staff and raise salaries. He accused the senators of "legislative encroachment and irresponsible appropriations" and of "attempting to micromanage" hospital operations "and abrogate the role of the board of directors and the executive branch."
– Appropriate $3.75 million to the Housing Authority for mortgage subsidies and building and repair programs. He said expending funds in such ways "could result in shortfalls in the allotments to other agencies."
– Provide funding for potable water installation. The Water and Power Authority, he said, "has both the financial and technical ability to expand the potable water system."
– Create a territorial appellate court and appropriate $2.5 million to fund it. He said he favors the establishment of such a court but does not believe "that it should be done in a vacuum" without public discussion. He also said the proposed funding source — the Insurance Guaranty Fund — is "both improper and as a practical matter non-existent."
– Establish the Land Buyers Protection Act. He said the measure in changing the obligations of sellers in land transactions would "potentially harm the interests of individuals wishing to buy and sell land."
– Reduce the time frame to 90 days from the current 180 days in which interim heads of departments and agencies can serve in an acting capacity while a search is undertaken to find a permanent appointee. "The shortening of the time frame would only aggravate the problem," the governor said.
– Use Planning and Natural Resources Department hunting and sportfishing fees to create a Fish and Wildlife Fund that could be used only for fish restoration and management projects. Turnbull said DPNR had no opportunity to review or participate in the process of drafting or amending the language of the measure.
– Provide cost-of-living subsidies to certain St. John residents. He said "substantive study or review of the impact and ramifications" is needed before such a course of action is considered.
– Create a Department of Youth Affairs, Sports and Recreation which would consolidate certain activities now under various agencies. He noted that he had earlier proposed a similar department, but said his proposal was to reduce government bureaucracy and expenditures, not expand them.
– Make changes in private sector regulation that he said would have the effect of "raising the cost of development, a cost which is ultimately passed on to the consumer."
– Impose a statutory limit regarding the removal of abandoned vehicles. He said the Legislature "should not micro-manage" such activities.
– Grant non-profit status and, thereby, tax exemption to the V.I. Carnival Committee. Such status, if appropriate, should be sought through standard local and federal channels, he said.
– Appropriate Casino Revenue Fund money for youth programs.
– Appropriate property tax revenues that have already been ot
herwise committed and have not yet been received.
– Appropriate funds from the so-called Second Extension Agreement with Hovensa and from proceeds of lottery and casino gaming that are already committed.
Omnibus items approved
The Omnibus Act as approved by the governor includes the following appropriations:
– $1.5 million for start-up of the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park on St. Croix.
– $1.5 million for Public Works to initiate house-to-house garbage collection on St. Thomas and St. John.
– $1 million for Luis Hospital for medicines.
– $900,000 for Fire Services to add personnel and construct St. Thomas fire stations downtown and in Bordeaux.
– $500,000 for WAPA to carry out street lighting maintenance.
– $400,000 for the Myrah Keating Community Health Center to complete its hemodialysis unit.
– $250,000 for Women's Resource Center for salaries and operations.
– $175,000 for the hiring of four Emergency Medical Technicians on St. John.
Turnbull chided the Senate for its failure to approve a "$10 million technical amendment" to the executive budget that he submitted in June to fund an interim solution to St. Croix's solid waste disposal, given federal orders to close down the Anguilla landfill by the end of the year. He said the measure included "a $1.6 million stipulated fine payment" to the Environmental Protection Agency "in lieu of a $25 million fine."
He made a point of saying he had approved a section of the Omnibus bill that restricts the use of binding arbitration in resolving labor-management disputes. The measure effectively outlaws any requirement on the part of employers that new hires, as a condition of employment, agree to have disputes resolved by arbitration. Hovensa and one of its contractors have such policies in place.
In other Hovensa-related action, Turnbull said he wanted "to acknowledge receipt" of Bill No. 24-0304, a resolution petitioning him to appoint a task force "to investigate employment concerns at Hovensa." While not indicating his response to the request, he noted that the local business sector "is currently undergoing various hardships resulting from numerous causes." He said government must maintain "a delicate balance … to ensure that the business sector receives fair treatment and likewise that employees are fairly treated."
In pointing out his approval of a section granting WAPA a $500,000 subsidy for street light maintenance, the governor inexplicably he added: "Taken with the surcharge recently approved" by the Public Services Commission, the subsidy would help ensure that "more of our neighborhoods will be lighted in the near future." WAPA has requested such a surcharge, but the PSC has yet to act on the request.
St. John, St. Croix rezoning
The governor also approved seven rezoning bills:
No. 24-0296 – Parcel No. 1-Kc, Estate Bethany No. 6, Cruz Bay Quarter, St. John, from R-2 to R-3.
No. 24-0297 – Parcel No. 5g, Remainder Estate Pastory No. 5, Cruz Bay Quarter, St. John, from R-2 to R-3.
No. 24-0298 – Parcel No. 14-3, Estate Carolina No. 1, Coral Bay Quarter, St. John, from R-2 to B-3 and for other purposes.
No. 24-0299 – Plot No. 9, North Street, Christiansted, St. Croix, from R-3 to B-3.
No. 24-0300 – Plot No. 43, Estate Contentment, Company Quarter, St. Croix, from R-1 to B-3.
No. 24-0301 – Plot No. 40MCA, Estate La Grange, West End Quarter, St. Croix, from R-1 to B-3.
No. 24-0302 – Plot No. 236, Estate Glynn, King's Quarter, St. Croix, from R-1 to B-3.
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