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HomeNewsArchivesWAPA BOARD PROBES UNAUTHORIZED LAND PURCHASE

WAPA BOARD PROBES UNAUTHORIZED LAND PURCHASE

Oct. 31, 2002 – The Water and Power Authority board met Thursday to discuss concerns over some $2.2 million used without its approval to buy land on St. Croix two years ago.
Carol Burke, board chair, said the property, adjacent to the Richmond power plant and commonly referred to as Devcon, was purchased from V.I.Cement and Building Products Inc. because it was suitable for plant expansion and the improvement of office facilities and security.
WAPA intended to relocate its garage and warehouse, currently housed in rented space, to the Devcon site. The problem is that authority administrators went ahead with the purchase before consulting the governing board.
The report of an internal audit investigation into the matter was given while the board was in executive session. What the board did, Burke said afterward, was hear from individual WAPA employees "who should've been involved, by nature of their job, in the transaction."
While the administrators' intentions were justified, she said, "the manner in which they carried it out, obligating the authority to $2.2 million without certain controls in place," was not.
She said the results of the internal audit report will be made public at the board's next meeting, set for Nov. 21.
Board member Andrew Rutnik, who also is commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, called the land purchase "very interesting" and said that additional actions out of step with board policy appear to have transpired.
He mentioned environmental liability concerns and WAPA's leasing out of some parts of the property for as little as $10 per year.
Burke also said the board did not discuss utility rate matters and that all current rates will remain in place for the time being.

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