Dec. 13, 2003 – Delegate Donna M. Christensen has announced the first round of what she says will be a series of town meetings on her bill before Congress to establish a chief financial officer and set up a financial management system for the territory.
The scheduled meetings, according to a release distributed on Friday from the delegate's office, are as follows:
St. Croix: 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Curriculum Center.
St. Thomas: 6 p.m. Thursday in the conference room of the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel.
St. John: 10 a.m. Saturday in the conference room of the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay.
Those wishing to register in advance to testify at a meeting can do so by calling any of the delegate's local offices — 778-5900 on St. Croix, 774-4408 on St. Thomas or 776-1212 on St. John.
Christensen introduced legislation in Congress on Nov. 21 both to create a position of CFO to control the V.I. government's purse strings for five years and to establish an integrated financial management system to keep track permanently of the territory's fiscal affairs. (See "Federal OK sought for CFO, financial system".)
The proposal was immediately met with harsh criticism from the Turnbull administration and a number of local lawmakers. Among the critics was Sen. Lorraine Berry, who had called last spring for a financial control board to oversee the territory's fiscal affairs but recently conceded she had been unable to muster support for the measure from her fellow majority-bloc senators.
At a hastily called press conference Nov. 24 on St. Croix, Christensen said she had known that her bill would spark a hailstorm of controversy but that she could not "in good conscience" allow fiscal irresponsibility to continue "and see the government collapse." (See "Delegate says fiscal reality behind her CFO bill".)
The bill directs the governor to appoint the chief financial officer, who would assume the responsibilities of the director of the Office of Management and Budget for five years, while the OMB director functioned as deputy CFO.
However, the governor would have to choose among three candidates, all certified public accountants with government experience, submitted by a search commission that would be chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and otherwise consist of individuals appointed by the governor, Legislature, Territorial Court, Central Labor Council, both Chambers of Commerce (jointly), the University of the Virgin Islands president and the at-large senator (to name a St. John resident).
The bill in its entirety can be accessed online at the federal government's Thomas legislation-tracking Web site. Print copies are available at the delegate's offices and will be available as of Monday at the public libraries on St. Croix and St. Thomas, according to the release.
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