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Senators Put Hold on Paying Irregular Contracts

June 8, 2005 – The Finance Committee Tuesday held up bills that would have allowed some vendors to be paid even though their contracts had not followed proper procedures.
One of the outstanding accounts is with the Anne Carlsen Center for Children of North Dakota. Marc Biggs, Department of Property and Procurement director, Tuesday testified in favor of the bill, but he met with opposition as Senate members opted to keep the matter in committee for the next thirty days in order to conduct further investigation.
Biggs was seeking the ratification of contracts for special needs students Shakejah Smith and Fitzroy Joseph.
The students were returned to the Virgin Islands earlier this year. (See "Special Needs Care Ends, Government Isn't Paying "). Anne Carlsen filed suit against the Virgin Islands last summer after the government stopped paying the center.
However, as this and other contracts were presented to the Senate without the signature of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull—needed for re-validation—Finance members were hesitant to approve the measures.
"Before I vote on this, I want to see the governor's signature," said Senator Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, adding that the time elapsed between other attempts to execute the collection of this debt was significant, "what is the logic of sending this measure down without it?"
Senators were similarly dissatisfied with no show by the Department of Education, a key player in the case. "I am not voting for the approval of that bill until the parties responsible, particularly the Department of Education, present themselves," said Sen. Usie Richards. Sedonie Halbert, Department of Human Services commissioner, was on hand to testify in favor of the bill
Senators also held up bills that would have allowed payments to the following:
1) Professional Service Contract between V.I. Employee Benefit Consultants for consultation services rendered for the Government's Group Medical and Dental Insurance Plans in the amount of $73,789.75
2. Professional Service Contract with Aon Consulting, Inc. for consultation services rendered for the Government's Health Insurance Plans in the amount of $26,713.73.
Both of these contracts expired during processing and needed to be ratified by the Senate Finance Committee in order for the debts to be paid.
In addition, there were two requisitions addressed, determined by Biggs for "goods and services to the government that were provided in good faith." These included a requisition between Central Air on behalf of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the amount of $9,9960 for the emergency installation of a new air conditioning unit, and a requisitions between Delong Lithographics on behalf of the Department of Health in the amount of $11,246.00 for the design, layout, printing, and shipment of the V.I. Behavioral Risk Factor Reports.
Finance Committee members present on Tuesday were Sens. Terrence "Positive Nelson, Roosevelt C. David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Juan Figueroa-Serville, and Usie R. Richards. Sen. Neville James was absent.
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