74.2 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesNewly Independent Motor Vehicle Bureau Making Vast Improvements

Newly Independent Motor Vehicle Bureau Making Vast Improvements

Aug. 4, 2006–Despite a budget cut of nearly $300,000, the Motor Vehicle Bureau will "definitely" be able to sustain itself during fiscal year 2007, according to MVB Director Jerris T. Browne.
During the first round of budget hearings Friday, Browne said the agency was appropriated approximately $3.75 million for FY 2006. For part of the fiscal year, the agency was still located under the Police Department and received $1.3 million through the Personalized License Plate Fund, along with nearly $386,000 from VIPD and a special appropriation of $1 million from the Legislature.
Once the agency was severed from the Police Department, it also received $1 million from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Fund, created last year by the Senate, which gives MVB 10 percent of fees collected–or an annual appropriation of $1 million, whichever is greater–for operational expenses. Consequently, the bureau received, overall, approximately $3.7 million for FY 2006.
Browne said to date, MVB has spent $1.7 million out of the funds allotted and is expected to spent another $1.3 million by the end of FY 2006, leaving a balance of some $675,000–of which nearly $483,000 will be reprogrammed. General Fund money totaling some $56,000 will be returned to the Police Department, he added.
For FY 2007, MVB initially requested $1.5 million from the General Fund, along with a $678,000 supplemental budget. However, Browne told senators that the agency's recommended budget for this year is approximately $1.9 million from the General Fund, along with $1 million from the Transportation Trust Fund and $509,600 in non-appropriated funds, for an overall operating budget of $3.47 million.
Of that amount, approximately $2.1 million is line-itemed for personnel and fringe benefit costs (covering 44 filled positions and 11 vacant positions), along with $849,000 for capital outlays, supplies, professional services contracts and utilities, among other things.
In response to questions from senators about the number of vacant positions within the agency, Browne said he would be working to fill the slots by the end of 2006, or during the next fiscal year.
However, he did not explain what the remaining $509,000 (coming from non-appropriated funds) would be used for.
While senators had few questions for MVB representatives about the proposed budget, they did ask how the agency has been functioning since it was severed last year from the Police Department.
"This move has allowed us to drastically improve our service and performance," Browne responded. "We are no longer competing with the Police Department for funding, and we have been able to restructure the organization. Before, we had to work through the bureaucracy; now it's different. Under the previous structure, for example, we had no supervisors–just managers–and we never before had our own technicians. With the current structure, we have been able to bring in those personnel, which has allowed us to be more modern and efficient."
Senators said they have noticed a marked improvement in the services provided by MVB, including a reduction in long lines and waiting times.
Browne said the bureau would be making additional improvements over the next two months with the implementation of a new system that would allow residents to complete various processes–including vehicle registration–online.
MVB Assistant Director Lawrence Olive said the agency is also working on expanding its facilities on St. Thomas and St. John. "We're talking to Property and Procurement about getting land on the East End of St. Thomas," he said. "While we're still going to keep our current facility, we've also discovered that a majority of residents and car dealerships are located on the East End. By putting a facility there, we will be able to cater to those people and reduce the amount of traffic coming into town."
Olive said the bureau is also looking at finding a site outside of Cruz Bay on St. John. "It's all in the process. We're continuing to work on making these things a reality," he added.
Browne also said MVB has located 10 acres of land to build a new complex on St. Croix. "The bureau has secured the necessary funding to start the initial preparation phase of the project, and we are well on the way to achieving this goal," he said.
Browne also requested that senators amend the law severing the bureau from the Police Department to allow certain powers–including the ability to increase fees–to be transferred to the MVB director. He also asked that the law be amended to allow the agency to hire peace officers to enforce various federal and local laws.
Present during Friday's meeting were Sens. Lorraine L. Berry, Roosevelt C. David, Liston Davis, Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, Norman Jn Baptiste and Usie R. Richards.
Sen. Neville James was absent.
Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.