The V.I. government caught up with its audited financial reports this year, thanks not only to this administration, but to the digital financial system that went online in 2006, Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson said during budget hearings Monday.
On June 30 government contractor Ernst and Young issued the 2012-13 audited financial statements and annual Report on Federal Financial Assistance Programs, bringing the territory in full compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget regulations, for the first time in memory. Dawson cited coming into compliance with the federal audit requirements during his nomination hearing in 2009, he recalled for the committee Monday.
"To achieve this goal I spearheaded efforts that, over the past five years, have resulted in seven single audits of the Virgin Islands government being issued by the independent auditing firm Ernst and Young," he said. While staff worked "double time" to catch up on audits, "timely financial statement preparation and audit issuance is an outcome of the V.I. government’s Munis (Enterprise Resource Planning) system," which went live in 2006, he said.
"The ERP has reduced paperwork and streamlined processes from the transactional level to the production of financial statements – the final product of a properly functioning financial management system," he said.
Dawson presented and discussed the Finance Department’s recommended Fiscal Year 2015 General Fund budget of $5.29 million. That is an increase of 4.9 percent from last year, but a decrease of 31 percent since 2010, Dawson said.
Senators inquired about changes in budget appropriations, including increases in personnel costs and energy saving efforts to reduce utility costs. Dawson shared that the department was able to significantly reduce utility costs by almost $200,000 with the implementation of sensor lighting, automated flushing in bathrooms and timed air conditioned systems.
Finance’s FY15 budget includes $706,000 from the Government Insurance Fund and $420,000 from the Indirect Cost Fund for total appropriated funds of $6.4 million. Of that, $2.38 million is for wages and salaries for 48 positions. Fringe benefits, Medicare and Social Security taxes for those employees account for another $880,000.
Utilities are budgeted at $750,000; "other services and charges" for security guards, professional service, travel, repairs and other costs come in at $990,000; and supplies are $226,000.
Committee members present included Sens. Judi Buckley, Donald Cole, Myron Jackson, Terrence “Positive” Nelson, Nereida “Nellie” Rivera-O’Reilly and Clarence Payne. Noncommittee members Sens. Kenneth Gittens and Tregenza Roach were also present.