Three smaller government agencies – the Law Enforcement Planning Commission, Bureau of Economic Research and Office of Veterans Affairs – went before the Senate Finance Committee Friday to discuss their fiscal year 2013 budget requests.
LEPC Director Victor Brown presented his agency's General Fund budget request for $572,000, a roughly 10 percent reduction from last year's levels. Personnel costs account for $433,000 or about 75 percent of the total, with $315,000 for wages and salaries, and $117,000 for benefits. Some $74,000 or 13 percent is slated for rent and $66,000 or 12 percent for utility bills.
Of the commission's 11 employees, seven are covered under the General Fund and four are to be paid out of roughly $264,000 in federal grant funding.
LEPC serves as the state administering agency for federal grant purposes and oversees a string of federal grants devoted to juvenile justice, substance abuse, violence against women, and similar subjects.
The committee also heard testimony from Veterans Affairs Office Assistant Director Harry Daniels who requested a 2013 General Fund appropriation of $371,000 – some $30,000 more than the Office of Management and Budget's recommended ceiling of $341,000.
The recommended $341,000 includes $242,000 for wages and salaries and $98,000 in benefits for the agency's six employees. OMB projects another $165,000 in other local funds from the V.I. Lottery and the Division of Licensing and Consumer Affairs for a total operating budget of $506,000.
Like every year, the government is appropriating another $400,000 for medical travel and burial expenses. This funding is not part of Veterans Affairs' operating budget.
Bureau of Economic Research Director Wharton Burger presented the BER's budget request of $741,000, with $591,000 from the General Fund and $150,000 from the Tourism Revolving Fund. The Tourism Revolving Fund is replenished by the territory's 8 percent hotel room occupancy tax. Of that total, $372,000 is dedicated to wages and salaries; $139,000 to benefits, $266,000 to the catch-all category of "other services," and $14,000 is set aside for supplies.
The BER collects and compiles economic data such as territorial gross domestic product, the consumer price index and other data, to help the government form policies based upon accurate information.
No votes were taken at the information-gathering hearing.