The government will go to the market for about $37.5 million in new bonding to pay for new police cars, energy saving work in the public schools and outstanding Workers Compensation liabilities, if the Legislature passes two bills Gov. John deJongh Jr. unveiled Monday.
This funding is above and beyond $120 million in bond financing the Legislature previously approved, which deJongh and other administration officials have said they expect to close on late this month or early in September.
About $7.5 million of the new bond funding will go to complete retrofitting the territory's public schools to finish work to make them more energy efficient, deJongh said during a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon.
He said the costs incurred with the borrowing would be off-set through annual savings to the General Fund, guaranteed by the Energy Services Company performing the work. “Failure to produce the guaranteed level of savings will require the ESCO to compensate the government of the Virgin Islands for the amount of any shortfall,” deJongh said in a letter to Senate President Ronald Russell accompanying the legislation.
The retrofitting would ultimately more than pay for itself, deJongh said Monday afternoon, adding that it would "save $2.6 or $2.7 million over the next three years.”
Government House later issued a statement saying the energy savings would total "some $12 million over the next decade."
The work would complete a pilot project paid for by federal stimulus funds that has already implemented energy and water conservation measures in 11 schools, deJongh said.
Last October, the V.I. Energy Office, part of the Office of the Governor, completed the pilot energy savings project with $6.7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.
The pilot project used local suppliers and workers, was completed on time and on budget, and without any disruption at the schools, according to Government House.
If the new bond debt is forthcoming, the money will pay for installations at 23 Department of Education facilities and the territorial hospitals, DeJongh said.
"About $10 million will go for Workers Compensation," liabilities for claims and provider services, deJongh said.
“Without such amendments, we will be unable to pay our injured and incapacitated employees at their time of greatest need,” deJongh said in his letter to Russell.
Another $7 million would go for the purchase of additional police vehicles, deJongh said Monday.
The remaining $20.5 million in new bonding authority would go to pay for an array of ongoing, but underfunded capital projects, deJongh said.
The governor's proposed legislation would authorize the government to seek bonds secured either by Gross Receipts Taxes or by remitted rum excise tax Matching Fund revenues. Having that flexibility will help provide the broadest access to the bond markets, ensuring the lowest rates, he said.
Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls outlined the individual projects and their projected remaining costs, which are:
- $4.5 million for phase II and III of the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School track on St. Thomas;
- $1.5 million for the Charlotte Amalie High School track on St. Thomas;
- $2.2 million to complete the Education Complex track on St. Croix;
- $1.8 million to complete the Central High School track on St. Croix.
- $2 million for repairs to Fort Christian;
- $2 million to the Tutu Park library project;
- and $1.5 million for reconstruction of the Public Works garage in Sub Base, St. Thomas;
While taking questions, Smalls said the Christiansted Bypass should be completed and taking traffic by the end of November, but a firm completion date had not yet been set.
The governor has requested the measures be special ordered onto the agenda for legislative sessions scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday.