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HomeNewsArchivesUPBEAT TURNBULL CITES SUCCESSES IN ADDRESS

UPBEAT TURNBULL CITES SUCCESSES IN ADDRESS

Compared to the previous two years, it was a much less dour Gov. Charles W. Turnbull who delivered his third State of the Territory address Monday night to assembled lawmakers, cabinet members, judges and other notables at the Earle B. Ottley Legislature Building. In one area after another the governor enumerated—sometimes with hard numbers—his administration's successes in improving the fiscal state of the territory over the last two years.
Among his accomplishments, Turnbull cited reducing executive branch employment from 12,000 workers to 10,200—"giving us the smallest government workforce in nearly 20 years," at an overall savings of $33 million. He also said the overtime paid from all funds in fiscal year 2000 was $5.2 million, down from $20 million paid in 1999.
At the revenue end, Turnbull reported the Virgin Islands received $75 million in rum taxes in 2000, which he said was an increase of 60 percent compared to when he took office two years ago. He added, however, it was imperative to persuade Congress to renew the new rum tax formula, of $13.25 per proof gallon, up from the previous rate of $10.50, which expires at the end of 2001.
Proceeding methodically through a speech that took almost an hour-and-a-half, Turnbull addressed a broad spectrum of fiscal, political and social concerns.
Among the surprises was his declared intent to purchase the Homer Wheaton estate on St. Thomas, the site of Drake's Seat and the ongoing controversy concerning vendors there. He didn't say, however, where the millions of dollars that would be needed to buy the property would come from. Later, Government House spokesman James O'Bryan said the governor was in negotiations and had so far identified about $250,000 toward the purchase.
In another surprise, Turnbull said he would be sending legislation to establish a Waste Management Authority. The authority would be an independent body with assured revenue sources and enforcement powers, charged with handling the disposal of the territory's solid waste and wastewater.
Other successful cost saving and revenue enhancing measures cited were:
– The suspension of the debt service payments to the Federal Emergency Management Agency resulting in a $20 million savings;
– Reduction in government leases, at a savings of a little over $1 million;
– A $40 million increase in revenues collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue over the previous year;
– An increase of $7 million in real property tax collection;
– A $2.5 million increase in Coastal Zone Management collections.
He also cited a 25 percent increase in visitors to the territory in 2000 and an overall 15 percent reduction in crime.
Continuing the upbeat tone, Turnbull projected further loan forgiveness as well as debt reduction he expected to receive from the federal government, including the $9.7 million debt for housing local prisoners in federal prisons.
He went on to describe a Virgin Islands infused by new businesses from the financial, technological and electronic-commerce areas, saying, "I pledge to work with the private sector to create 1,500 new jobs … within the next two years, with a particular focus on St. Croix."
In general, listeners described Turnbull's address as encouraging and hopeful, though Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste called it a "carefully crafted" speech designed to "set the residents' minds at ease."
Sen. Lorraine L. Berry said it was good to see the governor "put into place many of the policies we passed" in the 23rd Legislature.
According to freshman Sen. Emmett Hansen II, it was a "solid accounting of moving out of the fiscal morass."
Delegate Donna Christian Christensen said, "I think the governor had to take this time to outline the accomplishments."
Of the outstanding bills still sitting on the governor's desk, including the Omnibus Act of 2001, O'Bryan said the governor was working on them, but no legislation had been cleared this week.
Government House announced earlier this week the full text of the State of the Territory Address would be available after the speech at the government Web site at www.usvi.gov.

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Compared to the previous two years, it was a much less dour Gov. Charles W. Turnbull who delivered his third State of the Territory address Monday night to assembled lawmakers, cabinet members, judges and other notables at the Earle B. Ottley Legislature Building. In one area after another the governor enumerated—sometimes with hard numbers—his administration's successes in improving the fiscal state of the territory over the last two years.
Among his accomplishments, Turnbull cited reducing executive branch employment from 12,000 workers to 10,200—"giving us the smallest government workforce in nearly 20 years," at an overall savings of $33 million. He also said the overtime paid from all funds in fiscal year 2000 was $5.2 million, down from $20 million paid in 1999.
At the revenue end, Turnbull reported the Virgin Islands received $75 million in rum taxes in 2000, which he said was an increase of 60 percent compared to when he took office two years ago. He added, however, it was imperative to persuade Congress to renew the new rum tax formula, of $13.25 per proof gallon, up from the previous rate of $10.50, which expires at the end of 2001.
Proceeding methodically through a speech that took almost an hour-and-a-half, Turnbull addressed a broad spectrum of fiscal, political and social concerns.
Among the surprises was his declared intent to purchase the Homer Wheaton estate on St. Thomas, the site of Drake's Seat and the ongoing controversy concerning vendors there. He didn't say, however, where the millions of dollars that would be needed to buy the property would come from. Later, Government House spokesman James O'Bryan said the governor was in negotiations and had so far identified about $250,000 toward the purchase.
In another surprise, Turnbull said he would be sending legislation to establish a Waste Management Authority. The authority would be an independent body with assured revenue sources and enforcement powers, charged with handling the disposal of the territory's solid waste and wastewater.
Other successful cost saving and revenue enhancing measures cited were:
- The suspension of the debt service payments to the Federal Emergency Management Agency resulting in a $20 million savings;
- Reduction in government leases, at a savings of a little over $1 million;
- A $40 million increase in revenues collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue over the previous year;
- An increase of $7 million in real property tax collection;
- A $2.5 million increase in Coastal Zone Management collections.
He also cited a 25 percent increase in visitors to the territory in 2000 and an overall 15 percent reduction in crime.
Continuing the upbeat tone, Turnbull projected further loan forgiveness as well as debt reduction he expected to receive from the federal government, including the $9.7 million debt for housing local prisoners in federal prisons.
He went on to describe a Virgin Islands infused by new businesses from the financial, technological and electronic-commerce areas, saying, "I pledge to work with the private sector to create 1,500 new jobs ... within the next two years, with a particular focus on St. Croix."
In general, listeners described Turnbull's address as encouraging and hopeful, though Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste called it a "carefully crafted" speech designed to "set the residents' minds at ease."
Sen. Lorraine L. Berry said it was good to see the governor "put into place many of the policies we passed" in the 23rd Legislature.
According to freshman Sen. Emmett Hansen II, it was a "solid accounting of moving out of the fiscal morass."
Delegate Donna Christian Christensen said, "I think the governor had to take this time to outline the accomplishments."
Of the outstanding bills still sitting on the governor's desk, including the Omnibus Act of 2001, O'Bryan said the governor was working on them, but no legislation had been cleared this week.
Government House announced earlier this week the full text of the State of the Territory Address would be available after the speech at the government Web site at www.usvi.gov.