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April 1, 2004 – Today, Senator Shawn-Michael Malone wrote the Inspector General to request an immediate audit investigation of the Anti-Litter & Beautification Fund (ABF).
"My office has been inundated with calls from concerned citizens regarding this matter and everyone wants to know how this large overdraft of the ABF occurred," wrote Senator Malone.
As Chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, Senator Malone requested from the Legislatures Post Auditor, Ms. Anneta Heyliger, and a report of all appropriations made and over-ridden from the Anti-Litter & Beautification Fund and the purpose of the appropriations during the 24th and 25th Legislatures.
"Based on the report provided, only one appropriation was vetoed and all others were signed into law. Yet in this report, I have not seen any evidence of some of the appropriations reported in the Virgin Islands Daily News or the St. Croix Avis, such as the money to hire Firefighters or the money used to pay for a party for Julian Jackson," Senator Malone wrote.
Today, to further investigate from where the appropriations to hire firefighters and pay for a party for former boxing champion, Julian Jackson for expenditures came, Senator Malone requested another report from the Legislatures Post Auditor going back to the 23rd Legislature. Some of the expenditures outlined by the Finance Commissioner that were reported in the V.I. Daily News may be found in the appropriations passed by the 23rd Legislature.
"There is a perception in the community that the Legislature arbitrarily over-appropriated the fund for numerous activities not germane to its intended purpose. While the Legislature appropriates, it has no control over what is allotted. To this date, I have been unable to ascertain what really occurred with this fund. I have stated numerous times on the Legislative Record that financial management is at the crux of the ailing foundation of our governments inability to properly account for revenues and expenditures in an accurate manner. This most recent revelation further validates this fact," Senator Malone further wrote.
"A devastating possibility arising out of this situation is that the Anti Litter and Beautification Commission may not be able to conduct their annual Clean and Preen Summer Youth Program, as well as other vital programs such as the island wide cleanups, the abandoned vehicle task force, and recycling programs," Senator Malone said. "Many children and parents alike have come to depend on the Summer Clean and Preen Program is a viable means of earning income while engaging in constructive activity during their summer vacation," Senator Malone also wrote.
The Senator has also written to the Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Senator Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Jr., to convene a hearing at the next available date to further investigate this issue. In the correspondence to Senator Donastorg, Senator Malone pointed out another long-standing issue with respect to the governments finances. "The Senates lack of access to updated fund balances," wrote Senator Malone, "leaves Legislators handicapped in making accurate financial decisions, especially the preparation of our governments annual budget."
"It is these types of issues that serve as a catalyst for initiatives such as a chief financial officer proposed by the Delegate to Congress and the creation of a Financial Review Board proposed by some of my colleagues," Senator Malone concluded.