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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Group Favors Municipal Government

Introduction:
Virgin Islanders for A Better Community Corporation (VI-ABC) proposes a bill to establish municipal government in the Virgin Islands. The VI-ABC municipal government plan places agencies within two levels of government; state/territorial, and county/district. Moreover, each level of government will be accountable for its budget allotment. Consequently, government budgeting, financing, taxation, accounting, and departmental duties and responsibilities are more clearly defined. At the territorial level, the executive and legislative branches will retain state level functions but relinquish county and district level duties and responsibilities. According to the plan, the municipal house of representatives, a body of all the elected councilpersons and mayors, has jurisdiction over territorial operational issues. In this system, each mayor is responsible for individual county operations and chairs that county’s council. Similarly, each council person has jurisdiction over individual district issues. In sum, the Virgin Islands would have two counties with one mayor each, and each county would have an eastern and western district with one elected councilperson for each district. St. Thomas, St. John, and Water Island, would comprise a county, and St. Croix would comprise another county. In addition, each district would have a city manager and each county a county manager.
Municipal government is the level of government that facilitates district representation and manages local government affairs. Currently, the Virgin Islands government operates without the benefit of city and county level administration. The benefits of municipal government are as follows.
Residents have councilpersons and mayors to address their district issues.
Elected officials are advised by city managers that are professional policy analysts.
Better public policies will result from decisions based on scientific analysis of issues.
Division of labor will establish accountability in the provision of government service.
Efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness will be achieved via a proven model of government.
Accountability for government spending is realized through systemic allocation of funds.
A practical system for the redistribution of revenues will produce better budget and tax practices.
District representation optimizes the allocation, management and provision of government resources and services.
Reorganization of the V.I. Government
Reduction of the V.I. Legislature:
The number of Virgin Islands Legislators would be reduced from 15 to 7 senators. The redistribution of senators would be 1 from St. John, 3 from St. Thomas, and 3 from St. Croix. This redistribution of elected officials would make political representation a reality by replacing the 8 Legislators with 6 district level representatives. Consequently, each constituent would have a district, county, and territorial representatives.
Legislature:
1 St. John Senator
3 St. Croix Senators
3 St. Thomas Senators
State Level Responsibilities:
Executive Branch – initiatives directed to department heads of state/territorial agencies
Judicial Branch – same local and federal jurisdictions
Legislative Branch – jurisdiction includes fed. mandates, laws, territorial budget and taxation
* Territorial agencies are Department of Finance, Education, Health, Tourism, etc.

Municipal Government

County Council:
Each municipal council comprises of 1 county mayor, and 2 city council members. The scope of authority of the municipal government is to manage the allocation of district services, and the reallocation of tax benefits and revenues. The council will follow parliamentary procedure to make infrastructure, budget, and allocation decisions based on scientific analysis and recommendations from the managers. The city and county managers must be qualified public administration professionals.
St. Thomas/St. John County Council
1 Mayor
1 Eastern district council member
1 Western district council member
St. Croix County Council
1 Mayor
1 Eastern district council member
1 Western district council member
Municipal Level Responsibilities:
Mayor – responsible for issues affecting the county
Council members – responsible for issues concerning individual districts
County manager – reports to mayor
City managers – report to council persons
* Municipal agencies are VI Police, Fire, Public Works, and School Board
<>center>Municipal House of Representatives
Municipal House of Representatives:
The Virgin Islands Municipal Government House of Representatives is a body that facilitates intergovernmental relations for territorial municipal issues. It is made up of 2 county mayors and 4 council members. The lieutenant governor will be the chairperson of the House but will have only the tie-breaking vote on deadlock issues. The mayors will be vice chairpersons and alternately chair House meetings in the absence of the chairperson. The mayors and councilpersons will be chairpersons for subcommittees. The scope of authority includes municipal budget allocations, and capital improvements.
St. Thomas/St. John County Council
1 County mayor
1 Eastern district council member
1 Western district council member
Lt. Governor, HOR Chairperson
St. Croix County Council
1 County mayor
1 Eastern district council member
1 Western district council member
Conclusion:
This municipal structure establishes a system of government that promotes efficient and effective management of government resources and services. The Virgin Islands has never organized an efficient and effective system of government. In the absence of a real government, it has muddled through years of political cronyism and mismanagement. This municipal structure removes politics from the management level of government and establishes division of labor among the layers to create accountability and responsiveness in government operations. In light of the current and projected economic, political, and social issues, municipal government is the panacea for the Virgin Islands.
VI-ABC has members available to speak to public and private organizations and individuals about this municipal government plan. The organization plans to have a public education campaign in effect for one year. After the public information initiative, VI-ABC will seek enabling legislation and subsequently implementation of this municipal government plan. For further information or to schedule a meeting with VI-ABC representatives, please write to VI-ABC at PO Box 10424 St. Thomas, VI 00801.

Editor's note: The mission of VI-ABC, according to the president of the organization, Dale Francis, is to improve the community by advocating good public policy, decision making, and good urban and rural management. VI-ABC also advocates cultural enrichment through initiatives that strengthen the fabric of the society, and preserve the Virgin Islands culture.

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