Oct. 12, 2005 — Calling it one of the best fiscal year budgets of the last decade, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed into law Wednesday the bulk of the 2006 budget, passed by the Senate last month.
Turnbull took no action on the Legislature's $17.9 million budget, nor on the voluminous Omnibus Bill which appropriates approximately $59.5 million to various government departments and agencies out of an excess $60 million recently found in the government coffers. In his transmittal letter to Senate President Lorraine L. Berry, Turnbull makes no mention of either one.
The appropriations he approved amount to $596 million, which is expected to rise once the Legislature and the Omnibus Bill are included.
The bills, which primarily make deposits into the General Fund from various other government funds, were approved by the Legislature in late September, despite the concerns of minority senators who said the bills show no change from Turnbull's original budget proposal.
The minority senators also said the majority made most of the decisions when it came to changing appropriation figures in the rest of the budgetwhich distributes $587 million from the General Fund to various government departments and agencies.
One such majority change is a $16.2 million appropriation from the General Fund to the V.I. Waste Management Authority — a figure which has been contested by May Adams Cornwall, VIWMA executive director. After the appropriation was approved by senators in September, Adams-Cornwall said the $16.2 million is a substantial cut from the authority's original $32 million budget request. (See "WMA Director Says Senate Mistake Is Devastating").
A $1.5 million cut made in the budget to the Office of the Lt. Gov. was also contested — this time by Turnbull, who said such a cut would hinder the operations of the office.
Turnbull also approved "with reservations" a $4.8 million appropriation for the upgrade of the government's financial management system and a bill that establishes the Motor Vehicle Bureau as an agency separate from the Police Department.
Turnbull vetoed a bill to increase the minimum wage by $1 by Jan. 2007. He said the bill had too many "technical errors and ambiguous language." Turnbull asked that senators work on the bill and resubmit it for approval.
Turnbull also vetoed a bill would force the Water and Power Authority to waive the security deposit for new and transferred meter service for customers who pass a credit check conducted by the utility. The bill, approved by senators in September, also states customers who do not pass the credit check, which costs $20 that is passed on to the customer, have to pay the current security deposit, which is equal to two months of service. Turnbull said he vetoed the bill because he is "opposed to charging $20 for a credit report for such a basic need as electricity."
Other appropriations approved in the executive budget are:
–To appropriate monies from the Antilitter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30,2006, and for other purposes.
–To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund.
–To provide an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To appropriate funds from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Finance and the Department of Labor for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To provide for a lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To provide for a lump-sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and for other purposes, for the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement and the Department of Finance for: the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To appropriate $3,500,000 from the interest earned on debt services reserves as a contribution to the General Fund.
–Bill No, 26-0103 – To provide appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the fiscal year ending Sept.30, 2006.
–To provide for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To appropriate funds to the Public Services Commission for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006 for operating expenses.
–To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewer Waste Water Fund for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To provide for an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, the Department of Housing,, Parks and Recreation and the Department of Public Works during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To appropriate $13 million from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund.
–To provide a contribution from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees Increment Fund to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To appropriate monies for salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006 and for other purposes.
–To appropriate the sum of $4.6 million from the General Fund to WTJX Public Television System for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To appropriate funds to the Taxicab Division of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006 for operating expenses.
–To provide for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2006.
–To amend title 2 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 2, section 28, subsection (e), relating to the amount of prior year's obligations.
–To amend title 20 Virgin Islands Code, section 408, subsection (d), as it relates to taxi medallion auction for veterans, and for other related purposes.
–To appropriate the sum of $4.8 million from the General Fund to the Department of Finance for the Financial Management System upgrade and for personnel and related costs.
–To amend Act No, 6134 as it relates to the Castle Burke community.
–To provide appropriations for salaries and operating expenses of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands and the Judicial Council for the Fiscal Year October 1,2005, to September 30,2006, and for other purposes.
–To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Territorial Public Defender during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2005, to September 30, 2006, and for other purposes.
–To approve the amendment to the Renewal of the Metlife Agreement for Group Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance.
Also approved by Turnbull were resolutions to honor and commend Col. Gerald Luz A. James, and the Caribbean Amateur Boxing Association for their work.
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