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IRB Makes Pitch for Funding New Building

Oct. 19, 2005 – Constructing a new office complex for the Internal Revenue Bureau would cost approximately $20 million, IRB Director Louis M. Willis told the Public Finance Authority board Wednesday.
Willis was campaigning for funding for the project from the PFA, telling board members the building is much needed and well worth the investment. The bureau's current building next to Mandela Circle on St. Thomas is in poor condition, Willis said.
"It has no emergency exits; the water seeps in on the bottom level when it rains; and the bottom floor of the building is underground," Willis said.
The new complex, which would be called the Charles W. Turnbull Government Facility, would solve these problems, giving the bureau 65,000 square feet of office space in the Crown Bay area. Willis said IRB plans to lease the property from the V.I. Port Authority, which has already given its approval for the project.
Willis told PFA board members a request to rezone the property from waterfront industrial (W-2) to business-secondary/neighborhood (B-2), has already been approved by the Senate. However, although the request was presented before the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday evening, it was not approved. (See "Residents Resist Zoning Requests"). The request cannot be approved by the Legislature until it has been offered by a senator as a bill that can be voted upon.
The Office of Management and Budget, which would also be housed in the building, would have approximately 13,000 square feet.
Trying to sell the project to the PFA board, Willis gave a presentation that showed the bureau's rate of collections over the past few years. For fiscal year 2005, Willis claimed bureau collections topped $661.5 million — $332 million more than was collected in 1997.
In gross receipts taxes, Willis said the bureau collected $125.5 million for 2005, with $87 million of that going to the General Fund.
"It just shows how much the economy has turned around under the Turnbull administration," Willis said to Turnbull, chairman of the PFA board.

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