Feb. 22, 2006 — The Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment Tuesday night adding a $2 million appropriation for the Waste Management Authority to the $57.2 million supplemental budget bill, bringing the total amount of the bill up to $59.2 million.
During Tuesday's meeting, many senators said WMA officials had sent them a letter stating that the authority's $3 million supplemental budget request was cut from the bill because projected revenue figures for FY 2006 were lower than anticipated. "This is not right," Sen. Neville James said. "We have to make sure they get the funding they need in order to perform their day-to-day operations. In the letter, the WMA said they would not be able to treat the sewage properly if they didn't get this money, and [not] having sewage in the streets should be a priority for this government."
Nathan Simmonds, head of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's financial team, said earlier in the meeting that when cuts were made to the supplemental budget, requests from different departments and agencies had to be re-prioritized. Simmonds also said the WMA would be able to receive an additional appropriation when funds currently being withheld by the federal government were released.
However, senators pointed out that the government would not receive the federal funding until a third-party fiduciary agreement for the V.I. Education Department was in place.
The amendment also cut the $4 million supplemental budget request submitted by the Public Works Department in half, leaving $2 million dollars for territorywide road repairs, while freeing up $2 million for various projects not included in the original bill. These include:
–$250,000 to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority for the installation of street lights on the South Shore road on St. Croix, from Estate Humberg to the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino.
–$150,000 to the Car Racing Association of St. Croix for the upgrade of its track facility at Estate Anguilla.
–$25,000 to the Legislature to rent office space for a legislative annex in Christiansted.
–$75,000 to the Caribbean Friendship Committee for the promotion, advertisement, and sponsorship of Caribbean Friendship Week celebrations.
–$150,000 to the Police Department to purchase the building it currently rents in Fredericksted.
–$400,000 to the Legislature for computer-assisted legal research and the upgrade of the Legal Counsel's office.
–$100,000 to the Justice Department for security enhancements at the Bureau of Corrections.
–$200,000 to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources for renovations and repairs to the Frenchtown pier.
–$300,000 to the Education Department for the resurfacing and repair of the track at the St. Croix Educational Complex.
–$18,000 to Education for the refurbishment of the playground at Guy Benjamin School on St. John.
–$45,000 to the Tourism Department via the Virgin Islands Cultural Institute to fund cultural outreach programs from the Virgin Islands to other Caribbean islands.
–$150,000 for the Veterans Memorial Complex on St. Croix for administrative purposes.
Money for the appropriations will come from the General Fund and will be available until spent.
Voting in favor of the amendment on Tuesday were Sens. Roosevelt C. David, Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, and James.
Sen. Usie R. Richards abstained from voting, and Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste was absent.
Senators also unanimously approved another amendment to the bill which redistributes $400,000 from the Department of Human Services $5.25 million supplemental budget request. The money will go toward funding travel expenses for local veterans who have to travel off-island for medical care.
Present at Tuesday's meeting were Sens. Craig W. Barshinger, David, Liston Davis, Encarnacion, Figueroa-Serville, Hill, James, Richards, Ronald E. Russell, and Celestino A. White Sr. Jn Baptiste was absent.
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