April 13, 2006 – "It's been a good day for the people of the territory," Sen. Ronald E. Russell said after the Rules and Judiciary Committee passed a $36 million supplemental budget bill Wednesday. The bill deals with appropriations left behind in Rules after an original supplemental budget bill submitted by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in February was slashed in half.
The other appropriations became part of a second supplemental budget bill, which was approved last month by the full Senate and signed into law by Turnbull in late March. Supplemental budget requests in the second bill – which totaled $49.6 million – included appropriations for the local Education and Health Departments (See "Senate Approves 'New' Appropriation Bill").
Senators have said in the past that they cut the appropriations because they wanted to "address the critical needs" of the territory without overappropriating. However, when combined, the two bills equal $85.6 million – almost $30 million more than what was included in Turnbull's original bill.
Senators have also questioned the authority given to the director of the Office of Management and Budget in deciding when to release money to various departments and agencies after funds have been appropriated by the Legislature.
Senators again voiced these concerns during Wednesday's meeting and gave OMB Director Ira Mills a list of agencies and organizations that have not yet been allotted funds which were appropriated in the miscellaneous section of the government's fiscal year 2006 budget.
When asked about this, Mills explained that many agencies, after being notified by OMB that the funding is available, have to send a request to Finance or a host department – through which the funds are channeled – to draw down the money. He said that, in many cases, this is not done and suggested that after appropriating money, senators should inform departments, agencies and organizations that funds are available.
In response to senators' questions about over-appropriating, Mills said that since an increase in revenues was anticipated, funding would be available to cover the supplemental budget appropriations. Mills said OMB would also check what departments and agencies have not released their funding.
Satisfied with Mills' answers, senators voted unanimously to approve the appropriations left behind in committee – and added new appropriations, which increased the total amount of the bill from $27.5 million to $36 million.
Appropriations included in the bill are:
–$2 million to the Waste Management Authority to fund operating and maintenance costs.
–$100,000 for the Personnel Division for additional personnel and the management of the Health Insurance program.
–$400,000 to the lieutenant governor's office to fund a new financial division.
–$6.2 million to the Health Department for outstanding prior year obligations.
–$2 million to Public Works for various road repairs.
–$500,000 to the Economic Development Authority for marketing purposes.
–$18.1 million in salary increases for various departments and agencies.
–$250,000 to the Water and Power Authority for the installation of streetlights on the South Shore Road on St. Croix.
–$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 Frederiksted.
–$400,000 to the Legislature for computer-assisted legal research and the upgrade of the Legal Counsel's office.
–$400,000 to the University of the Virgin Islands for educational programs in support of the Constitutional Convention.
–$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 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.
–$150,000 to Our Town Frederiksted for a workforce training center at 21A Hospital Street.
–$200,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of St. Croix for operations.
Amendments added to the bill Wednesday are:
–$100,000 to Kidscope Inc. as a grant for operational expenses.
–$110,000 to Public Works for an assessment of accessibility for the physically impaired at public buildings and facilities throughout the territory.
–$165,000 to the Virgin Islands University Sports Federation to send a delegation of athletes to participate in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Venezuela on May 26 to June 2, and the World University Baseball Championship Games in Havana, Cuba on Aug. 8 to 16.
–$25,000 to Public Works to repair and resurface the sidewalk from 2A-2C Commandant Gade to the traffic light in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
–$100,000 to the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix cricket associations to match donations from the private sector.
–$300,000 to Housing, Parks and Recreation to complete renovations to Roosevelt Park in St. Thomas.
–$25,000 to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources for hazard mitigation control measures at Hull Bay Beach on St. Thomas.
–$20,000 to UVI to update an economic analysis of the territorial park at Salt River.
–$5,000 to Public Works to construct and erect a sign bearing the inscription, "The Joseph Sibilly Circle."
–$1.5 million to the Government Employees Retirement System for annuity increases for government workers who retired before 1990.
–$1.5 million to GERS for annuity increases for government workers who retired on or after 1990.
–$20,000 to the Tourism Department for the St. Croix Majorettes.
–$15,000 to the Tourism Department for the Special Olympics on St. Croix.
–$5,000 to the Education Department for the Alexander Henderson School Patrol Program.
–$30,000 to Housing, Parks and Recreation for recreational furnishings and Skills stipends for D.C. Canegata Ballpark's recreational building.
–$10,000 to Housing, Parks and Recreation for Men of Honor Inc.'s summer camp program on St. Croix.
–$1,351 to Housing, Parks and Recreation for Positive Works Inc. for an Easter weekend retreat camp in 2007 for children between the ages of 6 through 17.
–$20,000 to Housing, Parks and Recreation for Boys to Men's youth rehabilitation program.
–$10,000 to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency to purchase communication equipment.
–$22,000 to the V.I. Little League.
–$115,000 to repair the basketball court lights and bleachers at the Ralph de Chabert housing community.
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