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Road Repairs Among Items in Supplemental Budget Bill Approved by Senate

June 22, 2007 — A supplemental budget bill submitted earlier this week by Gov. John deJongh Jr. was approved by the full Senate body Friday, making additional funds available for a variety of government expenses, including gas coupons for government vehicles and territory-wide road repairs.
In its original form, the bill does not appropriate additional money from the General Fund, but proposes to cover the costs by reassigning $6.3 million from two projects already funded in the miscellaneous section of the fiscal year 2007 budget. However, amendments tacked onto the bill by senators bumped the spending figure up to $6.8 million — an increase intended to fund a few additional projects on St. Croix, along with a conference hosted by the V.I. Volleyball Federation.
But at the end of the day, one of the amendments takes money out of the General Fund for the Volleyball Federation's event, along with another $14,000 from the government's athletic fund to cover travel expenses and camp fees for the volleyball team at the St. Croix Educational Complex.
Consequently, the dollar value of the other appropriations included in the bill only totals about $6.2 million — leaving $639,000 in reassigned funds still available for use. When contacted late Friday afternoon, Senate President Usie R. Richards said the governor can use the leftover funds for other purposes once the Legislature authorizes him to do so.
In the meantime, a majority of the funds will go toward spending measures meant to take the territory through the current hurricane season, said Office of Management and Budget Director Debra Gottlieb during Friday's Committee of the Whole hearing. Additional money is needed to cover cost overruns incurred by a few departments and agencies, she said.
The bill as amended:
— appropriates $1.1 million to the Department of Property and Procurement to purchase gasoline for government vehicles. (During Friday's meeting, senators suggested that the department beat out skyrocketing fuel prices by revamping its fleet, switching from "gas-guzzling" sport-utility vehicles to more energy-efficient hybrids.);
— appropriates $75,000 to the Department of Tourism for a summer program designed to market and promote St. Croix;
— appropriates $4 million to Public Works for territory-wide road repair and construction projects. (During the meeting, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls explained that much of the funding will cover contracts with road crews hired to clear roads, guts and other facilities once a hurricane hits.);
— appropriates $200,000 to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency to put contracts in place for the ongoing hurricane season, and to cover costs for a firm hired to evaluate the government's disaster-management services;
— appropriates $464, 000 to the St. Croix Foundation as a grant to complete the rebuilding of certain facilities located on St. Croix, and for the maintenance of trees, lighting bricks and the parking area at the Sunday Market Square in Christiansted;
— allows funds already appropriated for projects at two St. Thomas Elementary Schools to be available until expended; and
— appropriates $75,000 to the Department of Agriculture to complete renovations to the Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow in Market Square on St. Thomas.
The completion of the project has been the topic of much conversation over the past few days, as a ceremony heralding the re-opening of the bungalow was previously planned for Friday morning. However, Commissioner of Agriculture Louis E. Petersen explained to senators that a few additional details, such as lighting repairs, still have to be taken care of.
He also explained that a large chunk of the $75,000 will cover the government's last payment to the contractor hired to complete the project.
Voting in favor of the bill were Sens. Liston Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, Neville James, Norman Jn Baptiste, Basil Ottley Jr., Richards, James Weber III and Alvin L. Williams.
Sens. Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Ronald E. Russell voted against the bill.
Sens. Carmen M. Wesselhoft and Celestino A. White Sr. were absent.
Senators did not vote, however, on another bill recently submitted by deJongh, which reorganizes the structure of the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation. According to the proposal, all of the department's housing functions will be transferred to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority in an effort to consolidate all of the government's housing initiatives under one specified agency.
While many agreed that the reorganization is necessary, Hill pointed out that he has been working on a similar proposal for at least the past year, and has preempted the governor's bill by already submitting a drafting request to the Legislature's legal counsel. Hill said his bill will make its way through the Senate in the future, going through the various committees en route to the full body for a final vote.
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June 22, 2007 -- A supplemental budget bill submitted earlier this week by Gov. John deJongh Jr. was approved by the full Senate body Friday, making additional funds available for a variety of government expenses, including gas coupons for government vehicles and territory-wide road repairs.
In its original form, the bill does not appropriate additional money from the General Fund, but proposes to cover the costs by reassigning $6.3 million from two projects already funded in the miscellaneous section of the fiscal year 2007 budget. However, amendments tacked onto the bill by senators bumped the spending figure up to $6.8 million -- an increase intended to fund a few additional projects on St. Croix, along with a conference hosted by the V.I. Volleyball Federation.
But at the end of the day, one of the amendments takes money out of the General Fund for the Volleyball Federation's event, along with another $14,000 from the government's athletic fund to cover travel expenses and camp fees for the volleyball team at the St. Croix Educational Complex.
Consequently, the dollar value of the other appropriations included in the bill only totals about $6.2 million -- leaving $639,000 in reassigned funds still available for use. When contacted late Friday afternoon, Senate President Usie R. Richards said the governor can use the leftover funds for other purposes once the Legislature authorizes him to do so.
In the meantime, a majority of the funds will go toward spending measures meant to take the territory through the current hurricane season, said Office of Management and Budget Director Debra Gottlieb during Friday's Committee of the Whole hearing. Additional money is needed to cover cost overruns incurred by a few departments and agencies, she said.
The bill as amended:
-- appropriates $1.1 million to the Department of Property and Procurement to purchase gasoline for government vehicles. (During Friday's meeting, senators suggested that the department beat out skyrocketing fuel prices by revamping its fleet, switching from "gas-guzzling" sport-utility vehicles to more energy-efficient hybrids.);
-- appropriates $75,000 to the Department of Tourism for a summer program designed to market and promote St. Croix;
-- appropriates $4 million to Public Works for territory-wide road repair and construction projects. (During the meeting, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls explained that much of the funding will cover contracts with road crews hired to clear roads, guts and other facilities once a hurricane hits.);
-- appropriates $200,000 to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency to put contracts in place for the ongoing hurricane season, and to cover costs for a firm hired to evaluate the government's disaster-management services;
-- appropriates $464, 000 to the St. Croix Foundation as a grant to complete the rebuilding of certain facilities located on St. Croix, and for the maintenance of trees, lighting bricks and the parking area at the Sunday Market Square in Christiansted;
-- allows funds already appropriated for projects at two St. Thomas Elementary Schools to be available until expended; and
-- appropriates $75,000 to the Department of Agriculture to complete renovations to the Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow in Market Square on St. Thomas.
The completion of the project has been the topic of much conversation over the past few days, as a ceremony heralding the re-opening of the bungalow was previously planned for Friday morning. However, Commissioner of Agriculture Louis E. Petersen explained to senators that a few additional details, such as lighting repairs, still have to be taken care of.
He also explained that a large chunk of the $75,000 will cover the government's last payment to the contractor hired to complete the project.
Voting in favor of the bill were Sens. Liston Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, Neville James, Norman Jn Baptiste, Basil Ottley Jr., Richards, James Weber III and Alvin L. Williams.
Sens. Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Ronald E. Russell voted against the bill.
Sens. Carmen M. Wesselhoft and Celestino A. White Sr. were absent.
Senators did not vote, however, on another bill recently submitted by deJongh, which reorganizes the structure of the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation. According to the proposal, all of the department's housing functions will be transferred to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority in an effort to consolidate all of the government's housing initiatives under one specified agency.
While many agreed that the reorganization is necessary, Hill pointed out that he has been working on a similar proposal for at least the past year, and has preempted the governor's bill by already submitting a drafting request to the Legislature's legal counsel. Hill said his bill will make its way through the Senate in the future, going through the various committees en route to the full body for a final vote.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.