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Superior Court has Eight Months to Set Up Magistrate Division

July 4, 2008 — Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed into law Friday a bill giving the V.I. Superior Court until March 2009 to set up its magistrate division, but he line-item vetoed several appropriations amendments attached to the bill during a recent Senate session.
The bill also ups the number of members on the magistrate-selection panel to 11 and allows magistrates to issue temporary and permanent restraining orders in domestic-violence cases.
Amendments vetoed by the governor appropriate $70,408 to cover payments owed by the Department of Education to Silcott Corp. Enterprises, $75,000 for events and equipment for youth organizations, and $44,000 for Human Services to continue a pilot program that trains students to deal with their aggression.
DeJongh also vetoed an amendment calling for the Board of Education — in conjunction with the Education Department and Office of Management and Budget — to implement a data-collection system to track how federal and local appropriations are spent, and to submit a report on the expenditures to the Legislature on a quarterly basis.
"The Department of Education is already working to make information on its expenditures on a school-by-school basis available," the governor wrote in a letter to Senate President Usie R. Richards explaining his decisions. "I also was informed by the Board of Education that they do not have the resources to undertake the obligations imposed on it in this proposal."
He also vetoed an amendment mandating that the Office of the Tax Assessor justify delinquent tax notices dating back more than seven years.
"While I am acutely aware of the complaints made by property owners who have received notices of tax delinquency which may be inconsistent with their own records, the Office of the Tax Assessor already has taken steps to correct any errors in such notices, and continues to review its records to ensure their accuracy," deJongh said. "Further the shift of the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the government is a significant change in well-settled principles of tax administration, and the lack of definition of 'burden of proof' can only lead to serious administrative difficulties."
DeJongh also vetoed an amendment calling for residents or companies applying for zoning changes to be in good standing with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, Tax Assessor's Office and Department of Finance before presenting their request before the Senate.
However, the governor did sign into law a bill that sets up a separate beach-access account within the government's land-bank fund to buy land or easements for public beach access, along with amendments that:
— set up an amnesty program that waives all interest and penalties for residents owing gross-receipts taxes up to 2007;
— allows the V.I. Water and Power Authority to put $250,000 allotted more than 10 years ago for a new generator toward buying a new bucket-and-digger truck for St. John;
— appropriate $100,000 for transportation for the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School's JROTC members;
— appropriate $5,000 for medical-alert bracelets for senior citizens;
— allow high school students going for a bachelor's degree in international relations to qualify for a $5,000 scholarship; and
— make money previously appropriated to the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation for upgrades to recreational facilities and equipment on St. Croix available until expended.
Also signed into law was a bill honoring and commending Victor W. Sewer posthumously for his service to the St. John community, and renaming the Cruz Bay Creek facility the Victor W. Sewer Marine Facility.
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July 4, 2008 -- Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed into law Friday a bill giving the V.I. Superior Court until March 2009 to set up its magistrate division, but he line-item vetoed several appropriations amendments attached to the bill during a recent Senate session.
The bill also ups the number of members on the magistrate-selection panel to 11 and allows magistrates to issue temporary and permanent restraining orders in domestic-violence cases.
Amendments vetoed by the governor appropriate $70,408 to cover payments owed by the Department of Education to Silcott Corp. Enterprises, $75,000 for events and equipment for youth organizations, and $44,000 for Human Services to continue a pilot program that trains students to deal with their aggression.
DeJongh also vetoed an amendment calling for the Board of Education -- in conjunction with the Education Department and Office of Management and Budget -- to implement a data-collection system to track how federal and local appropriations are spent, and to submit a report on the expenditures to the Legislature on a quarterly basis.
"The Department of Education is already working to make information on its expenditures on a school-by-school basis available," the governor wrote in a letter to Senate President Usie R. Richards explaining his decisions. "I also was informed by the Board of Education that they do not have the resources to undertake the obligations imposed on it in this proposal."
He also vetoed an amendment mandating that the Office of the Tax Assessor justify delinquent tax notices dating back more than seven years.
"While I am acutely aware of the complaints made by property owners who have received notices of tax delinquency which may be inconsistent with their own records, the Office of the Tax Assessor already has taken steps to correct any errors in such notices, and continues to review its records to ensure their accuracy," deJongh said. "Further the shift of the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the government is a significant change in well-settled principles of tax administration, and the lack of definition of 'burden of proof' can only lead to serious administrative difficulties."
DeJongh also vetoed an amendment calling for residents or companies applying for zoning changes to be in good standing with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, Tax Assessor's Office and Department of Finance before presenting their request before the Senate.
However, the governor did sign into law a bill that sets up a separate beach-access account within the government's land-bank fund to buy land or easements for public beach access, along with amendments that:
-- set up an amnesty program that waives all interest and penalties for residents owing gross-receipts taxes up to 2007;
-- allows the V.I. Water and Power Authority to put $250,000 allotted more than 10 years ago for a new generator toward buying a new bucket-and-digger truck for St. John;
-- appropriate $100,000 for transportation for the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School's JROTC members;
-- appropriate $5,000 for medical-alert bracelets for senior citizens;
-- allow high school students going for a bachelor's degree in international relations to qualify for a $5,000 scholarship; and
-- make money previously appropriated to the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation for upgrades to recreational facilities and equipment on St. Croix available until expended.
Also signed into law was a bill honoring and commending Victor W. Sewer posthumously for his service to the St. John community, and renaming the Cruz Bay Creek facility the Victor W. Sewer Marine Facility.
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.