The governor and Public Finance Authority will be able to buy up to $10 million worth of vehicles on credit for many agencies, from Public Works, Fire Service and the Bureau of Corrections, to the Office of the Governor, without budgetary authorization or Senate approval, if a bill sent out of committee Monday becomes law.
On two prior occasions, the Senate Finance Committee held the bill in committee. (See Related Link below.) As initially proposed, the bill, requested by Gov. Kenneth Mapp, authorized an $8 million revolving credit for an array of vehicles. [Bill 31-0224]. It had no cost breakdown for type of vehicle, leaving that to the executive branch to decide.
It originally authorized the purchase of "ceremonial vehicles for the office of the governor and lieutenant governor," as well as police cars, police boats, prisoner and passenger wagons, fire trucks and ambulances, prison fencing and surveillance equipment, and other material. It also originally authorized funding for "consulting services."
An amendment from Sen. Kurt Vialet added $2 million to the amount of revolving credit authorized, increasing the total to $10 million; added Public Works road repair equipment and changed "ceremonial vehicles" for the governor, to the more open-ended "vehicles for the government of the Virgin Islands."
Vialet said the bill had been held previously over concerns about an open-ended revolving credit, but that after speaking with Government House and the Public Finance Authority, he feels "a revolving credit facility will take care of all of our emergency vehicles."
The bill, as amended, would allow the PFA to borrow $10 million on a revolving credit, for an initial term not to exceed five years, with automatic renewal for three more years, and subsequent renewal up to the Legislature. If Mapp serves two terms, this would give the Mapp administration free rein to purchase vehicles as it chooses, on credit, without consulting the legislature, with authority ending a year and a half into the term of Mapp’s successor.
There was no debate or opposition. Voting for the measure were: Vialet, Sens. Marvin Blyden, Myron Jackson, Positive Nelson and Clifford Graham. Sens. Sammuel Sanes and Tregenza Roach were absent.