DeJongh sends bills dealing with revenue to Legislature


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ST. THOMAS - Gov. John deJongh Jr. on Monday night sent down four pieces of proposed legislation, some of which is intended to help increase government revenues.

Supplemental budget measures

The governor wants to amend the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. Some changes are housekeeping measures, correcting project codes and providing a more accurate scope of work and activities funded by the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund. Other items are designed to make government operate more efficiently, such as by giving Public Works the ability to use money from the rental vehicle surcharge for road repairs and helping the Internal Revenue Bureau's efforts to collect delinquent taxes.

Lonesome Dove

A bill to create a public corporation - that will be a subsidiary of the V.I. Public Finance Authority - to receive and manage the assets of a Texas corporation. The corporation's assets were awarded to the V.I. government in a tax dispute settlement.

The new venture will provide a revenue stream that the governor wants to earmark for early childhood education and financial assistance to the territory's hospitals and health care system.

Community Facilities Trust Fund

Under the agreement with the Diageo rum distillery, 3 percent of the annual gross cover-over rum revenues are to be deposited into the Community Facilities Trust Fund. The fund is administered by the Public Finance Authority and is meant to support community and sports facilities and urban development.

DeJongh submitted several new projects he would like to be financed by the fund.

- Eliminating 911 "dead zones" by enhancing the network's infrastructure.

- Expanding camera surveillance by the V.I. Police Department.

- Multiple projects to boost urban development in Christiansted, including dredging the Schooner Bay Channel and demolishing the former Ralph de Chabert Housing Community.

Hotel Development Act amendments

DeJongh said the Hotel Development Act of 2011 must be amended to include more islands and reduce some of the requirements for developers that may be limiting participation in the program.

In the original legislation, the program was supposed to end this year, but some interest in the program has arisen, and deJongh said it should be extended.

The law limited participation to developments on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. With deJongh's amendment, hotel developments on Water Island, Little St. James, Great St. James, Lovango Cay, Hans Lollick and other outlying islands are eligible to participate in the program.

One of the program requirements the governor wants to amend is a $500,000 annual contribution from the hotel, regardless of the size and scope of the development. The governor said this must be changed to allow more developers to participate.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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