Finance Authority board OKs 2 contracts, 2013 budget
Published: March 9, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Public Finance Authority board approved two contracts and the agency's $7.6 million 2013 operating budget Friday.
One of the contracts is for spending up to $250,000 to tell the public how the government spent millions in federal stimulus money.
The contract was awarded to Boston-based Westland Strategies LLC for communications consulting, public relations, and the development of a media plan for two of the Public Finance Authority's subsidiaries, the Office of Economic Opportunity and the V.I. Next Generation Network.
The Office of Economic Opportunity was formed to oversee the territory's federal grants awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The V.I. Next Generation Network was formed to build the territory's first open-access broadband network, funded by the federal stimulus grants.
Office of Economic Opportunity Director Vicki Johnson said Friday that the contract will include professional services and the actual development and purchase of advertising.
She said the marketing campaign is not required as part of the federal stimulus grants, but the grants require complete transparency and accountability to the public, and the public relations campaign will achieve that goal.
The Daily News could not find a website or contact information for Westland Strategies in a basic Internet search.
The Public Finance Authority board also approved a $150,000 contract to Jaredian Design Group for design changes to the Turnbull Regional Library in Tutu. The architecture firm did the original design of the library, and was called back to make additions to the original plan.
Included in a recent bond issue, the government earmarked $2 million for additions to the new library.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the library took place in 2006, but construction did not begin on the $20 million project until late 2008.
To date, the library still has not opened to the public.
The additional funds will allow for graffiti-proofing the exterior library walls, landscaping, exterior fencing, an entry sign, a dumpster pad and screen and wall enclosures between public spaces and mechanical areas.
From the additional funding, $1.3 million will be used to install solar panels on the library to reduce energy costs, according to Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls.
The new additions will not affect the opening of the library, which has not yet been scheduled, Smalls said.
The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources has closed the Enid Baa library in downtown Charlotte Amalie and said it is transitioning books and equipment to the new building.
The Public Finance Authority board also adopted the 2013 operating budget Friday, which is about $300,000 less than last year's budget.
The $7,655,000 budget includes $1,504,325 for the administration of the Public Finance Authority offices, $4,765,000 for professional services, and $1,385,675 to cover operations of the Office of Economic Opportunity.
Professional services includes legal counsel, contractors, bond counsel, accounting and auditing services.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.