Senators continue budget hearings
Published: August 18, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The Senate Finance Committee continued budget hearings this week with Fiscal Year 2013 budget requests from a number of government agencies.
Economic Development Authority
The Economic Development Authority officials defended a $4,567,000 General Fund budget for the agency Friday. The request is 8.9 percent less than 2012.
To function with a reduced budget, EDA President and Chief Executive Officer Percival Clouden said he plans to reduce the amount of cell phones by 60 percent, reduce utility costs, install a video conference system to reduce travel costs, consolidating to reduce advertising costs, and streamlining procurement to reduce expenses for materials and supplies.
The Economic Development Authority is an umbrella organization for many territorial economic development programs: the Economic Development Commission program; the Industrial Park Development Corporation; the Government Development Bank; the Small Business Development Agency; and the Enterprise Zone initiative.
The Economic Development Authority receives General Fund money in the miscellaneous portion of the budget. It also earns income from annual fees paid by Economic Development Commission beneficiaries and fines levied against beneficiaries that do not comply with the terms of their certificates.
Clouden said the Economic Development Authority expects to receive about $625,800 in fees in FY 2013, bringing the total amount of money for the authority's operations to $5.2 million.
Housing, Parks and Recreation
V.I. Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner St. Claire Williams defended his agency's $5.9 million budget proposal for FY 2013 on Wednesday.
The request is 11 percent less than the previous year's appropriation.
In addition to the operating budget, the department is set to receive a $1,715,000 miscellaneous section appropriation. Of the miscellaneous section earmark, $700,000 is for utilities for the territory's parks and sports facilities. Most of the remainder goes for other purposes unrelated to the department that are under the Housing, Parks and Recreation only for budgetary reasons.
The department also expects to receive about $654,513 from the Casino Revenue Fund, which helps fund afterschool programs and other youth organizations.
Bureau of Economic Research
Bureau of Economic Research Director Wharton Berger defended the agency's $591,000 General Fund budget request Friday.
Additionally, the agency is slated to receive $150,000 from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund, for a total FY 2013 budget request of $741,000.
The bureau compiles economic reports for the territory, including the monthly tourism indicators. The bureau also provides technical assistance to government; drafts economic projections; conducts economic impact studies; and derives the annual estimate of the territorial gross domestic product.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. submitted enabling legislation along with the FY 2013 budget proposal that would merge the bureau with the Economic Development Authority. The Bureau of Economic Research currently is under the Office of the Governor.
Office of Veterans Affairs
The governor has recommended a $340,828 General Fund FY 2013 budget appropriation for the Office of Veterans Affairs, $42,617 less than 2012.
In addition to the operating budget, the office has $400,000 earmarked in the miscellaneous section for medical and burial expenses for the territory's veterans.
The office also anticipates revenues - between $10,000 and $15,000 - from the sale of taxi medallions by the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs and about $150,000 from the V.I. Lottery.
The Law Enforcement Planning Commission manages federal grants awarded to the territory for crime prevention and victim services.
The governor's General Fund budget recommendation for FY 2013 is $572,310, which is about 10 percent less than the FY 2012 budget appropriation. Of the total recommendation, $432,205 is for personnel costs, $73,800 is for rent and $66,305 is for utilities.
The General Fund budget pays for seven employees, but federal grants fund an additional four positions.
The Law Enforcement Planning Commission manages the Justice Assistance Grant; the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Grant; the Victims of Crime Assistance Grant; the Violence Against Women Grant; the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Grant; and the Enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws Grant.
Office of the Adjutant General
The governor is recommending a FY 2013 General Fund budget of $1,450,881 for the Office of the Adjutant General.
The proposed budget is 7.9 percent less that FY 2012. The agency has $53,400 earmarked in the miscellaneous section for the National Guard pension fund, and expects to receive $5.3 million in federal funds for a total operating budget of $6.8 million.
The V.I. Adjutant General's Office is responsible for commanding and managing the V.I. Army and Air National Guard and related programs.
The Public Employees Relations Board receives no General Fund money, but the agency is seeking a $1,106,370 appropriation from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees Increment Fund for operating expenses for FY 2013.
PERB hears V.I. government employee labor disputes and provides a variety of training exercises to government agencies. The agency provides arbitration, mediation and administrative hearings for government workers and labor unions.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.