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PFA Extends Terms of Five WICO Board Members

May 2, 2006 — The Public Finance Authority this week voted to extend the terms of five West Indian Co. Ltd. board members, agreed to review and possibly reprogram funds for two road projects on St. Croix, and decided to pursue litigation relative to the Yacht Haven Project.
The authority also agreed to outsource its bookkeeping and accounting and approved a negotiated settlement with the contractor who rebuilt the Peace Corps School after Marilyn.
In a board meeting, PFA members extended the terms of WICO board members Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, Roy Jackson, Alda Monsanto, Leona Smith and George Goodwin.
As WICO's parent agency, the PFA is responsible for appointing WICO board members. The appointees do not require Senate confirmation and serve at the pleasure of the PFA. As a member of both boards, the governor has control over both.
George Phillips, Public Works commissioner designate and legal counsel to the governor, asked the board to look for $3 million to make improvements to Scenic Road, which he said was crucial to the planned development of Annaly Bay – a 1,327-acre resort and residential community that is in the planning stages.
Phillips also requested $2 million to improve the road and drainage in Gallows Bay, also in support of a major development project — in this case a marina. In December the V.I. Port Authority Governing Board approved a lease of its dock and lands at Gallows Bay to the Gallows Bay Development Partners, whose marina would accommodate 40 yachts from 40- to 250-feet long. On the land side, the developers plan to build a three-story, mixed-use retail and office building totaling 140,400 square feet.
The board directed PFA interim director Kent Bernier to review the authority's finances and agreed to approve the projects no later than June 15 if it turns out that funds are available or could be reprogrammed.
PFA board member Paul Arnold asked Phillips to give the authority an update on all PFA-funded projects by the next board meeting. Arnold asked for everything that was either "committed or contracted."
In other money matters, the board gave its attorney James Hindels the go-ahead to pursue litigation against Long Bay Partners relative to $5 million in "credit enhancements" the company received to help finance the $8.5-million purchase of Yacht Haven from former owner Tan Kay Hock in September 2000. The authority does not feel it received all its money back.
The board also agree to pay a negotiated settlement of $342,000 to Custom Builders, the contractor hired to rebuild several schools destroyed in Hurricane Marilyn, including the one at issue – the Peace Corps School.
After agreeing to sign only a one-year contract, the board also voted Monday to continue the services of accounting firm Benham & Hodge.
Board member Ira Mills, director of the Office of Management and Budget, had suggested a two-year contract, but Roy Jackson, a certified public accountant and PFA board member, said he thought the functions being carried out by Benham & Hodge could easily be handled in-house at a reduced cost.
The accounting firm charges between $65 and $175 per hour depending on the service required.
All members of the PFA board were in attendance, which includes Turnbull; Mills; Jackson, Bernice Turnbull, commissioner of Finance; and Paul J. Arnold.

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