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Property and Procurement Still Planning Supplemental Budget Request

July 19, 2006 — While Property and Procurement Commissioner Marc A. Biggs said he is "pleased" with this year's budget recommendation, he told senators during the second round of budget hearings Wednesday that the department would still be submitting a supplemental budget request of approximately $2.8 million.
After the meeting, Biggs said the additional money would provide funding for 20 new positions at a cost of nearly $482,000; $80,000 for excess utility charges; $400,000 to increase the department's supply pool; and approximately $1.58 million to purchase two 12,000-gallon fuel tanks for both districts.
During the meeting, Biggs explained that the fuel tanks would be placed in government motor pools proposed for both St. Thomas and St. Croix–an effort, he said, that could reduce the amount of gas purchased annually by the central government. "We are still being affected by the soaring cost of fuel," he said. "Establishing motor pools in both districts would give the Property and Procurement Commissioner the authority to purchase government vehicles and therefore control how much each vehicle is used. The motor pool itself would be a garage where these vehicles could come and park or be refueled."
After the meeting, Biggs said that a portion of the funds included in the department's supplemental budget request (located under a $310,000 appropriation line-itemed as "other services and charges") would go toward putting the facilities in place.
He added that a site has been identified for a motor pool on St. Thomas, but the project is still in the beginning phases on St. Croix.
In a related matter, Biggs said the department has created a plan for the construction of above-ground storage tanks for the St. Thomas-St. John district. "With capacities of 1,000 gallons and 560 gallons, these tanks will serve as auxiliary sources of fuel to support emergency and recovery efforts after a disaster," he said. "We are currently in the process of having them installed, and they should all be functional by July 26."
While Biggs asked senators to consider Property and Procurement's supplemental budget request, he also urged that the department's $18.6 million overall operating budget be approved.
The operating budget calls for:
–$5.45 million from the General Fund, including: approximately $3.7 million for personnel services and $1.2 million for fringe benefits; nearly $33,000 for supplies; $331,000 for other services and charges; and $125,000 for utilities.
–$1.74 million from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund (money collected from rent the department collects on approximately 142 properties), including: $1.1 million for personnel services and $331,135 for fringe benefits; and $25,000 for supplies.
–$344,264 from the Indirect Cost Fund, including nearly $264,000 for personnel services and $79,318 for fringe benefits.
–$991,000 line-itemed in the miscellaneous section of the overall executive budget for insurance premiums on government-owned buildings, flood insurance and appraisal fees for the department.
–$1.1 million from nonappropriated funds.
After the meeting, Biggs explained that money from the Indirect Cost Fund would go toward maintaining the department's properties and paying salaries for Property and Procurement employees.
During the meeting, Biggs said the increase in the department's General Fund budget–which totals nearly $842,000–would primarily go toward funding salary increases for current employees, along with 15 new positions.
While senators had few questions for Biggs about the budget, they did discuss a variety of issues, including various cost-saving initiatives and the department's large percentages of unfilled positions.
Biggs said that all of Property and Procurement's job vacancies are first posted in-house, then submitted to the Division of Personnel for a list of possible applicants. He added, however, that the department has had trouble filling these spots–due to a "myriad" of reasons–but is working "aggressively" to fill the positions by the end of FY 2006.
Present during Wednesday's meeting were Sens. Roosevelt C. David, Liston Davis, Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, Neville James, Norman Jn Baptiste, Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Usie R. Richards.

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