V.I. Lottery Doing OK In Troubled Times

Along with providing $5.2 million to government programs through various legislated apportionments, the V.I. Lottery projects it will make money this year and contribute about $203,000 to the General Fund, Director Conrad E. Francois II said during budget hearings Monday.

The $5.2 million is divided between an array of mandated government programs such as the Education Initiative Fund, Office of Veterans Affairs and the Government Employees’ Retirement System’s Retirees Bonus Fund, with a set percentage of revenues going to each.

The V.I. Lottery’s proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget is $20.4 million. That includes $10.9 million from St. Thomas video lottery terminals. For the unfamiliar, VLTs are extremely similar to slot machines, but regulated by the Lottery Commission instead of the V.I. Casino Control Commission.

The Lottery expects another $8.4 million in traditional lottery ticket sales, $1.1 million in online games and $26,000 in other income, for total revenues of $20.4 million.

The Lottery generates its own operating revenue through its ticket sales. It projects roughly $8 million in direct costs for prizes, printing, drawing the lottery, dealer bonuses and incentives. Employee salaries and all other costs bring V.I. Lottery’s total operating expenses to $15.1 million, leaving net operating income of $5.4 million.

Sen. Celestino White asked Francois what were the V.I. Lottery’s three major accomplishments for Fiscal Year 2012. “Lottery tickets are now being printed in the Virgin Islands, capital improvements were done on the two main buildings in the district of St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John, improvements were done to St. Croix’s sales offices in Frederiksted, Sunny Isles, and the office on St. John was modernized,” Francois said.

Legal Services of the Virgin Islands and the V.I. Labor Management Committee also presented their budgets Monday.

Legal Services of the Virgin Islands provides civil legal assistance to low-income, elderly and other disadvantaged V.I. residents. It is also the only V.I. agency that provides free civil legal assistance to eligible clients. It is governed by a 15-member board. Two thirds of its budget comes from the V.I. General Fund, and the other third from a federal agency, the Legal Services Corp.

Legal Services’ proposed FY13 budget is $890,000 from the miscellaneous section of the General Fund – $10,000 less than the 2012 appropriation. But Director Richard Austin told the Senate Finance Committee Monday his department has projected expenditures for FY13 of $1 million, or $110,000 more than the recommended budget.

"If we approve the amount the government has recommended, what is your fallback plan?" Sen. Janette Millin-Young asked Austin.

"We are already lean," Austin said. "We would have to look at our staff budget … and that would probably mean losing an attorney," he said.

Legal Services projects it will spend $443,000 for wages and salaries; $121,000 for associated benefits; $11,000 for supplies; $370,000 for "Other Services and Charges"; $15,000 for Capital Outlays; and $40,000 for utilities – for grand total of $1 million.

The V.I. Labor Management Committee’s proposed FY13 budget from the General Fund is $175,000. This is an increase of $10,000 over its FY12 appropriation.

Of that small sum, $94,000 will go for wages and salaries; $16,000 to fringe benefits, Medicare and Social Security taxes; $5,000 for supplies; and $60,000 in "Other Services and Charges."

No votes were taken at the information-gathering oversight hearing.

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