St. John Senator at Large Craig Barshinger won a fiscal skirmish with the deJongh Administration, but he is not done fighting to get an accounting of the St. John Capital Improvements Fund.
At the start of the 30th Legislature’s 2014 session on Tuesday, January 14, the V.I. Senate voted to override several of Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s vetoes of legislation which were part of the omnibus bill passed in November at the Legislature’s final session of 2013.
One major provision of the omnibus bill vetoed by Gov. deJongh which was overridden was the measure that provided a $1 million annual appropriation for four fiscal years for the purchase of 170 acres in Estate Carolina for the Coral Bay Park.
The legislation also provided for the construction of a center for recycling trash by the V.I. Waste Management Authority which would remove the bins from the roadside on the shore of Coral Bay.
The legislation included providing for preservation of the plantation era ruins on the parcel and establishing a “Parcel 7 Remainder Land Trust,” Sen. Barshinger explained.
Envisioning Future of Coral Bay
Sen. Barshinger still envisions the Coral Bay Park as the center of the growing Coral Bay community.
“Coral Bay is going to grow up,” Sen. Barshinger said. “I want to design Coral Bay around this property.”
“(Property owner) Sheldon Marsh’s vision is to have hiking and biking trails that would highlight the ruins,” the Senator at Large said. “A few acres will go to Waste Management on the south side of the property to move the dumpsters from the roadside mangroves.”
Gov. deJongh struck down the legislation citing the conflict with the autonomy of the Waste Management Authority to buy and sell its assets.
Gov. deJongh also cited his concerns the St. John Capital Improvement Fund, the source of funding for the land purchase, is over-appropriated.
Capital Fund Pays for Trash Hauling
Ironically most of the “appropriations” from the fund are an annual “removal” of $1.5 million to pay for the hauling of trash from the St. John to the landfill on St. Thomas.
Sen. Barshinger denied the St. John fund was over-appropriated and said the measure does not appropriate new funds but only updates the land sale and allows the property owner to pay back taxes of approximately $350,000.
”We know what should be there,” Sen. Barshinger said. “There is no evidence to support his contention that it has $9 million in encumbrances.
“We will definitely force the issue to get an actual accounting,” Sen. Barshinger continued. “The Governor has promised the world, but he’s given us nothing.”