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TURNBULL VETOES REALLOCATING OF BOND FUNDS

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All but one section of the last bill passed by the 23rd Legislature in 1999 won Gov. Charles Turnbull's signature Tuesday.
The governor vetoed the single section because it would have reallocated proceeds from the recent $300 million bond issue, a move that he said would be in violation of the terms of the bond issue.
Bill 23-0193 was approved by the Senate in its last session of the year, on Dec. 15, after several senators tacked on amendments to the zoning measure.
In his transmittal letter to Senate President Vargrave Richards, Turnbull said he vetoed the one section because it sought to change the way the proceeds of the bond issue would be allocated.
The section would have increased the amount for working capital, to $75 million from $74 million, provided for the payment of $1 million of the V.I. Housing Finance Authority debt, and reduced the amount allocated for vendor payments.
According to Turnbull, the vetoed section would have made the VIHFA and other government agencies "potential recipients of bond proceeds."
"As written, the amendment reallocates bond proceeds and places no limit on the amount of money that could be committed to these entities," he wrote. "Hence, in addition to the fact that the amount authorized for vendor payments has already been committed, this ambiguity creates a substantial change to the circumstances as they existed at the time we closed the bond deal.
"More importantly, bond counsel has informed us that any reprogramming of bond monies or a change in the recipients would create a situation which violates the terms of the bond documents."
Of the $300 million in bond money, the government designated some $136 million for tax refunds, $46 million for vendor payments, $30 million for bonding services and escrow, $30 million for repayment of a loan from Banco Popular and $15 million for payment into the government retirement fund. The balance, some $43 million, was earmarked for meeting payroll.
Turnbull signed a bill bestowing the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor on Judge Verne A. Hodge, who retired in November from his position as presiding judge of Territorial Court. Hodge, who had held the post since the court was created in 1976, was cited for his myriad accomplishments in the courtroom and the community. Among these was the creation of the internationally recognized V.I. Territorial Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra.

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