Home News Local news PAY DELAYS HOLDING UP YRC DORM CONSTRUCTION

PAY DELAYS HOLDING UP YRC DORM CONSTRUCTION

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Feb. 28, 2002 — Construction of a new dormitory at the Youth Rehabilitation Center on St. Croix is at best an on-again, off-again proposition because of the V.I. government's slow payments to the contractor.
Human Services Assistant Commissioner Ferryneisa Benjamin told senators at a hearing of the Youth and Human Services Committee on Wednesday that work on the federally funded $1.3 million, 34-bed dormitory began last year. But the project has been "plagued with major setbacks" because of the tardy payments to Delta Electric, the project contractor, Benjamin said.
"Work stops until payment is made," Benjamin said, adding the pattern has occurred at least five times since last year.
Jason Williams, Human Services capital projects director, said work is currently suspended at the construction site in Anna's Hope. The project could be finished by the end of summer, he said.
Williams said the contractor stops work if payment is not made within 30 days. While the project is being paid for with federal funds, it takes 45 to 60 days for a check to clear the V.I. government bureaucracy.
Sen. David Jones called the situation "totally absurd" and said "no excuses can be made."
Benjamin said her department isn't necessarily at fault. "It's a systemic problem," she said.
Designed to accommodate 27 young people, the center houses more than 40 on any given day, Human Services officials have said.
Sen. Vargrave Richards, Youth and Human Services Committee chair, is sponsoring legislation to create a cabinet-level Division of Youth to address issues dealing with young people. Richards said he hopes to see the bill passed by the Legislature this summer.

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