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Finance Committee approves $17 million to the V.I. Port Authority for harbor dredging

Posted on November 13, 2023

Finance Committee members approved two big ticket appropriations on Tuesday morning, authorizing $17 million to the V.I. Port Authority for harbor dredging and $5.124 for construction and site improvements to the Paul E. Joseph Stadium Project.

Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe told lawmakers that dredging portions of Charlotte Amalie Harbor including the entrance channel, turning basin and West India Company berth will enable larger cruise ships to safely enter and berth at St. Thomas.

In his testimony, Dowe acknowledged that the appropriation covered dredging in the latter two areas but may fall short of the amount needed to dredge the entrance channel. The Port Authority will work with the V.I. Public Finance Authority to identify other funding sources. Dowe added later that the Port Authority expects the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve a dredging permit before April 2024.

Dowe told lawmakers that Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and Port Authority leadership sat down with high level Army Corps of Engineers staff several months ago to discuss federalizing the territory’s harbors.

“We are one of the few places under this U.S. flag that harbors are dredged by the local government,” he said.

The measure is funded from the excess funds in the Debt Service Reserve Fund for the Gross Receipts Taxes Revenue Bonds, according to the bill’s text.

The bill that appropriated $5.124 million toward the completion of the Paul E. Joseph Stadium was amended to direct funds from the Community Facilities Trust Fund rather than the Internal Revenue Matching Fund.

Testifiers told senators the project has cost $32.4 million to date.


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