Senate Looks at Bounced Checks Numbers

Finance Commissioner Kevin McCurdy fielded compliments and criticisms at Tuesday’s budget hearings. (Photo courtesy V.I. Legislature)

Finance Committee Chair Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory expressed concern to the Finance Department on Tuesday about how its budget was presented and how it accepted $2.2 million in worthless checks.

The lion’s share of the bounced checks ($1.7 million) was written to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Frett-Gregory said she believed those checks were written intentionally to bounce and that they should be sent to the Attorney General’s office for action.

Kevin McCurdy, the commissioner of Finance, agreed with Frett-Gregory and said he would take action regarding the bounced checks.

Lucy Nunez, the director of Finance’s Treasury, said the Department of Planning and Natural Resources received the most bounced checks after BIR—$157,000—and the Office of the Lt. Governor next with $100,000.

McCurdy said Finance encourages agencies to use TeleCheck, which guarantees checks that pass through its system. However, Telecheck does not guarantee checks over $25,000. Frett-Gregory recommended that it become government policy to accept only cashier’s checks for $25,000 or over.

Frett-Gregory said this was a problem with a history, and Nunez confirmed that the $2.2 million just counted checks bounced in fiscal year 2024.

Although Frett-Gregory complimented McCurdy on his work at Finance, she said about the budget presentation, “This is very frustrating. We have to do better than this.” She said the presentation included sums that did not need to be included and did not break down other categories as it should.

McCurdy testified that the Finance Department’s FY 2025 budget recommendation of $14 million includes funding from the general fund, government insurance fund, and the indirect cost fund.

He broke it down, saying the General Fund would supply almost $13 million and the Government Insurance Fund $969,347. The Indirect Cost Fund would contribute $108,500.

The budget would fund 62 positions, five of which are vacant. The appropriation would be $3.4 million from the General Fund and $412,000 from the Government Insurance Fund.

Projected fringe benefits for FY 2025 are at $1,625,500.

The Office of Management and Budget was also supposed to present its budget, but the presentation was delayed because of Director Jenifer O’Neal’s recent resignation.