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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, April 13, 2024


Unionized government employees are looking skeptically at the "Prosser-V.I. deal," Central Labor Council President Luis "Tito" Morales said Friday morning.
"I've gotten 35-40 calls, and all of the employees I talked to said they wanted money, not land," he said. "But I guess it's a point for negotiation."
Though there has been speculation that labor leaders were in on the conversations leading up to the proposed exchange of 1,000 acres at Carambola for $180 million worth of tax breaks, Morales said he knew nothing about it.
Morales also said he hadn't spoken with the governor about the deal before or since it went public. But the feedback from employees has been negative.
Sen. Lorraine Berry said she would reserve judgment until seeing the package being offered, but did say if the plan involved forgoing tax revenue from businessman Jeffrey Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp. to the government, she couldn't approve it.
Berry also cautioned, "We've been down this path before. People agree to do things that don't get done."
Kris Brunt, owner of MSI Building Supplies, said, "If we don't try something, we'll never have anything. As a business person I have to say any asset is better than nothing – an asset is better than a promise."
"What scares me is the infrastructure of Vitelco," she added. "We are going to give all these tax breaks without any guarantees about what we are going to get back. But what do I know except what I read in the Daily News."
Businessman Joe Hodge, owner of Apex Construction, said "I don't believe it's going to solve our financial problems. I also object to the way it was covered in the newspaper."
Hodge said he thought the deal might contain some good things, but he didn't think it was good enough.
"People in St. Croix might be interested in the land, but I don't think it will help people in St. Thomas," Hodge said. "I think it has a hidden agenda. Like the folks buying the land will have to go to his bank to get mortgages, which means he'll still have control of the land."
Hodge said the one thing he liked about the proposal was the idea of Prosser giving up the $25 million in IDC benefits he is currently getting for his telephone company, V.I. Telephone Corp.
Richard Doumeng Sr., former president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel Association, said, "I think we're lucky to have someone of Mr. Prosser's financial magnitude in our community. We shouldn't always be so skeptical about businessmen. I am a businessman and I can assure you I have the best interest of the community in mind."
He added, "I think the plan has a great deal of merit and we should continue the investigation and complete the deal."
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg was not impressed by Prosser's willingness to forgo the IDC benefits in lieu of the new tax benefits he seeks, which, according to Ed Crouch, spokesman for Innovative Communications Corp., include exemption from all taxes — gross receipts tax, income and property taxes.
In a release from Donastorg's office, he said, "Prosser is making such a proposal now in an effort to avoid or stall pending government investigations that would closely scrutinize his business practices. It is unlikely, however, that the Federal Communications Commission will be easily swayed by any such deal and it is unwise for the V.I. government to further attach itself to EmCom before the FCC concludes its investigation."
For the full text of Donastorg's press release go to News/Local government .
See the earlier stories for details on the proposed deal with Prosser.

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