82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, December 4, 2023


Main Street merchants closed their doors Tuesday afternoon and led a group of employees on a march to the Legislature to protest the $2.50 ocean carrier tax that is part of the Financial Accountability and Short-Term Revenue Enhancement Act of 1999 being considered by the Senate Finance Committee.
Dodging at first raindrops and then a full-blown downpour and intermittently chanting "no taxes – more ships," 200 people carrying umbrellas and protest signs saying "save our jobs — add ships, not taxes" blew boat horns calling senators out of the Senate chambers to answer questions and demands.
Sen. Lorraine Berry, chair of the Finance Committee, emerged from the chamber a few minutes after the group arrived and upon a request by Filippo Cassinelli, vice-president of A.H. Riise, agreed to remove the section of the bill that addresses the cruise-line head tax from the Financial Accountability Bill until the Finance Committee can meet with a group representing the retailers.
Prior to Berry's commitment, Cassinelli addressed the group, saying, "Remember when the Monarch was down for eight weeks when it ran aground? This island lost $12 to $14 million."
"After the hurricane they were here within six weeks," he said. "I don't think the answer is to tax our partners."
The group, led by Michael Creque, manager for Cardow Jewelers, moved from the Legislature to Government House to continue the protest.
Edric Jones, also a manager at A.H. Riise, reinforced the retailers' position from the steps of Government House.
Government House officials did not respond to the protest and as the rain got heavier, the group dispersed, heading back toward Main Street.
There were no cruise ships in St. Thomas today.

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