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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024


May 14, 2003 – The 25th Legislature's Minority Caucus hand delivered to the heads of the territory's executive, legislative and judicial branches on Wednesday its list of 25 suggested "Revenue Generating and Government Efficiency Actions."
The listing, as promised, follows the minority's submission to the same officials on April 29 of a list of 25 suggested "Cost Reductions and Government Improvement Policy Actions." (See "Senate minority proposes 25 cost-cutting steps".)
Again, the minority is asking Senate President David Jones to convene a Committee of the Whole meeting — as it has done since early in January — to hear from the territory's fiscal officers on the government's financial status and to discuss the minority's recommendations.
The cover letter, signed by Sen. Raymond "Usie" Richards, the minority leader, requests a meeting to "discuss action and/or measures that will aid in addressing our 'financial crisis'."
Neither Gov. Charles W. Turnbull nor Jones has scheduled such a meeting since Turnbull's April 24 announcement that the territory is approaching a $115 million deficit for this fiscal year.
At Wednesday night's Committee of the Whole meeting on a proposed V.I. Tourism Authority, Sen. Carlton Dowe, a Minority Caucus member, said that "the governor just informed me he would be meeting with the minority. If he wants action, he comes to us."
The Minority Caucus revenue-generating proposals call for:
1. The collection at all V.I. ports of a $1 fee for each motor vehicle tire imported into the territory that measure 18 inches or less in diameter, and $2 each for any tires that are larger.
2. Imposition of a $100 road impact fee for cargo trainers that traverse public roads and of a $100 transshipment fee for cargo containers entering V.I. ports for transshipment purposes.
3. Authorizing the Port Authority to collect its own fees by decertifying the pre-collection process with U.S. Customs, thus eliminating associated administrative costs; and increasing the V.I. government's share of the port collection fees to 10 percent from 5 percent.
4. The West Indian Co. to transfer 50 percent of its annual dividend payments slated for the Public Finance Authority to the General Fund to be used for social services, health and education purposes.
5. Increasing unemployment insurance benefits by increasing the rate of the average weekly wage to 80 percent from 65 percent for a one-year trial period. The adjustment is based on a V.I. cost of living 20 percent higher than on the mainland and will provide for an infusion of money into the economy, the minority said.
6. Repeal of certain provisions of Acts 6463 and 6391 as they relate to the collection of excise taxes and customs duties.
7. Requiring that 50 percent of contributions now made by Economic Development Commission beneficiaries be deposited into an Education and Youth Sports Fund.
8. Establishing penalties, to be administered y the V.I. Banking Board, for failure to comply with the V.I. Community Reinvestment Act.
9. Increasing commercial licensure banking fees by 25 percent.
10. Authorizing the government to identify additional suitable public property for the sale of 1/4 acre plots to first-time homeowners.
11. Increasing marriage license fees by 100 percent.
12. Assessing a head tax of $2 per person for water tour boats using government port facilities and docks, to be collected by WICO and the Port Authority and deposited in the General Fund.
13. Requiring semi-autonomous agencies including the Water and Power Authority, the Port Authority and the University of the Virgin Islands to pay Motor Vehicle Bureau fees.
14. Establishing the use of pre-paid parking cards for use on public roads and high-traffic areas.
15. Expanding credit-card payments for government services.
16. Increasing the types and numbers of categories and/or items allowed for confiscation under police crime fighting funds.
17. Allowing V.I. military personnel stationed abroad to register their vehicles with the V.I. Motor Vehicle Bureau.
18. Amending Titles 28 and 657 to shorten the funds claim period to two years from five.
19. Establishing a 5 percent wholesale tax on imported cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, to be deposited into a special Health and Rehabilitation Fund.
20. Providing for a gradual step-reduction schedule of Economic Development Commission benefits.
21. Giving a 10 percent discount for full payment at least six months in advance of property taxes and also allowing for a quarterly payment schedule.
22. Supporting all actions necessary to expedite implementation of "the Caribbean Energy Resource Corp. project that proposes an immediate infusion of approximately $290 million into the St. Croix economy and the creation of an estimated 1,200 jobs."
23. Increasing the stamp tax (government transfer tax) to 2.5 percent of the selling price from the current 2 percent for real estate sales above $500,000.
24. Increasing the stamp tax (government transfer tax) to 3 percent of the selling price from the current 2 percent for commercial transactions and non-residential investment properties.
25. Reducing the permitting process time by 50 percent for development projects worth more than $1 million.

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