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VIPA Owed $7.4M In Rents, Operational Charges

May 23, 2009 — The Virgin Islands Port Authority is owed $7.4 million, 95 percent of which is due from rents and operational charges.
Accounts unpaid for more than 31 days total upwards of $2.8 million.
While VIPA is trying to cut costs across the board, including their version of a "stay-cation" retreat at their headquarters rather than at a resort, the other side of the balancing the books equation is coming from redoubled efforts to collect monies owed.
"As soon as something hits 31 days, we are calling, visiting, writing and beginning legal actions more quickly," Denise Mills, director of property management said. "Come next month, we'll have an updated collection policy."
An Aged AR report dated April 10, developed by Mills' department, identified 48 accounts which represent 95 percent of amount owed more than 31 days overdue.
Outstanding accounts for three cruise lines, Carnival Cruises, Holland American and Princess Cruises total $726,622.29, but these are tied up in a legal matter between the cruise lines, the Authority and Deliver It, Inc. Deliver It, acting as ships agent, is alleged to have collected the fees and not turned them over to the Authority. (See "VIPA Waiting On Millions In Fees From Ships Agent.")
The top four overdue accounts for each of the department's reports are provided below.
On St. Thomas, the top four largest amounts outstanding were:
– Department of Planning and Natural Resources owed $253,072.23, $238,022.21 has been owed for more than 180 days;
– Executive Airlines/ American Eagle was 31 days overdue for $143,704.53, with $109,312.82 owed for more than 180 days;
– Four Star Air Cargo, $102,188.70 with $52,124.80 owed for more than 180 days. The air cargo company has had a contract to carry mail between the Virgin Islands and the postal processing facility on Puerto Rico, but FAA inspections and a recent fire in which more than half a ton of mail was damaged caused the United States Postal Service to seek another carrier in April. (See "FAA Again Halts Four Star Mail Flights To V.I.")
– The V.I. Taxi Association, $84,853.06 for more than 180 days.
The same report for St. Thomas-St. John listed, in addition to the cruise lines:
– V.I. Water and Power Authority owed $176,820.29 for more than 31 days, with $143,827.14 for more than 180 days;
– Wesk Marine owed $121,496.00 for more than 180 days;
– V.I. Dept. of Property and Procurement, $60,669.46 with $23,169.46 overdue for more than 180 days;
– Seadream Yacht Club, $38,941.02, with $29,026.37 overdue for more than 180 days.
On St. Croix:
– Executive Airline/American Eagle was more than 31 days overdue on $175,656.26 with $164,001.30 owed for more than 180 days;
– Stanford Acquisitions $67,121.88 overdue 31 days, and $67,121.88 overdue 31 to 90 days.
– American Airlines was more than 180 days overdue for $54,461.53.
– Four Star Air Cargo $29,277.54 overdue for 31 days, and $13,277.54 overdue 180 days.
While the authority can resort to eviction for delinquent lessees, it tries to resolve the outstanding accounts and in some cases requires considerable diplomacy.
"Our communications explain a need for them to be here and also a need for them to be current in their accounts," Executive Director Kenn Hobson said. "They know that they owe us and that we need to collect."
Acknowledging that there are sometimes discrepancies between the authority's accounting and the organization's, Hobson said the discrepancy is separated from the uncontested amount.
Some organizations like the V.I. Taxi Association with outstanding accounts will need to get them sorted out in short order if they want to renew their contracts with VIPA.
The authority policy is not to contract with organizations with delinquent accounts.
"We would not sign a contract with them if they are still delinquent," Hobson said.
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