June 18, 2004 — The board of the newly formed Waste Management Authority elected officers Thursday at its inaugural meeting. Winston Adams was chosen as chair, Gloria Canegata Waterman as vice chair, and Keith Richards as secretary. All will serve one-year terms.
All five of the seven mandated members of the board now in place were present for the meeting:
— Two of the governor's private-sector nominees who have been confirmed by the Legislature — Adams and Deandre Atwell.
– The three government representatives — Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood; Richards, assistant to the governor for capital projects; and Waterman, assistant to the governor on St. Croix.
The five decided to elect officers among themselves instead of waiting for the Legislature to act on the governor's other two private-sector nominees — Reginald George and Alan Smith. Four members constitute a quorum.
The authority will control all aspects of waste management, a responsibility previously held by the Public Works Department.
"Our major responsibility right now is to bring the system into compliance," Sonia Nelthropp, Public Works federal programs manager, told the board in her status briefing on the waste system in place.
About 125 Public Works employees will be transferred to the WMA. The Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission will become a division of the authority, and its board will be dissolved. An executive director and other staff for the authority remain to be hired.
The authority by law must become economically self-sufficient within 18 months. Plans call for implementing an environmental user fee as its major source of revenue. The fee, to be placed on such products as bottles and cans, is to be determined through the Public Services Commission and the private sector.
"That has to be done and in place within the next six months in order for us to survive," Nelthropp said of the fee.
According to Nelthropp, the authority needs an operating budget of about $40 million. However, its current appropriation is for $20 million.
Once operational, the authority's first priority will be to bring the territory into compliance with six consent orders the V.I. government has entered into with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These include closing the Anguilla landfill on St. Croix and making mandated changes at the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas.
The board moved into executive session to discuss implementation of the environmental user fee and matters relating to personnel.
By law the Public Works commissioner must be one of the three government appointees who serve on the board. While board members' terms eventually will be for three years overlapping, initially Atwell will serve for three years and Adams for two. The governor has proposed Smith for two years and George for one year.
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