March 17, 2005 While a new tire tax is soon to be imposed on the territory's motorists, proper tire disposal on St. Thomas remains at a standstill.
On Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Bureau announced that a tax on tires would go into effect April 1. Anyone purchasing tires in the territory will have to pay $1 per tire on tires 18 inches or less in diameter, and $2 per tire for tires more than18 inches. Tire retailers will collect the tax, which will then be turned over to IRB, a release from Government House said.
Meanwhile, tire dealers have been charging customers approximately $3 per tire for disposing of their old tires, since the Public Works Department placed a ban on dumping tires at the landfills in 2000. This has left some consumers, who do not want to pay the disposal fee, with no choice but to dispose of their tires in other ways.
Mountains of tires stored at the Bovoni landfill awaiting shredding and around individual homes and elsewhere became breeding grounds for mosquitoes with the heavy rainfall in recent months.. Cases of dengue fever popped up across the territory, one of which led to the death of an infant in October.
All of this while a solution to the tire problem a tire shredder is languishing at the Bovoni Landfill due to bureaucratic fumbling.
After four years of battling the system to acquire the necessary permits to operate the shredder, its owner Lester Ashby, who was on the verge of shipping the shredder back to the mainland, finally received some good news. The 26th Legislature in February approved legislation to rezone the Bovoni landfill from residential to public land to allow the operation of the shredder. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull signed the bill March 5.
The rezoning was the major roadblock to Ashby and his company, A-9 Trucking, reducing the old tires to bits. However, though the rezoning was approved, the tire-shredding still isn't happening.
Jimez Ashby, Lester Ashby's son and a certified landfill manager with A-9 Trucking, said Thursday they were still working on acquiring necessary permits.
"We have not as yet received a working lease with Property and Procurement," Jimez Ashby said.
He said they were also seeking to get a permanent permit from the Planning and Natural Resources Department to operate the tire-shredder. Currently, A-9 Trucking possesses a temporary permit to operate the shredder for six months. Ashby said this was not enough time to reduce the stockpiles of tires, and is concerned about what would happen after the six months if the tire-shredding process were stalled.
"It takes time," Ashby, who has been going through the process for almost four years to get the necessary permits, said.
Ashby said he did not know how the recently announced tire tax would impact his business. He said he plans to charge for shredding the tires.
A-9 Trucking would only be responsible for reducing the tires to small pieces.
"Bottom line is all waste belongs to the government of the Virgin Islands," Ashby said. "I'm just doing a service."
The tire tax is only one of three taxes to be imposed on the territory's consumers and visitors. A container tax and a tax on rental cars will also take effect on April 1.
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