May 25, 2005 – The V.I. Waste Management Authority board of directors meeting Wednesday was the first for May Adams Cornwall, executive director.
"I've had a fast and furious two weeks," she said of her new job; getting to know the staff, looking at contracts, touring the proposed new office location and reviewing policies and procedures.
Cornwall said her preliminary assessment revealed the need for office space, staff cars, and stepped up communications. She would also like to address the 2006 fiscal year budget deficit, and establish a public information protocol for hurricane season.
Cornwall also wanted the approval to hire staff.
George Phillips, board member and acting commissioner of Public Works Department, said he has been receiving too many complaints on the garbage collection in St. Thomas.
Keith Richards, board secretary, said the Waste Management Authority has full reign over wastewater, but "some management is still on the Public Works side," he said. "There seems to be a need for full transition to Waste Management so we won't have that issue."
Phillips said the daily waste management belongs to the Waste Management Authority, but there is some confusion over responsibility. "In order to end that confusion, I will no longer have Public Works do garbage collection," he said. "We will only do those things that we have financial responsibility for."
"I do not believe we are ready for an abrupt and unplanned separation," said Cornwall.
Phillips said he would work with Cornwall, but when Cornwall asked about interim plans, Phillips said, "I cannot have a confused workforce. They can't take direction from two different people."
"I have already asked my people to stop day-to-day operations," Phillips said. "You now have to step in."
When Winston Adams, board chairman, said he should have taken the matter to the board, Phillips said, "Garbage collection doesn't wait," and said he had to take action to avoid a strike.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, the board carried a motion to accept Cornwall's recommendation to buy eight new operations vehicles for the authority. "Our fleet is extremely old and unsafe. They need to be retired," said Cornwall. "We must have a way to get our people around."
Gloria Canegata-Waterman, board vice chairman, and Phillips did not vote on the matter.
The board also discussed the Landfill Technologies Corp. contract to manage St. Croix's Anguilla Landfill. The contract was first delivered to the company in February, but they have been lax in returning phone calls or answering letters from the Waste Management Authority.
"Why has a company been awarded an $11 million contract and been non-responsive?" asked Iver Stridiron, general counsel. "We need to move quickly."
Richards maintained the delays have been caused by the red tape the government has put the company through. He said the contract has been fine-tuned for three years. "When we put it out to bid we're not going to get this price," said Richards.
He moved to send a letter to the Landfill Technologies Corp. giving the company 10 days to return a signed contract. The board voted in favor of the motion.
Phillips left the meeting early, breaking the quorum.
Board members present for the meeting were Adams, chairman, Canegata-Waterman, vice chairman, Richards, secretary, and Phillips, board member and acting commissioner of the Department of Public Works. Cornwall, executive director, and Iver Stridiron, general counsel also attended.
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