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WMA Looks at User-Fee Issues in Wake of Public Hearings

Nov. 16, 2007 — The Waste Management Authority's executive director briefed the WMA board on public response to its proposed schedule of environmental-user fees Friday, suggesting the authority look at ways to incorporate recycling incentives into the plan and lessen the fees' impact on working families.
May Adams Cornwall acknowledged that public comment and media coverage have been negative, but the director believes the public will come around as people look closer at why the fees are being put in place.
"I think we are getting the positive side out now," she said. "We are certainly showing that we are willing to listen and make modifications before our final report."
Board Chairman Winston Adams described a shift in perspective: "The public, in their mind, they are paying for waste management for the first time. But they were paying before, just through the General Fund."
Cornwall briefly summed up the history of the fees for the sake of media in the room.
"The Legislature said we need to become self-sufficient as quickly as possible, to get off the General Fund as quickly as possible," she said. "To do that, we developed a model to become self-sufficient in four years."
Funding has to come from fees or government appropriations from the General Fund or other tax-revenue streams to run the wastewater treatment plant, recycle aluminum, dispose of trash and perform all the functions of the WMA, Cornwall said. And the Legislature mandated the authority set up fees, she said.
The media should help communicate this, said Vice Chairman J. Brion Morrisette.
"Hopefully the message will be that it is our legislative mandate to become self-sufficient," he said. "We are required by law to implement the EUF, and without fees we cannot do our job."
A few concerns came up again and again during the town meetings on the fees she has held on the three main islands in the territory, Cornwall said.
"We must look again at how to reduce the economic hardship to people on lower incomes, and how to incorporate recycling incentives and disincentives," she said. "I would qualify that we have recycling programs, and the fees would support expanding them. But it could help to build incentives and disincentives in. That would address most of the questions I have been hearing. The business impact has come up, but I see that as a pass-through item. The pass-through to the consumer is a concern, and that is where we will take a closer look."
In other business, WMA Chief Financial Officer Deandre Atwell gave a budget overview, saying the authority had requested $49.1 million and the Legislature had approved $35.9 million.
Cornwall announced that Steve Aubin is acting chief operations officer and second in command at WMA.
The board approved a number of large contracts for sewer-line replacement and other construction projects. They include:
— $529,300 to Lew Henley’s Sewage Disposal for cleaning and "cured in place" lining of about 1,300 feet of sewer line in de Jongh Gut in Savan and 300 feet of eight-inch sewer line below the old V.I. Hotel on St. Thomas;
— $320,950 to Pipeliners USVI for cleaning and lining about 1,200 feet of sewer line in Moravian Gut on St. Thomas;
— $691,000 to Zenon Construction for the Pete’s Rest Convenience Center on St. Croix;
— $88,700 to Mickey's Construction for expansion of the Sion Farm/Peter’s Rest sewer-collection system;
— $50,000 to Lew Henley's Sewage Disposal for cleaning sewer lines on an as-needed basis for the next year;
— $153,662 to A9 Trucking Enterprises for additional responsibilities at the Anguilla Landfill dealing with operating and preparing to close the dump. The new tasks include a topographic survey, methane-case testing and working on a gas collection and control system for the landfill;
— $125,000 or less to Nancy J. Ryan of NJR Consulting Group to provide more services helping to set up the environmental-user fees and the wastewater-user fee;
— $71,456 to Apple Construction to complete work on WMA offices in Williams Delight;
— $8,932 a month in rent for offices on St. Thomas; and
— $302,000 or less to purchase four trailers: three for environmental-user fee revenue-collection offices and one to house showers and lockers to meet federal job-site requirements at one of the wastewater plants.
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Nov. 16, 2007 -- The Waste Management Authority's executive director briefed the WMA board on public response to its proposed schedule of environmental-user fees Friday, suggesting the authority look at ways to incorporate recycling incentives into the plan and lessen the fees' impact on working families.
May Adams Cornwall acknowledged that public comment and media coverage have been negative, but the director believes the public will come around as people look closer at why the fees are being put in place.
"I think we are getting the positive side out now," she said. "We are certainly showing that we are willing to listen and make modifications before our final report."
Board Chairman Winston Adams described a shift in perspective: "The public, in their mind, they are paying for waste management for the first time. But they were paying before, just through the General Fund."
Cornwall briefly summed up the history of the fees for the sake of media in the room.
"The Legislature said we need to become self-sufficient as quickly as possible, to get off the General Fund as quickly as possible," she said. "To do that, we developed a model to become self-sufficient in four years."
Funding has to come from fees or government appropriations from the General Fund or other tax-revenue streams to run the wastewater treatment plant, recycle aluminum, dispose of trash and perform all the functions of the WMA, Cornwall said. And the Legislature mandated the authority set up fees, she said.
The media should help communicate this, said Vice Chairman J. Brion Morrisette.
"Hopefully the message will be that it is our legislative mandate to become self-sufficient," he said. "We are required by law to implement the EUF, and without fees we cannot do our job."
A few concerns came up again and again during the town meetings on the fees she has held on the three main islands in the territory, Cornwall said.
"We must look again at how to reduce the economic hardship to people on lower incomes, and how to incorporate recycling incentives and disincentives," she said. "I would qualify that we have recycling programs, and the fees would support expanding them. But it could help to build incentives and disincentives in. That would address most of the questions I have been hearing. The business impact has come up, but I see that as a pass-through item. The pass-through to the consumer is a concern, and that is where we will take a closer look."
In other business, WMA Chief Financial Officer Deandre Atwell gave a budget overview, saying the authority had requested $49.1 million and the Legislature had approved $35.9 million.
Cornwall announced that Steve Aubin is acting chief operations officer and second in command at WMA.
The board approved a number of large contracts for sewer-line replacement and other construction projects. They include:
-- $529,300 to Lew Henley’s Sewage Disposal for cleaning and "cured in place" lining of about 1,300 feet of sewer line in de Jongh Gut in Savan and 300 feet of eight-inch sewer line below the old V.I. Hotel on St. Thomas;
-- $320,950 to Pipeliners USVI for cleaning and lining about 1,200 feet of sewer line in Moravian Gut on St. Thomas;
-- $691,000 to Zenon Construction for the Pete’s Rest Convenience Center on St. Croix;
-- $88,700 to Mickey's Construction for expansion of the Sion Farm/Peter’s Rest sewer-collection system;
-- $50,000 to Lew Henley's Sewage Disposal for cleaning sewer lines on an as-needed basis for the next year;
-- $153,662 to A9 Trucking Enterprises for additional responsibilities at the Anguilla Landfill dealing with operating and preparing to close the dump. The new tasks include a topographic survey, methane-case testing and working on a gas collection and control system for the landfill;
-- $125,000 or less to Nancy J. Ryan of NJR Consulting Group to provide more services helping to set up the environmental-user fees and the wastewater-user fee;
-- $71,456 to Apple Construction to complete work on WMA offices in Williams Delight;
-- $8,932 a month in rent for offices on St. Thomas; and
-- $302,000 or less to purchase four trailers: three for environmental-user fee revenue-collection offices and one to house showers and lockers to meet federal job-site requirements at one of the wastewater plants.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.