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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, August 7, 2022
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Say No to Environmental User Fees

Dear Source:
No matter what they say to explain the reason for the Environmental User Fee program and the LAW that allows for it, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority Board and it's Executive Director are still wrong in even considering the EUF program (other than raising the fee for connection and use of the sewer system.) Does anyone realize that all of our taxes here violate our constitutional rights? None of these taxes or fees are being put before US, the voters, for our approval or disapproval. If any state or municipality in the mainland tried to do such a maneuver it would be shot down immediately. The container tax that is already paid by shippers or import companies for the benefit of the Anti-Litter Beautification Commission is a duplication of the EUF. The fee collection staff is just more bloating on the government payroll and the GERS system. And since 99% of the fees that will be collected will originally be paid by the businesses bringing in the merchandise for sale to the general public, these fees will be added to the cost of goods that you and I will be buying. This means that their Gross Receipt Taxes (another way to vastly increase that source of income for the General Fund and all of the over-commitments of the GRT for paying off bonds—-something else we don't get to vote on) will also increase for the businesses, even thought it is "pass-through" as Ms. Cornwall so aptly puts it. Now you add another 4%+ to the cost of these EUF's as that will also be added to the cost of the goods being sold by the merchants. Also, keep in mind that one such "tax" has already been overturned in the courts. We don't need to implement additional ones that we the citizens will then have to take to court.
$302,000 for trailers for fee revenue-collection offices????? Plus the salaries for the new staff???? And the unlisted cost for furnishing those offices and paying the utilities on them???? It will be a never-ending additional cost for us and they will never be "self-sufficient."
Does anyone see the picture here??????? We the taxpayers always end up paying for anything the government does and the more we demand from them in services, the more it is going to cost us, directly or indirectly. WE MUST STOP THIS BLOATING AND BLEEDING PROCESS. The budget keeps increasing by millions of dollars each year and the services get worse and worse. Dedicated funds (such as the Highway Fund) are constantly robbed to support the General Fund. Vital agencies' budgets are cut while our Legislature's budget has gone up by nearly 20% in the past 4 years. (Remember how little time has passed between the $16 million budget and the now $19+ million budget???) The overall government budget has DOUBLED in the same time period. What have we gotten for this?????? Absolutely NOTHING. And THEY don't pay their bills on time, or in some cases, not at all, yet still expect the very businesses they owe money to pay their taxes on time. Another Catch 22 of government.
There have been many proposals offered by the taxpayers. Is WMA even really listening and considering these proposals????? Supply every household with a compost container and bins for separating their metal waste, plastic waste, paper waste and require the trash collection companies to purchase the right type of vehicles to collect the separated trash. Then work with Renaissance Center and entrepreneurs to develop facilities that can recycle these waste products into products that can then be sold back to the local public. Require that businesses no longer use the current plastic bags for bagging their products sold. Instead we could be manufacturing fabric bags and selling or distributing them for people to use when shopping. These bags can even be made of recycled material—-PET plastic recycled into woven fabric, used clothing and other fabric recycled into bags, etc. I have been carrying my canvas totes for nearly 10 years (actually one of them for over 15 years) and I don't go shopping without them. I can carry twice as items in one bag as you can put into 2 double lined plastic bags at the grocery store. They can be printed with a business' logo which then provides advertising promotion for that business.
Other plastic could be recycled into building products—the new plastic "wood" that is now being used for decorative outdoor furniture and decks, fences, etc. Aluminum can be recycled right here and made into lots of different household items like lamps, wall-hangings, etc. just as steel drums are made into musical instruments.
By the way, for anyone who doesn't think these recycling proposals work, just watch Sundance Channel in the evenings or visit www.sundancechannel.com/thegreen. Or do a search for recycling on the internet. That search will take you to hundreds of sites that offer information on programs that exist throughout the world. It is time the USVI gets into the 21st century.
James A. Hoffman, LMT
St. Croix

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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Dear Source:
No matter what they say to explain the reason for the Environmental User Fee program and the LAW that allows for it, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority Board and it's Executive Director are still wrong in even considering the EUF program (other than raising the fee for connection and use of the sewer system.) Does anyone realize that all of our taxes here violate our constitutional rights? None of these taxes or fees are being put before US, the voters, for our approval or disapproval. If any state or municipality in the mainland tried to do such a maneuver it would be shot down immediately. The container tax that is already paid by shippers or import companies for the benefit of the Anti-Litter Beautification Commission is a duplication of the EUF. The fee collection staff is just more bloating on the government payroll and the GERS system. And since 99% of the fees that will be collected will originally be paid by the businesses bringing in the merchandise for sale to the general public, these fees will be added to the cost of goods that you and I will be buying. This means that their Gross Receipt Taxes (another way to vastly increase that source of income for the General Fund and all of the over-commitments of the GRT for paying off bonds----something else we don't get to vote on) will also increase for the businesses, even thought it is "pass-through" as Ms. Cornwall so aptly puts it. Now you add another 4%+ to the cost of these EUF's as that will also be added to the cost of the goods being sold by the merchants. Also, keep in mind that one such "tax" has already been overturned in the courts. We don't need to implement additional ones that we the citizens will then have to take to court.
$302,000 for trailers for fee revenue-collection offices????? Plus the salaries for the new staff???? And the unlisted cost for furnishing those offices and paying the utilities on them???? It will be a never-ending additional cost for us and they will never be "self-sufficient."
Does anyone see the picture here??????? We the taxpayers always end up paying for anything the government does and the more we demand from them in services, the more it is going to cost us, directly or indirectly. WE MUST STOP THIS BLOATING AND BLEEDING PROCESS. The budget keeps increasing by millions of dollars each year and the services get worse and worse. Dedicated funds (such as the Highway Fund) are constantly robbed to support the General Fund. Vital agencies' budgets are cut while our Legislature's budget has gone up by nearly 20% in the past 4 years. (Remember how little time has passed between the $16 million budget and the now $19+ million budget???) The overall government budget has DOUBLED in the same time period. What have we gotten for this?????? Absolutely NOTHING. And THEY don't pay their bills on time, or in some cases, not at all, yet still expect the very businesses they owe money to pay their taxes on time. Another Catch 22 of government.
There have been many proposals offered by the taxpayers. Is WMA even really listening and considering these proposals????? Supply every household with a compost container and bins for separating their metal waste, plastic waste, paper waste and require the trash collection companies to purchase the right type of vehicles to collect the separated trash. Then work with Renaissance Center and entrepreneurs to develop facilities that can recycle these waste products into products that can then be sold back to the local public. Require that businesses no longer use the current plastic bags for bagging their products sold. Instead we could be manufacturing fabric bags and selling or distributing them for people to use when shopping. These bags can even be made of recycled material----PET plastic recycled into woven fabric, used clothing and other fabric recycled into bags, etc. I have been carrying my canvas totes for nearly 10 years (actually one of them for over 15 years) and I don't go shopping without them. I can carry twice as items in one bag as you can put into 2 double lined plastic bags at the grocery store. They can be printed with a business' logo which then provides advertising promotion for that business.
Other plastic could be recycled into building products---the new plastic "wood" that is now being used for decorative outdoor furniture and decks, fences, etc. Aluminum can be recycled right here and made into lots of different household items like lamps, wall-hangings, etc. just as steel drums are made into musical instruments.
By the way, for anyone who doesn't think these recycling proposals work, just watch Sundance Channel in the evenings or visit www.sundancechannel.com/thegreen. Or do a search for recycling on the internet. That search will take you to hundreds of sites that offer information on programs that exist throughout the world. It is time the USVI gets into the 21st century.
James A. Hoffman, LMT
St. Croix

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.