A good point was brought up on FREE SPEECH yesterday that makes your proposal even more unconstitutional than the initial concept of it. We are already being taxed on containers being brought into the territory for the Anti-Litter Beautification Program and have been since 1988 (I think that is the date the caller mentioned.) This new tax now makes for a double-taxation on arriving goods. In reality though, it is really a triple-taxation, since we also pay excise taxes on all goods brought in, PLUS the Gross Receipts taxes, which will be further increased for businesses when they have to increase prices to cover these new taxes. You are driving businesses right out of business with this new proposal, not to mention putting us senior citizens on fixed or limited income in an even more difficult financial position. Where are we supposed to get the money from to pay for these new fees, along with the proposed new electric/water increases being proposed to PSC according to the press release I received yesterday?????????
I already can't afford to buy many of the food items I used to get, so what else am I going to have to eliminate?????? Maybe we are all going to have to dig a hole to live in and not leave that hole, since we won't have any money to buy anything any more. Or maybe all of us seniors will have to leave our homes here and move to Panama where the cost of living is so much less and "pensionados" get all kinds of discounts of 15-50% on goods and services. I guess this new tax is how you are planning to pay yourselves your huge salaries and provide all of your friends with the new jobs required to collect these fees under your "self-supporting" Authority mandate.
TAX, TAX, TAX…..is that all this government can do? It sure appears that way. Look at how many new taxes the Legislature has already placed on goods and nothing has been accomplished with it. Our road tax on new vehicles and gasoline goes into the deep-hole General Fund instead of into the Highway Fund where it was supposed be used. We pay new taxes on tires and other goods already that you are now adding to with the EUF (we all know that those are NOT going to get removed when you institute your new formula, so there is another double (triple) taxation. Where does it all end???? Our own form of Boston Tea Party?
I agree that sewer rates should be vastly increased. $50 a year????? Who ever dreamed up that small amount and why hasn't it been increased long before this???? Most stateside sewage operations are charged on a per gallon basis tied to water consumption. Of course that is a problem here since some people with city water aren't tied to sewers because none are available in their area and others are on cisterns yet tied into the sewers. When I left Ohio 12 years ago, I was paying over $3 per gallon per month on my water bill for sewer and I had a $3+ per month solid waste collection fee on my water bill. Maybe we could do a flat fee per month on electric bills for solid waste collection and include a monthly recycling collection as part of the pick-up as we did back in Defiance?????? We had once a week regular garbage pick-up with once a month pick-up for bundled newspapers and magazines and government supplied recycling tubs for the cans and one for the glass/plastic. The company that was hired for the collection service installed a trash separation system that then separated the recycled material further and sold off the items to recycling companies. We really need to be providing seed money for locals to invest in developing businesses that can take recycled materials and convert them into products that we can use.
In many parts of the island (including my neighborhood) we already have twice-weekly curb pick-up service that we are paying for through our taxes until the government fails to pay the contractors for the collection. The bin sites on St. Croix are only there to service those who don't live in areas with curb service. That can be taken care of with smaller collection trucks that can travel into areas big trucks can't enter. Defiance actually had small scooter collectors that would then dump into larger trucks along the routes. The recycle collections were done with special three bin trucks that kept the recycles separated. There are many solutions that we are failing to address in our waste management system. Is it partly due to the apparent local attitude that we don't need outside assistance???? There is NO reason that we are 20 (or 50) years behind the rest of the nation or the world in our waste management systems. Let's make use of the technologies that are out there and in use even by our neighboring islands.
I urge your staff and the board members to start watching Sundance Channel on Tuesday evenings for their environmental programs. They have been covering lots of US mainland and world companies that are doing just that type of small business recycling, including making wallpaper out of recycled paper, light fixtures out of recycled aluminum, furniture out of scrap wood collected from construction sites and other users of wood products, etc. We should also buy mass quantities of home compost bins and distribute them the same way WAPA is distributing the light bulbs. People could then use the compost to develop enriched soil to raise some of their own food in their own gardens. Food scraps going into the compost bins would greatly reduce some of our landfill trash. Of course there is still that proposal for the trash-to-energy plan that was shot down a few years ago. And the Renaissance Center land that could still be the site of many recycling ventures. Let's take your $49 million budget and use it wisely for encouraging the THREE R's rather than developing a plan that further inflates our government payroll with more unneeded job positions that you are proposing for the collection of these stupid EUF's.
BTW, I worked for 3 years with the Defiance City Engineering Department in planning road, water, and sewer projects, as well as working with various civil engineering and architectural firms while living in Ohio. I do know a little something about what we have been doing wrong and ways of correcting the problems and base my comments on that work experience.
James A. Hoffman, LMT
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